The topic of Sustainability is trending in the fashion industry and in my opinion, it’s long overdue. Understanding how the entire industry can be more sustainable is complex and sharing positive stories from the businesses and brands in the industry is equally so.


It’s for this reason, I have decided to share my story – to hopefully shed some light on just how important the agricultural industry is to the top runway shows such as Milan, Paris, New York and London. 


A childhood surrounded by nature.


Growing up on a sheep and cattle property in outback Australia, 20 years ago, my childhood was rich in adventure and creative innovation. Conscious responsibility has always been important to my creative practice, understanding that my decisions, choices and actions ultimately impact something or someone. This understanding, knowledge and respect for the agricultural industries and the important role they play in our lives, specifically the fashion, food and lifestyle industries runs deep and true.


We lived 12 hours away from the nearest city and 70km from our closest town (50km of that was a dirt road). Our water was pumped by windmills and our hot water was heated by solar panels on the roof of our homestead. In the very early years, our milk was delivered fresh, by my Father, every morning, with a layer of cream on top. He had risen with the sun, rounded up our one dairy cow and hand milked her. Every few days we would join him to learn and observe the art of being gentle handed. 


“Shearing” was one of my favourite times of the year. We sheared in Winter and the mornings were freezing. I can still taste the steaming hot bowl of porridge for breakfast, laced with brown sugar and melting into a delicious syrup over the oats and milk. I can see the rising of the mist across our house lawn, vaguely making out the silhouettes of our pet sheep, poddy calves and pig all huddled together for warmth.

I can still hear the shearing shed’s engine, softly humming and chugging in the distance; the dogs barking, straining on their chains, eager to join the hive of activity taking place at the sheep yards. I can smell the crispness in the air, the marriage of dust and dam water in the sheep yards, the chemicals in the branding paint and drenching fluid.

I can feel the soft crimping of the wool fibres in my finger tips, the lanolin moisturising  the palms of my hands and the sharp, unexpected prick of burs, thorns and other twigs puncturing my skin while skirting the fleece for classing.

I still remember the 2km walk home, 8:30pm at night after loading the bales of wool onto the truck, as a family. Leaving Dad at the shed to finish tidying up and with the car, the night was pitch black but the blessing of a full moon lit our path home.

I can hear the sweet sound of my Mother’s voice, singing Cat Steven’s ‘Moonshadow’, as we trudged across the landscape, marvelling at its colour and expansiveness.

I still sense the energy, life and purpose an activity like shearing brings to a family’s heritage. 


My experience of the fashion industry began here; as a small child walking across a harsh landscape with prickles in her soft, lanolin hands, a tuft of wool stuffed in her pocket for comfort, her family close and Mother Nature guiding her home. 


A little later, I became a fashion designer, illustrator and storyteller.


These are the untold stories of the fashion industry. It’s where a brand’s sense of pride originates and where its value and quality begins. Sharing stories like these, on behalf of a brand, is what makes their legacy sustainable and respected, and it’s what makes me feel like I’m home.

If you are looking to share your brand’s untold story, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here.


Until next time, stay in your magic.


About Penelope

I’m a fashion illustrator, designer, storyteller and ambassador who helps brands in the fashion, lifestyle and travel industries, build brand recognition, credibility, loyalty, and trust whilst offering a fresh perspective.

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