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International Women's Day!

A business by women, for women, all thanks to the women who came before us.

As I sit in my little home studio writing this post, I hear the heavy rain pelt sideways on my window. I have a chuckle about how many things have gone wrong this week, and despite it all, I know I can call mum and whinge, and she always has some funny stories to throw my way.

Right now, my front window is broken with the potential for more rain to come in. (We are living through some pretty hectic storms here in Australia). So instead of letting me get carried away with stress, mum casually laughed and shared many stories about all the times she and my dad broke a window. By the end of our 45min phone conversation, we had shared so many funny stories about all these different times a window broke. My stomach hurt from laughing, especially considering numerous stories involved:

-my dad being funny,

- a dog, (we had a lot growing up)

-and or a ball.

But the key thing I realised is that they were all just an accident, but you already knew that.

See, that's the thing about mum; her superpower is that she always humanises a situation. We all know a broken window is an accident. But, instead of saying it directly, she gently leads you to your own conclusions.

There is something powerful about growing up that way. Mum said I was always the kid who never got bored and would play in the backyard for hours by myself. I think a lot of that stems from her fostering curiosity over always having an answer. And if you asked her about that, I guarantee she would say it is because I asked random questions like "what's inside a dog?" However, I think that mum just genuinely understands and appreciates everyone's sense of personhood. I feel that is a big part of why I love filming for our YouTube channel because the only limit to our creativity is time.

That's the thing about Mum; her superpower is just making you feel human. If you have ever been in class with her and you've made a sewing mistake, she just patiently helps you and doesn't let you feel like it's a big deal. "We are all human", she would say, "Oh well, it happens".

Mum is the type of person who looks a challenge in the eye and winks at it. She is a calm, patient force who, as we all know, is really, really good a teaching people to sew. This ability to handle many personalities while always being empathetic stems from growing up as 1 of 12 children with her mum, Jeanie, at the helm.

Jeanie was a say it like is woman. You always knew where you stood. She was a fantastic sewist, "not seamstress", as she used to say, "I don't just sew seams in straight lines!"

Unfortunately, we lost her last year, and daily I think about the serendipitous events through her life with mum and mum's life with me that led us to Pattern Poole. Back in the day, Jeanie used to sew for David Jones, making their one-off custom pieces for clients. I asked her how she landed that role, and she said, "well, I wouldn't take any other".

She taught mum to sew with a hands-off approach. Mum would run to her for a step by step de-brief when sewing something.

Until one day, Jeanie said, "you didn't come to me",

and mum remarked, "Oh, I didn't need to".

After that, Jeanie encouraged mum to become a fashion designer. So at the age of 16, mum would have to go to fashion houses all over Sydney to work while studying. When I asked her about it, she said,

"I was really nervous because with the old Sydney fashion houses, they were big factories, and you could never tell where the front door was.

So I would walk up to what I thought was the front so nervous people could see me through the windows fumbling about".

I remember laughing for so long, and then it dawned on me that mum never mentioned she was scared to sew or show them what she could do. She was more scared about the door than her capability to do the job. "Jeanie must have taught her well," I thought.

One of the last stories grandma told me before she left this world was about a tight white corduroy dress with a split up the back of the skirt. It was a dress she had made for her first date with my granddad.

I was shocked when she told me this story as I had always seen her as grandma, the strict catholic that loved to sew and sing. I always wondered about who she was before children, and I was lucky that she shared some of her stories in her last year alive with me.

Safe to say, she was very rebellious and knew her own mind from a young age. I think about these stories a lot; I feel connected to the fierce woman Jeanie was before she was a mother. I also feel the same about my mum before she was a mother, and I often wonder who I will be one day.

See, that's the thing about women and why we are so special. Our true lives and our most authentic selves exist in an entirely hidden place within the Patricharical male world we live in.

The media we consume, the books we read, the art we love, the history we subscribe to have all been curated for centuries under the male gaze. Women make the ultimate sacrifice; we let go of our identity when we all become mothers and wives. The things that define us are put on hold while grappling with our new roles. I am now experiencing this with my friends starting families. It is beautiful, but also, the sense of fear associated with our fleeting youth / potential career trade-off is a scary battle.

I learned this from growing up surrounded by amazing women all sewing with mum in our home. Not only did I get to gorge on countless leftover cakes, sweets and treats with my cheeks stained by lipstick kisses, I also felt a great sense of wisdom imparted on me. Stories of immense strength, quiet triumphs, loss, pain, all encapsulated by the feminine essence. The fierce power and strength were always coupled with an undying sense of yearning for a community. That yearning is intrinsic, and that is what quilting and sewing is; it is that eternal feminine desire to be expressive, creative, and part of a community. It is to gossip together, grieve together, to create something and hold each other up when society hasn't always made it so easy. But most of all, it is to be seen without the shroud of the patriarchal gaze. To be more than, "That (insert hair colour) chick", "That old woman", "That loud lady", "The crazy lady", and so on.

International women's day is a day to recognise how far we've come towards gender equality and also how far we have left to go.

Even though Jeanie has left this world, Mum and I still feel her daily. We always look at the time and see 11.11, and there are so many little moments where it feels like she is there. When I told Alex about this, he said it makes sense. Being the science guy, he remarked that the egg I came from formed in my mother's womb when my grandma was pregnant with my mum. So essentially, we are all part of our grandmas. We are all connected closely to the women in our lives. I thought that was pretty special.

But anyway, I really wanted to say that I am very happy to work in a business with my mum, that is for women and about sharing the skills of an artform as amazing as quilting. Now, I could go on another rant about how underrated textile arts are within society as they are deemed "woman's" work, but I will save that for later.

Our community has grown to over 41,000 people, with the majority being women. Amazing, inspiring, incredible women, all showing up every day to continue the lifelong quest of learning.

So here's to you, the real you! We see you and love you, and thank you for paving the way for the next generation of women and men.

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Mar 11, 2022

What a lovely piece Alaura. I can relate to this greatly as I also had a very talented “sewist” mother. I am sure my calmness with my sewing is influenced by her, as I have no problems with mistakes and consider them a design variation opportunity. Well done and thank you.

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