Say yes to the wool dress with Horrocks Vale Collections

Say yes to the wool dress with Horrocks Vale Collections

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South Australia has announced its winner of the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award.

Nikki Atkinson has taken the top honour for promoting the merino wool industry through her sustainable wedding dress and special occasions brand, Horrocks Vale Collections.

"This is just incredible because I've actually seen what it has done to the likes of other rural women and how it's escalated their businesses and their passion, so I'm really excited to be able to elevate my brand and my two passions and also bring awareness to the brand. I think this is absolutely priceless.

"The interviews that I've done so far, people are like, 'Wool wedding dresses? Really?'. It's just been really exciting."

Photography by Frankie the Creative

Nikki has won a $15,000 grant from Westpac, which she will use to see more couples say yes to a wool dress, both here in Australia and in the UK.

"I am employing a PR company and I want them to put me in front of the right audiences and on the right platforms, because we're talking weddings. It's lovely that I get followers and people that want to follow my journey, but I'm selling wedding dresses, so I need to be in front of the right audience. And I think that is really hard because it's such a niche.

"I'm hoping that they can also introduce me to influencers because influencers are massive thing in fashion now. And again, with the right influencers so I can create and grow this brand.

"The other part of the grant - and this is really taking me out of my comfort zone - I will use to go off to Harrogate in England and fly the woolly flag for Horrocks Vale Collections and Australian merino wool at an expo in early August.

"I'm hoping to get wholesale clients internationally, so that you can see our textile collections in the bright lights of New York City, Paris and Dubai."

Photography by Nadinne Grace Photography

Nikki sold her bridal boutique in Adelaide to marry her wool grazier husband and moved to the family property in the Flinders Ranges. She is on a mission to champion fine merino wool as an innovative and sustainable alternative.

"I've always known that wool is an amazing fibre and I've always known that in a wedding dress it would be perfect. In fact, when people see my dresses, they have no idea they're wool because they just look like any other dress. But wool is only 1.3% of the textile industry, which is just ridiculous. I want to increase this market space and I'm doing it in innovative and sustainable way.

"I do want brides to consider merino wool because it's a sustainable fibre. For example, one polyester wedding dress is the same amount of emissions of what two people create in one year. That's shocking.

"If I can increase the awareness of Australian merino wool, this fabulous fibre, and I'm getting other designers to use it and it's seen everywhere, then I'm doing my job."

Photography by Frankie the Creative

Nikki will now go on to represent South Australia at the AgriFutures Rural Women's Award gala dinner and national announcement in Canberra later this year, where the national winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 from Westpac and the national runner up an additional $15,000.


Read our interview with Nikki - originally published in OAK Magazine Issue 12.

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