Meet The Makers, Russell and Sue

Meet The Makers, Russell and Sue

July 01, 2021

Second in my Meet The Makers Series is Russell and Sue. The Artisan craft is so important to me. I cannot put into words the admiration and love I have for the Artisan makers I work with. So I decided to introduce them to you through a Meet The Makers Series, to give you insight into the importance of ensuring that these skills are celebrated and retained.

Russell and Sue, makers of my 100% Pure NZ sheepskin.

Two South Island businesses joined to build a strong sheepskin and possum business.

It all started back in 1983 when possum hunters Pam and her husband Dave started selling a few possum products out of an old Dodge bus in Arrowtown. Their business grew and they soon shifted to Maruia Springs and set up a factory, supplying around one hundred retail outlets around NZ.

The current owners Russell and Sue started selling sheepskin products at Riccarton Market and The Arts Centre Market on weekends and with this going from strength to strength they bought a small sheepskin manufacturing business in 1999. When Pam and Dave decided to sell their business, Russell and Sue decided it was a perfect fit for the possum and sheepskin to merge into one, with both businesses using similar skills and machinery.


Since then, it has grown to be the leading manufacturer in all things possum and sheepskin and have survived through adversity, including the Christchurch earthquake and COVID-19. With most of their customers catering for the tourist industry over the past year the business has embarked on a new pathway to ensure the security of their business and staff. These guys have had to really be flexible over the past year with COVID. In 2020 the business moved into larger premises with their team of 7 locals. They are the perfect bunch of people, and they manufacture with care and love.


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Auckland-based artist Helen Bankers has always been attracted to the natural world. Her work has taken her around the world for a myriad of publications and brands, but when she’s not on assignment Helen loves exploring the creative side of photography.

“Throughout my career I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of leading a balanced life,” says Helen. “I realised that I have an overwhelming desire to produce a more artistic and illustrative side of work.”

Outside of her magazine and commercial projects, Helen can be found in her home studio creating work that celebrates the natural world. She has a sharp eye for detail and particularly likes working with flora and fauna.

“I’m inspired by the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Australian florists such as Saskia Havekes at Grandiflora. I enjoy looking at the fine form and intricacy of flowers and plants,” says Helen, who lives with her engineer husband Dan and daughter Isla, in the eastern suburbs. 

“From that passion grew a series with a focus on botanical studies.”

The abstract images, which often combine close-up detail, colour and texture, form the basis of Helen’s Limited Edition Fine Art Prints collection. 

As well as having a passion for photographing nature, Helen has a talent for interiors and portrait photography. “I have a love for people and interiors,” she says. “I love telling the story of someone’s life journey through their homes and how their homes reflect the lifestyle they lead,” she says.

*From my experience shooting interiors, I’ve been inspired to create a range of botanical images that people can enjoy in and around the home.”

Helen’s Limited Edition Fine Art Prints are available on this site.

For art work leasing, please contact

Available for private commissions – please enquire

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