The Dream Weavers
Armadillo & Co – Jodie Fried & Sally Pottharst
Jodie Fried and Sally Pottharst founded Armadillo & Co in 2009, with a vision for creating luxurious handwoven rugs with a social conscience.
Underpinning their elevated aesthetic is the team of Indian artisans that bring every piece to life. Having established ties with the country through their previous work, the duo “were enamoured by the craftsmanship and wanted to keep it alive”, says Fried of their decision to base production in India. Here, the brand’s products are made meticulously and lovingly by hand, using only natural and sustainable fibres and traditional methods.
Fiercely passionate about giving back to the communities that are so integral to their brand’s success, Pottharst and Fried have developed the Armadillo & Co Foundation. This philanthropic arm of the business provides health facilities in their weavers’ villages and sponsors local schools— financing all salaries, supplies, uniforms and expenses.
After helping to build 16 preschools in India’s poverty-stricken slums together with The Anganwadi Project, the pair recently introduced a scholarship program that provides girls with the opportunity and financial aid to continue their higher education. “Supporting girls’ education in India is something that we really believe in,” says Fried.
CONSCIOUS CREATION “We really care about the footprint we leave,” says Pottharst. “I have teenage children and I’m thinking about the world that we’re handing over to them.”
The Fearless Spirit
Jade Hameister was raised in an adventurous family, but no-one could have predicted the heights that the 16-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl would one day reach— literally. The young adventurer conquered Mount Kosciuszko at age six, and completed the trek to Mount Everest Base Camp when she was 12. At 16, Hameister set out on her most demanding journey yet, dubbed the Polar Quest, with aiming to complete the Polar Hat-Trick. The feat would entail skiing to the North Pole, the South Pole and across the second largest polar ice cap, in Greenland. She completed the expedition in January this year, becoming the youngest person in history to do so. “I almost think the mental side is tougher than the physical,” she says. “You’re always struggling physically, but it’s the fact that we worked so hard to get to that point...you tell yourself you don’t want to be anywhere else.”
The subject of a National Geographic documentary due for release this year, along with a book, Hameister is passionate about sharing her story with girls her own age - like in a recent TEDx Talk, where she focused on inspiring young women to think about their achievements rather than their appearance.
Hameisiter is also keen to raise awareness of the impact of climate change. “I’m not an expert on global warming,” she says. “I’m just a 16-year-old trying to learn as much as I can.”
DREAMS REALISED “These expeditions were definitely not about the records,” Hameister says. “For me, it was about the experience and seeing things that no-one else had. I’m proud I did that.”
The Brand Maker
With 35 years at the top of her game, the 54-year-old supermodel, mogul and mother-of-two is busier professionally than ever.
After reigning on runways, covers and campaigns, Macpherson turned to entrepreneurialism in 2000, partnering with Bendon to create Elle Macpherson Intimates. Stepping up to spearhead the line as chief marketing officer and later creative director, Macpherson drove Intimates to become the best-selling lingerie range in Australia and the UK. She later launched her own collection, Elle Macpherson Body, which sells around the globe.
WelleCo is Macpherson’s latest venture co-founded with long-time friend, business partner and fellow Aussie Andrea Horwood in 2014. The duo worked with leading nutritional therapist Dr Simone Laubscher to develop their famous Super Elixir health supplement - an instant bestseller, it filled a gap in the market within the booming ingestible beauty business, which focuses on looking good from the inside out. The brand has since launched protein powders, teas, skincare and lifestyle products.
“I’m not aligning myself with a business and going, ‘I think I can sell that,’ Macpherson says. This is a business I’ve created for myself.”
A NEW ERA “2018 has ushered in a fresh new chapter for women globally. It’s a very powerful and liberating time. As an entrepreneur, I’m hugely excited for the women around me.”
HER PROUDEST ROLE “Guiding my sons through the phases of their life is my number one priority—that is the job I find the most satisfying.”
The Progressive Voice
In her 2010 book What’s Mine Is Yours, co-authored with Roo Rogers, researcher-writer Rachel Botsman predicted the rise of a new era of collaborative consumption, dubbed the “sharing economy”. “I had this hunch that the way people were sharing photos, music and video, they were going to start to share other things in their lives,” the 40-year-old recalls. TIME magazine named her hunch one of the “10 ideas that will change the world” and most of us now engage these services on a regular basis.
Botsman’s new book, Who Can You Trust?, examines the shift in consumer trust from traditional institutions like governments and media to online communities.
Fast Company magazine named this noted speaker one of the “most creative people in business” - she has presented to Microsoft and Google, and given three TED Talks, but laments the fact that men routinely outnumber her. A visiting lecturer at University of Oxford Saïd Business School, she says the disparity starts in the classroom: “I don’t need to give most of the men permission to speak...but with the women I say, ‘What you have to say is equally if not more important...so why are you being so quiet in class?’ We have to address it in schools [and] universities, and we’ll see a change as women go into careers.”
ON WOMEN IN TECH “I’m kind of over the conversation that there aren’t enough women... because that’s just the symptom, it’s not the root cause of the problem. “How do you teach women to ask for money? [Or] that they need to sell themselves and believe that their idea is THE idea?”
The Community Champion
Violet Roumeliotis is CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI), a not-for-profit that assists refugees and migrants settling into Australia and finding employment opportunities. In her more than five years heading up SSI, Roumeliotis has focused on raising awareness of the economic value of the migrant segment. The Ignite Small Business Startups initiative, entirely self-funded by SSI, assists newly arrived refugees with their entrepreneurial goals. “Essentially we facilitate their capacity to start up their businesses,” she says. The 90 incubated businesses are still running today and employ other Australians as a result, and the Canadian government has shown interest in acquiring the license for the program—another way Roumeliotis helps raise essential funds. “Having your own resources and revenues, you realise you can actually make a difference,” she says. “If you apply business principles, you can get profit for purpose.”
The Staples Bag pop-up store is another SSI social enterprise spearheaded by Roumeliotis, distributing affordable and quality food to refugees, the homeless, people in aged care and students. With 13 Sydney locations, the initiative also provides job opportunities to the unemployed. “There’s great demand, so we need to be able to expand it...get more people into work,” the inspiring leader says.
A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION “People fleeing persecution come here with an extraordinary resilience and say, ‘I’m here, I’m very grateful to be here...and I’m going to live the best life that I can live,’” Roumeliotis says.
The Fashion Innovators
Simone & Nicky Zimmermann
Zimmermann is undeniably one of Australia’s most successful fashion labels. Started in 1991 by powerhouse sister duo Nicky and Simone Zimmermann as a stall at Sydney’s Paddington Markets, the pair’s smarts have seen the business scale up to 21 Australian stores, US boutiques spanning California to New York, a flagship in London and a longstanding relationship with luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter.
There is little doubt women the world over (including an A-list clientele that boasts Beyoncé and Margot Robbie) resonate with Zimmermann’s sophisticated spin on florals, ounce and striking construction. And though this enduring direction has become synonymous with the brand, it is far from manufactured. “It’s always been Nicky designing what she loves and who she is,” says Simone, who spends her days “getting things done—production, human resources, all of the things that help the designs [come] together.” This synergistic relationship is what both women recognise as the cornerstone to their success, in an industry that can be notoriously cutthroat.
The label’s unique ability to seamlessly merge high fashion with beach staples helped leapfrog Zimmermann into a slot on the New York Fashion Week schedule in 2013, where the globally loved brand has presented its ready-to-wear collections ever since.
EMPOWERING WOMEN “We hire a lot of people and a lot of them are women,” says Nicky. “Working beside them and watching them progress and grow in their careers is definitely something to be proud of.”
The Drivers of Change
Lucy & Rosie Thomas
“When we finished high school, we knew exactly what it was like to be bullied,” says Rosie Thomas, one half of the sister duo behind youth-driven movement Project Rockit. “What we were most frustrated and angry about was that no-one was doing anything in a way that would actually reach people.”
Their organisation, founded 12 years ago when the pair were “straight out of high school,” now holds hundreds of workshops in schools around the country, unpacking pertinent topics such as bullying, identity and friendships— but with one key distinction. “We wanted [these] issues to be put back in the hands of the people affected most—young people themselves,” Lucy says.
Project Rockit’s sessions are facilitated by a diverse group of passionate young presenters chosen for their relatability. “We try to create an experience that’s positive [and] unites,” she adds.
With their goal of reaching as many teens as possible, the pair have developed a digital curriculum, Project Rockit Online, so that users anywhere in Australia or overseas can access important cyber-safety and anti-bullying information—designed by and for young people. They have also partnered with Google on a YouTube web series, Project Rockit TV.
SOCIAL CHANGE Project Rockit sit on safety advisory boards for Facebook and Twitter, where they share insights directly from their workshops. “As a youth organisation, we want to look at ways in which we can [not only] affect change from the ground up [but] start influencing change from the top down too,” says Rosie.
The Bright Star
In the hugely competitive world that is the entertainment industry, where chart toppers come and go in a blink, Delta Goodrem is one of the few Australian entertainers who has consistently remained at the forefront. With a glittering career spanning well over 20 years, Goodrem has 16 ARIA Awards under her belt, has sold over eight million records worldwide, and taken the lead in the two-part biopic Olivia: Hopelessly Devoted to You, in the title role.
“It has been a unique and phenomenal relationship [in] music with Australia,” says the 33-year-old. “I’ve stayed very true to my own course—I didn’t look left or right, I didn’t fall to trends; I’ve just had a strong core that has kept me going.”
It’s this determination and steely resolve that has helped Goodrem overcome adversity, including a courageous battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 18.
The artist draws on her own life lessons as mentor to the future stars of Australian music on the hit television show The Voice. She has held the role for six seasons, and says instilling essential values, such as the necessity of hard work, in the up-and-coming talent on the show is something she holds dear to her heart. “I also think it’s important to share with the younger generation that it’s cool to be kind,” she says. “It’s really important to remember compassion and empathy for other people before you decide to be judgemental in any way.”
SAGE ADVICE “Don’t ever waste time on anything that doesn’t serve you right. You’ve got to go out and grab what you want.”
The Creative Visionary
For Mikaela Jade, a Cabrogal women from Sydney, the journey of unearthing her own Aboriginal lineage at age 29 helped shape her groundbreaking work as founder and CEO of technology company Indigital, which aims to connect people with the past through new technology. A first-of-its-kind app, Indigital Storytelling is a key innovation: users simply download it, hold their mobile device up to a pre-programmed object, artwork or place, and the traditional owner associated with the site comes to life in a 3D animation, sharing ancient knowledge or Dreamings. “The idea was to make sure that when we’re standing in a cultural place, we have an authentic experience of Aboriginal history.”
A member of the Microsoft Australia Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Board, she’s set to partner with indigenous social enterprise Shared Path on a program funded by Microsoft Philanthropies called Digital Custodians, which will train 30 indigenous women from across Australia in digital skills, enabling them to develop technology solutions that work for their communities. “I’m really passionate about making sure that our people have opportunities in this space not just to consume tech but create it,” she says.
FUTURE FOUNDERS “I feel so lucky to have this platform to be able to talk about indigenous women in technology,” Jade says. “To inspire our girls and women to be able to say, ‘Yes, I want to be in technology. I want to have a global tech company.” Is it any wonder her 12-year-old daughter already has a roadmap for her own digital start-up?
The Irrepressible Force
For Susan Alberti, affectionately known to her fellow Melburnians as The Footy Lady, watching her beloved Western Bulldogs win the AFL Premiership in 2016 was the greatest reward for a lifetime of support. Seeing her team beat the odds complements Alberti’s own story of resilience, and her ability to charge forward in the face of life’s challenges.
In 1995, dealing with the grief of losing her first husband in a road accident, Alberti summoned the resolve to take over the building business the couple co-owned. It wasn’t the last time she found herself kicking goals in a male-dominated field: Alberti became a patron of the Western Bulldogs and was appointed to the board in 2004, going on to serve as the club’s vice president.
The 2017 Melburnian of the year has has also brought her determination to the medical field, where she has made enormous contributions to type 1 diabetes research. Her late daughter Danielle was diagnosed at the age of 12, and tragically passed away at just 32. Alberti has worked tirelessly in her daughter’s honour since, and was instrumental in funding the development of islet cell transplantation procedures in Australia - with 20 patients now insulin-independent as a result.
NOT JUST FOR BOYS Alberti has been a driving force behind the AFL’s move into women’s football, with constant campaigning and contributing of her own funds. With Australia now invested, Alberti is confident for the future. “There’s half a million young women playing around the country,” she says. “I couldn’t be prouder to know that women are being given a league of their own.”