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Yes to the Wool dress – Nikki Atkinson wins Rural Women’s Award

Abbie Tiller

Nikki Atkinson wins South Australian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award

Nikki Atkinson has been named the winner of the 2024 South Australian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, for promoting the Merino wool industry through her sustainable wedding dress and special occasions brand.

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, supported by platinum sponsor Westpac, is Australia’s leading Award in acknowledging and supporting the critical role women play in rural and regional businesses, industries and communities. It is an opportunity to celebrate the forward-thinking, courageous leaders who come from industries that represent some of the most vast and remote areas of South Australia.

Nikki received a $15,000 grant from Westpac to further support her project as well as the opportunity to undertake a professional development course of her choosing.She will also go on to represent South Australia at the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement in Canberra later in the year, where the National Winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 Westpac grant and the National Runner Up, an additional $15,000.

Nikki, who sold her bridal boutique in Adelaide to marry her wool grazier husband and move to the family property in the Flingers Rangers, combines her 25 years of experience as a wedding dress couturier and her advocacy for fine Merino wool through her business, Horrocks Vale Collections.

“Traditional wedding dresses are made of polyester, and I’m on a mission to champion fine Merino wool as an innovative, sustainable alternative because of its environmentally-friendly and natural properties, including its drape, feel and comfort,” she said.

“This award will help showcase the incredible work of world-class Australian wool graziers, taking their premium fibre from Australian farms to couture fashion. I want to see more people say yes to the wool dress!”

Clare Scriven MLC, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development said Nikki’s work in the sustainable fashion space is creative, innovative and inspiring.

“I congratulate Nikki Atkinson for being selected as South Australia’s winner of the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. The Government of South Australia is proud to support initiatives that recognise and celebrate the extraordinary contributions women make in our regional areas supporting local communities, businesses and industries,” she said.

AgriFutures Australia Managing Director John Harvey said women like Nikki have the vision to transform entire industry for generations to come.

“Nikki is a prime example of making impactful industry-wide change while living and working in rural and regional Australia, by understanding the work behind producing extra-fine Merino fibre and flock, and the value of sustainable, slow, Australian-made fashion,” Mr Harvey said.

“The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award provides forward-thinking female leaders working in rural, regional and remote communities like Nikki with the support and leadership skills to pursue projects that make a real difference for generations to come.”

A long-time supporter of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, platinum sponsor Westpac, also congratulated Nikki on being awarded the South Australian state winner title.

“On behalf of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award platinum sponsor, Westpac, I’d like to congratulate Nikki for being awarded the South Australian state winner title. These awards not only showcase the many different leadership experiences of these accomplished women, but they demonstrate to the greater business community ‘what’s possible’ in rural Australia,” said Les Ryan, Regional General Manager Regional & Agribusiness for South Australia for Westpac.

Congratulations to all of the South Australian State finalists, including Fleurieu Peninsula entrepreneur Susie Williams and inspiring Murray Mallee mental health Advocate and Author Suzi Evans.




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