South Australian innovator Nikki Atkinson clinches 2024 Rural Women’s Award for sustainable fashion initiative

South Australian innovator Nikki Atkinson wins the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her sustainable fashion initiative, crafting wedding dresses from Merino wool. Discover how her unique blend of creativity and eco-consciousness is shaking up the fashion world and promoting Australian wool.

Photo: Susie Williams, Nikki Atkinson and Suzanne Evans

Nikki Atkinson, who resides in Wilmington in the Flinders Ranges, has been named the South Australian winner of the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. This distinguished title recognises her ground-breaking initiative of manufacturing sustainable wedding dresses and special occasion garments from Merino wool.

Atkinson’s business, Horrocks Vale Collections, merges her extensive experience of 25 years as a wedding dress designer with her ambition to promote Australian Merino wool. She envisages this home-grown wool as a novel and environmentally sustainable substitute to polyester.

Drawing from her intimate knowledge of the rigorous process involved in the development of extra-fine Merino fibre and flock, Atkinson’s aspiration is to shed light on Australian wool graziers, pastoralists and families. Emphasising the recognition they deserve for their committed endeavours in producing a world-class, premium product.

For her award-winning innovation, Atkinson has received a $15,000 Westpac grant as a boost for her business. The grant complements a host of professional development opportunities and entry into an esteemed network, the Rural Women’s Award alumni.

Atkinson’s journey does not end here. She is set to represent South Australia at the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement in Canberra later in the year. The national award carries a prize of an additional $20,000 Westpac grant. Moreover, the national runner up will also be awarded a grant worth $15,000.

Further South Australian finalists deserve commendation for their crucial contributions to our rural communities, businesses and industries. These include Suzi Evans from Mantung, who has shown resilience in her building project Workbench for the Mind, and Susie Williams from Willunga with her online local news platform, Fleurieu App.

AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award provides a platform to endorse and applaud the inclusive and courageous leadership of women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses and communities.

Looking forward to 2025, individuals inspired to apply for this award can anticipate updates about the open application sessions later in the year.

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