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NAGNATA x International Women's Day.
A message from Nagnata Directors.
For #IWD 2023 we gathered with 10 close friends of the brand in Byron Bay to share some words on their journey to feeling personally empowered. To empower and inspire, to lift each other up and guide each other forward, to share the wisdom and discover the lessons from our experiences.
To change the world as women we need to change the stories we tell about ourselves.
Thank you to the women who contributed to this project and to all of the women whose faces and names we may not know but whose support has been fundamental to us continuing our work through Nagnata. One of the messages of International Women’s Day is to remember that as long as one woman faces discrimination, harassment, inequality or oppression, we all do.
A percentage of our sales today will be donated to The SHIFT Project Byron Bay, supporting local women through the challenges from homelessness to independence, from welfare to wellbeing. @theshiftprojectbyronbay
Love Laura May & Hannah x
- NAGNATA FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR
We live in a society with constant subliminal messages towards women about idealistic beauty standards, motherhood, fertility - the clock is ticking, strive in your career but don’t expect to reach the top or if you do to receive equal pay. Express yourself, but don’t be difficult. Use your voice, but expect to be shamed, not renowned, if it goes against the cultural narrative.
I have spent much of my life both consciously and unconsciously challenging these unwritten codes as much as I’ve been on the receiving end of their pressures. So I learned to cultivate the power of the feminine’ that lives within all of us. Kali, the Shakti energy that is wild, empowered, and all loving, both the creator and the destructor. I trusted my instincts, drowned out the noise, reflected on cultural values that resonated with me, and committed to paving my own path - Nagnata.
In ancient times women held spiritual authority and were the spinners and weavers of our world. Women are the voice of the earth, Pachamama = World+Mother, we are the activists of the future.
In our modern times this is our intuition and compassion, our ability to care for the people within our companies and communities and to drive philanthropic work. To ‘handle it all’ weaving together our roles as the nurturer; the mother, the partner, the caring friend, all whilst pursuing our aspirations and continuing to take that seat at the table.
I believe the oppression and fight for women's empowerment our sisters, mothers, grandmothers and ancestors have endured over time has cultivated a resilience and courage in women that makes us great leaders.
For #IWD I would like to remind everyone of the feminine power within all of us and to encourage equal representation of women in positions of leadership which seek to transform the discourse on gender equality, empower women and bring about systemic change. Because as long as one woman faces discrimination, harassment, inequality or oppression, we all do.
- NAGNATA DIRECTOR
I am a Mother, Artist, Photographer and one half of Nagnata.
I learnt about the true depths of my power with the premature birth of my son at 27 weeks. Three long months in hospital with him fighting for his life, running Nagnata from his incubator-side. Not taking a moment to stop and digest life. From my previous life in the music industry, I unconsciously developed a strong masculine energy. My default coping mechanism was to then exist in this energy; head-strong, pushing through adversity as my ‘saving grace’. But in fact it was my downfall. This has been my greatest lesson in learning to understand and harness my true power as a woman, while finding my voice as a woman in business.
Women are powerful. Our ability to be vulnerable, empathetic and resilient make us great leaders.
“Every day, women move mountains. It is an insult to have an international women's day” - Waris Dirie.
Being a Mother I naturally find myself wanting to learn more about child crimes around the world. We often take for granted how privileged we are with our freedom, rights and opportunities and good health care from birth. In Africa, girls as young as 5 are being subjected to the inhumane procedure of female genital mutilation (circumcision). Then married off as young as 12 years old. According to WHO, 8,000 girls become victims of this incredible brutality every day. Gender equality and human rights deserve to begin from birth no matter what your social demographic. Girls deserve the opportunity for an education, to make choices for themselves and their bodies and not be subjected to cruel rituals against their will.
- TERRA TONICS FOUNDER + CEO
There were many experiences growing up where I encountered racist attacks not just verbally but also physically. It left me feeling unseen because at the time I felt the colour of my skin was the only lens through which people viewed me.
After falling into the fashion industry in my twenties I experienced a similar feeling, to now be seen only for the way I looked.
It wasn’t until my thirties I realised the fundamental importance of how I feel about myself.
The world will always have its own views, but we have the powerful choice of choosing our own narrative.
When we change our story we change the story for so many women.
By embracing our stories and lived experiences both good and hard, what may have felt like a vulnerability can become our strength, allowing us to create a space for conversation and connection.
Through sharing our stories, and our vulnerability, we evolve and this is how change happens.
When creating Terra Tonics I did so from a place of wanting woman to truly feel their best, feel seen, confident and part of an inclusive community.
Instead of letting the hard experiences define me into my thirties, I changed the narrative for myself and these experiences have given me the passion and drive to create change in the beauty space and help others do the same.
“The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.” - C. JoyBell C.
- THE RETURNING INDIGENOUS CHARITY CEO
"I strongly believe that women are the backbone of a healthy society and that in order for us to create a more sustainable culture in this modern context we must start to centre women, mothers and families"
I believe in this so much that I started an Indigenous charity that is based on this principle of bringing community care and health and wellness spaces to Indigenous communities and single mothers for no cost. The Returning Indigenous Corporation supports Indigenous women with postpartum care in our region, we create arts and culture retreats to support women and Indigenous peoples with economic weight and we offer a range of health and wellness programs for mob and for mothers that are created by connecting back to country and returning to the world through a cultural lense. We have an all female board, mostly Indigenous and an all female team, mostly indigenous and half are mothers.
In my culture, we run on a Matriarchal line. The women have always been the wisdom keepers, the caretakers, the decision makers.
The education system should teach our young women about holistic and spiritual understanding of our menstruation cycle, sex and birth. We as women should be paid to mother our children. Mothering and birthing is the one thing we have done since time immemorial and it's been overlooked in the economic system. It's not seen as worthy of being paid for, to raise well and connected children is most certainly worth investing in as a country. We need bleed days on day 1, where we get paid to bleed in bed at home, helping and assisting us for the cycle to come, to have better health and more energy.
Women have been domesticated in this western society and told to look pretty, be quiet and play nice. That never felt right to me, I knew the power of women because I was raised by a strong Indigenous mother, who fought not only for her children as a single parent but she fought for her community and what she believed in.
Language is a powerful tool for change and the words we speak to each other as women or speak about each other as women makes an impact on our culture and beliefs and those beliefs that we pass on to the next generation. I believe a great female leader leaves no one behind, takes all the women, men, children and others with them into the future. The great female leader has love for all, while also knowing who to uplift and give decision making roles too. I'm ready for a return to women centred societies, whose with me"
- AUTHOR & MODEL
This IWD, I want to harness my participation with Nagnata to highlight how diversity in fashion has become increasingly important in recent years and how that has had a flow-on effect when it comes to female empowerment in general.
As someone who can remember when Joey and Dawson first pashed, I’m in a select generation of women who could argue that they survived the most sustained and multi-pronged body shaming attack any cohort of women has ever faced. You look around the media landscape in 2023 and you’d be forgiven for thinking the ‘flab to fab’ mag headlines, size-00 worshipping runways and newly minted nasty pro-ano blogs were ions ago. But they weren’t. And many of my female contemporaries (and their deeply ingrained body hang-ups) would quickly remind you.
Nowadays, it’s a joy to see how far fashion has come. It’s bliss to watch the industry catering to women of all sizes, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. This change not only promotes inclusivity and equality but also positively impacts women’s empowerment.
More women are able to see themselves represented in the media and on the runway, FINALLY! This not only boosts their confidence but also helps to challenge societal norms and stereotypes.
I don’t care what anyone says, fashion does help to create a sense of community among people—any religion, any army, any institution proves clothes are a powerful tool to symbolise belonging. By showcasing a variety of styles and designs, women can express themselves in unique and individual ways while still feeling a sense of belonging to a larger group. It’s inclusive and incredible, and this free expression has the potential to impact the lives of women around the world positively.
In the future, it is up to fashion designers and industry leaders to continue pushing for meaningful—keyword is MEANINGFUL!!!—diversity and inclusivity in all aspects of the industry.
- MOTHER, MODEL & CREATIVE
I am Anna Feller - I am a Mother, Model and a creative.
I am lucky enough to call Laura May my long time friend and collaborator…We have been through a lot together, throughout our careers, relationships and most importantly stand together as sisters, creating change through empowering women to stand on their own feet. Gently watering the creative path and igniting things within ourselves by standing together - I don’t think would be possible without a woman’s gentle strength.
Being a single mother I have learned along the way I have to wear many hats on this journey.
Being the career woman, the mother, the provider, the lover and the friend to all my amazing women who surround me.
I am blessed to be a woman. All good things come from women!
Hung up women can’t produce anything but mediocre art, and their ain’t no room for mediocre art - Patti Smith
- LOCO LOVE CEO
Instead of the words woman and man, I am going to use the more energetic terms feminine and masculine.
As humans we embody a dual nature of both energies. Both of these energies are necessary for balance and when they sway too much in one direction our lives and our world become imbalanced. I believe our current paradigm is too much in the masculine energy, which is fast, dissective and ultimately controlling. Hence to balance this there is a rise of the feminine, which is intuitive, receiving and slower paced.
In ancient times there was Sophia, the divine feminine goddess, who is rarely spoken of today. There were hideous and traffic crimes against women, thousands and thousands killed, this trauma lives within us all. It's a deep topic, to me the most important aspect is to remember these feminine parts of ourselves, our interconnectedness, our intuition and our receiving without striving. In this process though we can not forget that it is not one way or the other, it is both, for us to evolve we need to heal our feminine and masculine, to become whole.
To speak on this personally, I am a mother to two boys and CEO of Loco Love, all day I go from masculine making quick decisions, leading people and then to nurturing my children. I find it difficult and unfair at times, though it is empowering.
The business world is currently primarily male dominated, though there is a rise of more women as leaders; as we truly need it. We need the balance. People are tired of being overworked, tired of being controlled and not trusted.
Women can bring a leadership style that is more nurturing and compassionate, though also knowing their worth and not being pushed around by men. Women and men need equal choices to be whatever they want to be. We all need the freedom to express ourselves in whichever way we want to regardless of gender.
We have come so far in gender inequality, though until all people feel heard and happy we need to keep healing these inequitable issues.
- TRAVEL WRITER & AUTHOR
For most of my adult life, I’ve railed against the idea that women aren’t capable of exploring the world in the same way men are. Part of the reason I wanted to become a travel writer was to prove, after reading so many travel books written mostly by older white men, that women could just as fearlessly travel the world.
When I’d be on travel assignments on my own, I’d often have people asking me whether my husband would be ok left on his own, whether I should be gone for such long periods of time, or whether I should be doing such ‘dangerous’ activities like hiking up volcanoes in Papua New Guinea, or snowshoeing in sub-zero temperatures in Japan, or travelling solo in India. I know if I was a man I’d never have been asked these questions.
But sometimes the most important thing we can do as women is hush those voices of dissent, so we can hear our own intuitive voices that guide us perfectly well, and courageously pursue the life we want.
We only have one chance to do that. It seems, to me at least, a truly great tragedy that we might otherwise end up following a script someone else or society has written for us, rather than our own.
- HUSTL FOUNDER
For as long as I can remember, being a woman has felt rather uncomfortable for me; the forever changing shape of my body, the deep empathy, the pressure to unconditionally love whom I am in a society that has shaped almost the entirety of my being.
To celebrate today I feel I must first take a little moment to acknowledge what I have become, a young, powerful & courageous young woman.
I am fearless & I am scared.
I am strong & I am soft.
I am confident & I am curious.
I am everything, all at once, together as one.
Today is for you, for me and for us, Today is for the woman that challenge all change, that overcome all hurdles and continue to lead with love.
- STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR
I have worked as a freelance fashion stylist for the past decade and am so grateful for the autonomy I've been able to have over my work.
I believe my confidence as an individual and woman really grew during this time: being a stylist is so much more than just putting a look together, for me its about trusting your own judgement and sometimes reading people.
Women are innately able to tap into their intuition and can create freely with true passion once this is encouraged and nurtured.
Having children and starting a family with my husband gave me another level of confidence and recently I invested my creative energy into something more tangible, starting my own clothing brand for motherhood.
Becoming a parent grounds you and the importance of community becomes so clear. I now try to keep community at the heart of everything, even my work.
Thank you to the women who contributed to this project.