The Hakataramea Valley’s influence is spreading.
Jewellery and clothing inspired by its sights and sounds has been recognised in the Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards.
Hakataramea resident Bex Hayman won the “Creative Arts” section of the awards with the Whistle & Pop label she established two years ago.
It features products influenced by the “remote and beautiful landscape” she lives in with her sheep and cattle farmer husband, Tom, and their children, aged 2 and 1.
A signature piece is a sterling silver shepherd’s whistle that works just like the ones used to control sheepdogs.
“I was thinking of practical accessories,” Mrs Hayman said.
Farming expressions such as “Wallago”, “Rattle ya dags”, “Shut the front gate” and “That’ll do” are printed on clothing.
A new addition is the “branding collection” of small silver ingots stamped with images of wheat, a sheepdog, stag or pony.
“It’s a way of expressing yourself through jewellery – a humane way of branding yourself.”
Mrs Hayman said she did all the work from home.
“I still control it.”
She grew up at Lake Tekapo, where her family was involved in tourism, then headed to the United States to be a nanny and work on a dude ranch.
She pursued her childhood dream of becoming a famous singer, eventually opening for the Hollies and singing for Robert Kennedy jun.
Along the way she lived in Auckland, London and South Africa.
After returning to Tekapo in 2013 and renewing her school-days friendship with Mr Hayman, they married in 2016.
Mrs Hayman said she enjoyed the company of other women in the district, who dubbed themselves “the Waitaki wags”. Then she and fellow newcomer Sarah Connell established the social media site Young Rural Ladies, to motivate and inspire women living on the land.
Having started Whistle & Pop before her children were born, Mrs Hayman now works around their needs. She has help to look after them on Thursdays so she can tend to the business.
One of the questions to be answered when entering the Rural Women awards was whether the business’ rural location was a difficulty. Mrs Hayman said it was an advantage.
“The mail woman comes right to my door.
“I don’t have to drive to work, so I’m not using fuel, which is better for the environment.”
The only problem was running out of ink for her printer, she said.