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


So you have some rescued alpacas - what's next?

Angela Betheras

Alpacas are absolutely wonderful animals, they are kind, gentle, make you smile just to look at them and they generally enjoy being part of your family and there is not much to fault.  Heck that is why so many people want a couple in their paddock.  I am told it is to keep the grass down but as a total devotee of these beautiful animals, I know better.

However sometimes people have alpacas and their circumstances change and they can no longer look after them, hey that happens to fully fledged breeders as well so it is nothing to be ashamed about.  So in all good intentions they set about finding new homes and this is where you come in, you are the new found home but wait, you don't know anything about alpacas, what do they eat? what do they need? how often do you shear them? do they need injections and if so which ones and when?  These are all questions breeders are really hoping you are asking and seeking answers for because if you are not, then your rescued alpacas aren't going to be living a very happy life at all and that is not good for any one.

So ideally before you bring home your alpacas and if not then, then very soon after, you need to set about arming yourself with as much information as you can.  You obviously start with the person who is passing the alpacas onto you but in many cases they could be trying to find them a new home as they no longer care for the alpaca so always best to seek a second opinion.

I am often asked why alpacas? and part of the answer is that I met the alpaca people and decided they were my kind of tribe, they were friendly people, loved their animals, knew lots and I felt at home so my suggestion would be to start with one of us. If by some slim chance you don't get answers then ask another one of us but I am pretty sure that won't be necessary.

Yes alpacas are pretty easy to care for but they do need shearing every year late Spring, early Summer so you do need to find an alpaca shearer, they do need medications mostly via injections so you have to be comfortable with that or are willing to pay a vet or know a farmer who can help. Those blasted toe nails need to be cut at least once during the year and that will take 2 people with good backs and you will need to do regular health checks and be prepared to pay the occasional vet bill and in return they will love you but most probably from a distance.  You are not bringing home a new dog or cat, these are farm animals who live in a paddock, not your lounge room but they do need some form of shelter and protection from the wind so they will need a shed or shelter in the paddock.

One final point if you are gifted or are looking to buy alpacas, stud boys are not a bonus.  Alpacas don't come in "breeding pairs". Stud boys need to be kept separate from your girls but they can't be on their own so they need a weather for company.  One of your girls might have a boy which has to leave the girls before 12 months of age but if you have a stud boy he might not like that boy so you could have difficulties.  If you are gifted an entire male and you know your family trees then by all means go ahead and do matings but then seriously consider either selling him on or having him weathered.  Your lives will be so much easier.

I can promise you a wonderful life with your new found friends and you will find it hard to imagine what your life would be without them but remember whilst we all say they are easy to look after, that doesn't mean you can just leave them and not look after them at all.  Even the best of us have needs!

So find a tribe of supporters, ensure your property is alpaca ready, have all your information at hand and then all that is left to do is to enjoy your new family.


Summer is here so we can't wear alpaca, right?

Angela BetherasComment

Wrong! Yes here in Australia we are finally entering the t-shirt wearing time.  Most would say down here in Victoria it has taken its time in coming but that doesn't mean your alpaca needs to be bagged up and packed away.

why? Alpaca is not technically a wool, it is a hair.  It is a hollow fibre which allows it to breath with your body so it is one of those rare fibres where we can say that it keeps you lovely and warm in Winter and cool in Summer.  If that wasn't the case you would see alpacas panting in the paddock like you do sheep in the heat.  The lightness of the alpaca means they can handle the heat and indeed many of them love to sunbake.  You will often see them stretched out in the paddock exposing their tummies to the sun to soak up all the rays.  Oh what a life.  Don't we all wish we could do just that and then at dinner time some human comes along and feeds you your dinner, just the way you like it.

To make alpaca even more versatile we mix it with cotton as well in our own range and of course we only use Australian cotton which is known in the cotton industry to be the best in the world so we would have nothing less to go with our beautiful alpacas.

So don't completely tuck your alpaca away to the bottom draw during Summer.  Granted you probably won't want to wear it when the temp hits the mid 30's but if you have a choice between alpaca and a manmade fibre such as polyester, then please, for the sake of your skin and body, put on the alpaca.

Here is a picture of Judy and Saori enjoying the beautiful sunny day

cria baby alpacas.jpg