Nickelby At Darnum

Nickelby Designs hits the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018

shop newsAngela BetherasComment

Last June I happened to stumble across a website about a new style of fashion show which happened for the first time in Fremantle, Western Australia in November 2017. It sparked my interest as it was an Eco Fashion event. I had stumbled across a fashion show which celebrated designers who cared about their environment and created their designs with total respect for our world and the impact we all have with how we live.

Fashion is one of the top four world polluters and I have spent my entire corporate career working for fashion companies, running their international supply chains so I was impacting the world in such a huge way.

My label; Nickelby Designs is an eco friendly label. After all, the alpacas live on the farm, I send their fleece after shearing less than 100km to be processed into yarn, I dye and weave the fabric I then sew into garments, all in my studio on the farm. If ever I was going to hit the runway it made total sense that I do so at an Eco Fashion event.

I decided I would enquire with the hope that perhaps I could participate in 2019 as I was sure I wasn’t ready for November 2018. So I filled in the enquiry form and within about twenty minutes I received a phone call from a very passionate woman named Zuhal. Zuhal is the founder of the event, a veterinary, fashion designer and also a breeder of alpacas! She was very excited that she had found another designer who made garments from alpaca and wanted to know all about my processes. We got along like a house of fire and I was so excited that I met all the very stringent requirements to be a part of Eco Fashion Week Australia. You see to be part of it you not only have to design in your country of origin, all manufacturing has to also occur in your country of origin. So 100% Australian in all criteria is the requirement or if you are international then 100% (n) country. Many apply but designed in Australia, made in China just doesn’t cut it.

So off I set to raise the funds to pay the fees, organise the airfares and the accommodation and get ready for not only a week in Fremantle in November but also a week in Port Douglas, (perfect spot to hold an eco event when we consider the plight of the reef). Oh and also design and make 12-16 outfits for the runway.

So from July - October, I sat at my SAORI loom nearly every day weaving cloth ready to then sit at the sewing machine to create the garments. I managed to finish 12 and then various tops, scarves and hats for the designer studio which was also part of the event.

The time came to leave and to set the farm and shop up so my mum could manage it for the weeks away and off I” flew to Port Douglas.

I was so excited to be finally doing something I had dreamt of doing since I had decided that I wanted to be in the fashion industry over 35 years ago and I was so proud that I was embarking on this journey adopting sustainable practices. Nickelby Designs was finally reaching out to the world. My byline that I use when I am dreaming was one step closer. “Nickelby Designs; made in Gippsland, sold to the world”

As I write this my final show was on two nights ago at Freemantle, the reception from the crowd was fantastic, the bloggers have loved my work, magazines have made lovely online comments, there are photos galore and I was so proud of what I had managed to achieve. From the start of my career where I worked in the marketing department of Country Road organising fashion shows, here I was 30 odd years later participating in my own. What a circle! What a buzz!

There are a couple more shows to go and tonight I will be in the audience supporting more wonderful designers.

I am sure I will do much reflecting over the next couple of months of this incredible ride, I will work out how to showcase the wonderful photographs that have been taken, I will post some of the pieces in the online shop, but I think the best thing that I will take from this entire experience is the wonderful people I have met. Not only have all the designers been so supportive of each other and making sure we give the loudest applause for each other at the end of each show, but the organisers; Zuhal, Carl, Regina etc., the wonderful young models, their mums, the volunteers, the make up artists, the hair stylists, the media and the list goes on.

I have been involved as I have said in the fashion industry for most of my working life and the family feeling that is here at this event is unique. I have felt as though we have all been wrapped up in a warm blanket as we all look to 2019 to keep designing, keep dreaming but most importantly we keep working on doing out bit to save our planet.

Now to start designing for 2019

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Living in Yurts and Pods - well hopefully one day

Angela BetherasComment

As I have shared on previous posts, I purchased my farm practically empty, certainly empty of a house and 11 years on that is still the case however there is some movement at the station.

Outside of working with textiles and alpacas my next great love is house design and interior decoration and design and I have done a few house renovations and redesigns over the years and can't wait to do this next one. When I first moved here I had approved by council a rather large boomerang type house which was going to be fantastic. I mean I was designing conservatories and walls for large paintings, boot rooms, bedrooms for the dogs; this house had the works and then some.  Then reality set in and when I found out that the concrete slab was going to cost more than 80k.  I had to think it all out again and let that permit slide.

I could have just made it smaller but that would have just been annoying as I would have always felt it just wasn't right so I decided I would just have to get the pen and paper out again and start over. So one day when I was up a ladder checking a tank I was looking at the view from up there (it was lovely) and thought how well the round tank fitted into the environment so I thought - what about a round house!

Down from the tank and onto the computer and I found a company in NSW who sold kit yurts. Perfect! I would live in 3 round rooms with annexes for office, library, WIR's and ensuites and I would join them together with a couple of "pods". Very technically I measured the yurts using dinner plates and bread and butter plates and measured up the pods and sent them off to the yurts company draftsman in QLD and set about getting them costed.

So a few months later back in 2016,about this time of year, on the back of a B Double truck the kits arrived for my builder to put together the 3 yurts (he would have to build the pods).

I had done the figures, sorted out the finances to get the next stage done and once the 3 yurts were up I set off to meet the bank. That is where it all started to come undone. They all said no they would not give me money to finish my house despite what my spreadsheet said.

So two years down the track, the yurts are there framed and with a roof on each, they have been wrapped but with every breath of wind the paper blows off so I am always up the ladder trying to rewrap. I can't reach the top as they are quite high off the ground and there is only one of me so it is a pretty painful task and often quite scary but we do what we have to do.

The building permits have now expired so will be up for many more $$$$ but I am hopeful that sooner rather than later I can get the doors and windows in them and put on the Colourbond cladding for the walls and make them all water tight and then set about building the pods and getting it all to the ever important "lock up" stage but with no bank coming to help it has to all be done from income from the shop.

I did set up a "go fund me" page but I don't think I ever had any intention of pushing the button as I wouldn't feel comfortable with that so I just make sure I have a ticket in the lottery each week and hope one day I will have a house again after 11 years of not having one. But on the plus side I say to people well it is a good thing I like planning house interiors as I have so much time to research and do pretend shopping for this house it is satisfying all my design needs and I have changed the cladding material at least 4 times! Below is a picture of when they were first put up and wrapped by the builder and his team and you will see I will have a beautiful view and the gaps are being joined by the "pods" which will be a kitchen/dining on one side and laundry and bathroom on the other. 

Ahh one day! So if anyone knows of a way to find a few hundred thousand please let me know!

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Look out Autumn here we come!

shop newsAngela Betheras

Well the diary says that Autumn is here, it is now March 8th, in fact it is International Women's Day so that gives us two reasons to celebrate.

Autumn is my favourite time of the year.  The dreaded Summer is on the way out, the mornings are cool, the trees are turning, the grass is hopefully growing and whilst it might look like things are shutting down for the start of Winter for me and my work it means that life is starting to ramp up. The spinning wheel is back in action, the SAORI loom is going at full throttle, cria (baby alpacas) are being born and the images of big open fires, gatherings of friends around the table with a favourite glass of red, snuggled up in my alpaca jumper, sitting under my alpaca throw rug and watching a romantic movie as the nights draw in are just a stone's throw away and I love it!

Autumn is the time when you still want to get out and about, sure the beach might not be the best place to go but as we don't have a beach near us we enjoy walks through the bush, visiting wineries and being able to get out and about and not break into a sweat.

Autumn is the time when the shop here gets busy as well. Not too many people want to try on a jumper when it is over 30 degrees (although the shop is always cool it is a bit off putting) so we see more people coming in and falling in love with all things alpaca and I start to think I wish I worked harder over Summer to ensure I have enough stock.

I am working more and more in the slow clothing space where we encourage everyone to reuse, recycle or if purchase then to purchase with thought.  Instead of hitting the shopping centres, you don't need to now you don't need the air con they provide, why not start to think carefully about your purchases, purchase items with low production mileage, buy natural fibres as plastic damage our waterways, purchase an investment piece and by that I don't mean something expensive but rather something that will last the test of time, that helps you create your memories, memories of what you were wearing when.....Clothing is such an extension of ourselves, give it time to become part of who you are and take time to find out where your clothing comes from and how it has been produced. Above all, consider shopping with the little gal or guy and support a local community.  After all, you buy from me, I buy from my local shops and they do likewise and it means you are doing your bit to help keep a country community alive so we remain here for you to enjoy when you come to visit next Autumn.

We look forward to welcoming you to Nickelby At Darnum very soon and now back to the loom so there are some Nickelby Designs for you to see when you visit