Lana and I
I grew up on a farm in the small Wheatbelt community of Wyalkatchem surrounded by animals and the clean air of rural Australia. Both of my parents, my two older brothers and I were all active, playing all of the sports available to us after school and on weekends. Most of our after school chores involved feeding or cleaning up after our various pets. I am forever grateful to my parents and my family for being brought up in Wyalkatchem, around so many different animals. This is definitely where my passion for animals comes from and I think a healthy respect and love for their importance in our lives.
It didn’t take leaving the country for boarding school to know I loved the quiet open space of country living, but it took leaving to know I didn’t want to live anywhere else. I got through high school and pushed onto University not really knowing what I really wanted to do in the way of a career. I dived into a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology because of my passion for animals hoping it would lead somewhere. I am still so jealous of those people who just knew what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. Like my fiancé Mitchell. From the stories I’ve heard from all of his family I think he wanted to be a farmer from the day he was born, seeding the backyard each season with his toy tractors and garden rakes. I enjoyed the practical side of my degree trudging through the genetics units and probably not getting into the full uni life only visiting the tavern once, but I still left proud of my achievement and still with not much of an idea of what I wanted to do.
I moved back and forth from the country as opportunities arose. I bought a run down house at an auction and a dog and really loved being back in that sort of environment and close to my family in Wyalkatchem. I am sure anyone who has ever lived in a small country town will back me up when I say there is a sense of community and belonging in these towns that some city people will just never get to experience. And I mean small towns, please don’t listen to metro news channels that described a town 100km from Sydney with a population of 10,000 as small. The Wheatbelt in Western Australia is scattered with towns with populations of less than 500 people, some old town sites with a single household remaining and although it is bad to see towns dwindle away the hardships of living in these areas brings everyone together.
I have always been passionate about the farming lifestyle and love bragging to my city friends about the clean air, vast, quiet space and the amazing night skies. I had been living with Mitchell for about six months and just loved how passionate he was about his work on the farm and pushing the boundaries of what he could achieve and I really wanted to make something of having the opportunity to be here with him. That’s when I thought I could utilise my creative side and design and sell athleisure wear.
He’ll claim that it was his idea that they should be made from Australian Merino Wool, I still claim I can’t recall the conversation….
This was the perfect way to tie my passions of sport and exercise, and farming and couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time as I was going crazy not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life!
Farmers, their families, their businesses and their communities have been doing it tough for a while now, not only with unfavourable weather conditions, but also with the live export debate and vegan protests.
As if droughts weren’t causing enough pain and distress, but now people (some with limited, if any experience of farm practices,) were harassing farmers, stealing livestock and breaching biodiversity security.
I am not saying farmers are more educated than anyone else, but what I will say is that most farmers have grown up on and worked on their farm for decades, many of them are third, fourth, fifth generation farmers and know their processes, their livestock and the land they work on everyday like the back of their hand so if you are going to accuse them of something make sure you know some facts.
I remember Mitchell coming home one afternoon furious at the live export reports and I hinted that I didn’t like the conditions reported to be on the Ocean Drover as reported by 60 Minutes on Channel Nine. My animal welfare and conservation background kicked into gear and then Mitchell explained something to me which I had never considered. These farmers – all of the ones I know anyway – spend their Sundays checking troughs to make sure their sheep have plenty of water, they pull dead lambs from ewes that couldn’t push themselves anymore they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them at their healthiest, and feed them four times a week when the rain has failed them and Summer drags on. These farmers don’t want to see their livestock severely distressed after they’ve put so much time, effort and money into them. Mitchell was just as disgusted as I was by the footage of those sheep.
Not long after the issue first arose there was an episode of ‘The Feed’ on SBS regarding Vegan protesters stealing livestock and ‘liberating’ them from the ‘Gippy Goat Café.’ The ‘leader’ (excuse all of the quotation marks, but I really don’t know how else to emphasise the ridiculousness within this report) of these protests was consensually interviewed over the incidents and animal rights while cuddling a large goat in the living room of her house. Now call me stupid, but how liberated must that goat feel? They would steal a goat that is well fed and cared for, that was roaming in a large grassed yard with other goats to stay confined within her own four walls? This just seemed so ironic to me.
I do not consider myself highly educated in the area and if I’m honest I ignore most of the news stories on things like this because I find it quite frustrating that there are legitimate issues protestors could be leveraging, but are too caught up in the act of protesting to actually educate themselves. If they were wise not only would they be suggesting actual outcomes rather than stealing animals, but they might work with relative groups to improve any aspects that can be improved. This of course is not all protestors, and I love seeing people stand up for their rights and what they believe in when they are educated in the area.
Really what is most frustrating is that farmers genuinely are some of the kindest, most caring and generous people you will meet and they are being portrayed as the opposite. Not too many careers depend on something as unreliable as the weather for success and income yet they always have time for their communities, friends and families.
Maybe I’ll lose customers because of this but I wanted Lana Vello to support, inspire and educate people on farming practices and lifestyles, and allow people to meet real farmers. To bring people who otherwise might never get to experience regional Australia to actual farms and regional communities.
I realise not everyone has the opportunity to meet farmers and that is why as part of my business I am going to introduce Australian farmers to the world through this brand.
I didn’t know if it was realistically possible to make woollen garments suitable for activewear. I hadn’t heard of it before and surely one of the big brands would have been pumping it out if it was a thing.
So that’s when I started researching. It’s new. Very new, but some brands were starting to do a few garments from wool.
Activewear is quickly becoming a fashion statement in both fitness and social settings. Leading to the term ‘athleisurewear.’
Okay, so maybe this is possible, but it would be limited to Winter garments because wool keeps you warm.
Correction. Traditionally wool is used to keep you warm, but did you know Australian Merino Wool is an active fibre and can adapt to your body temperature. This means not only does it keep you warm when it is cold, but it will keep you cool when it is hot. Seems obvious when you think about sheep surviving in the vast conditions of Australia.
It is also a fabric which is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable ticking the big boxes of the environmentalists out there, including myself.
There are so many more features of Australian Merino Wool that can be found on my website by clicking HERE and by mixing Australian Merino Wool with Tencel, the benefits are enhanced while maintaining a natural, sustainable and eco-friendly garment.
Lana Vello is about versatility and sustainability. The athleisurewear is designed to be worn by every woman who hates changing outfits three times a day and doesn’t have the time to go home between that fitness class and picking the kids up from school. The designs are inspired by the beautiful landscapes, people, places, flora and fauna of regional Australia. They have been created to mix and match and be suitable for every possible activity throughout your day.
I’ve been around sheep and sheep farmers my whole life and hadn’t realised quite how amazing wool really is.
With this knowledge grew a new passion for this project. There have been many bumps in the road, but I finally have a product that I am super proud of.
I hope I have the magical moment one day of seeing someone wearing Lana Vello at a shopping centre or running laps and I hope they don’t mind if I chase them for a photo like a crazed fan.
If I’ve sparked an interest in you and you’d like to learn more about the processes involved from getting wool off a sheep’s back and onto yours check out
www.lanavello.com.au and follow my socials
Where you can also meet WA farmers and keep up to date with what’s happening with Lana Vello.
Products will be available for pre-sale in April and if you are at any local field days and expos keep an eye out for me and come say hello!
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