An Australian woman who beat the odds and launched a successful sustainable wool fashion brand has been recognised for her incredible contribution to her community.
Designer Emily Riggs, from South Australia’s midnorth, has been crowned the overall winner of the 2022 Shine Awards, a joint initiative between The Weekly Times and Harvey Norman.
Ms Riggs was recognised for establishing Iris & Wool, a brand that showcases sustainable Australian wool, honours her mother who died after battling breast cancer, and gives a slice of profits to charity to help other families who are fighting the disease.
Harvey Norman chief executive officer Katie Page, who was on the judging panel, recognised Ms Riggs for her courage and determination to help others, something she said epitomised the 120 women nominated.
When she was 10 years old, Ms Riggs was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Shortly after her diagnosis, her mother lost her own cancer battle, aged 43.
Ms Riggs writes on her website that, in her most difficult days, she found herself turning to fashion for comfort and to express her creative flair.
Ms Riggs and her husband Tom, a fifth-generation merino sheep farmer, run 15,000 merino sheep across four properties in Burra, South Australia. And, in 2019, she founded Iris
& Wool and finally realised her dream to design, merging her love of fashion with merino wool.
The Shine Awards, established six years ago, celebrates rural and regional women who make a real difference to their communities and industries.
“Six years is a relatively short period and yet in that time drought, bushfire, Covid and floods have been such dominating, inescapable forces,” Ms Page said.
“The brilliance of the women of Shine is that these collective challenges are not their story; their stories are one of triumph, innovation, determination and camaraderie.”
Herald & Weekly Times chairman and News Corp Australia Community Ambassador Penny Fowler said the quality of nominees shone brighter every year.
“It is always a great honour to judge these awards, as these women truly make a difference to their communities,” Mrs Fowler said.
“The Weekly Times is delighted to partner with Harvey Norman to bring these women’s incredible stories to life.
“This year’s finalists and winners are doing inspiring work and truly deserve the spotlight. As a company, we are proud to amplify these important stories across our news network.”
The Shine Awards has attracted more than 1000 nominations and celebrated more than 100 finalists and winners from every state and territory since its conception.
This year’s 19 finalists include flood-relief volunteers, farmers, mental health advocates, businesswomen, educators and technology pioneers, hailing from South Australia, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Winners have been named in six categories: Belief, Courage, Dedication, Grace, Passion and Spirit, with a special Youth award going to a nominee under the age of 30 who shows potential to be a future leader in her field or endeavour.
Each category winner has been awarded a $2500 voucher from Harvey Norman and the overall Shine Awards winner receives an additional $5000.
2022 SHINE AWARDS WINNERS
Bianca Tarrant, Our Cow founder, Baryulgil, NSW
Tanya-lee Holmes, Imperfectly Perfect Sugar Cookies founder, Bathurst, NSW
Bloss Hickson, organic farmer, Rolleston, Queensland
Carly McKinnis and Tammie Meehan, Clinical Psychologist and teacher, Ararat, Victoria
Passion and Overall winner
Emily Riggs, Iris and Wool founder, Burra, South Australia
Naomi Moran, Koori Mail general manager and flood relief co-ordinator, Lismore, NSW
Claire Harris and Kate Strong, Hoedowns for Country Towns dancers, Maleny and Spring Creek, Queensland