We’re all shaped by our upbringing, and the attitudes towards girls and women of the time. Growing up in the 1970s, the cultural landscape in Australia encouraged girls to be modest, gracious and not ‘showy’. That is, it really wasn’t the thing to draw attention to yourself. The notion of shameless self-promoter was anathema to most mothers, because they had grown up in much more austere and conservative times. Daughters in my gen learnt to achieve quietly and modestly.
That didn’t necessarily hold us back. Hard work and focus, natural ability and competition in school meant that girls were already high achievers. I don’t remember high achievement being discouraged at all as a teenager in the 80s, it was more that girls should do it with grace.
One of the things I’ve discovered through launching a creative start-up is that designers – whether that be textile, fashion, interior, graphic or visual artists all go through a crazy circle of self doubt with the creative process. From the initial concept or idea (this is awesome) to the lowest moment (this totally sucks, I can’t do it) and back to a sense of exhilaration (I so can do this. It’s totally awesome).
But there’s another angle that is tied up in how we’re shaped as young girls. Quite aside from the wild fluctuations between creative self doubt and confidence, if you’re fifty or even if you’re fifty and fabulous, there can be a reticence to push too hard and an aversion to being seen as that shameless self-promoter mentioned above. As it turns out, designing is deeply personal and it’s like an extension of self, so it’s pretty much like exposing your vulnerabilities and revealing your entire self on the runway or on opening night at an art gallery. Saying, "hey my stuff is completely fantastic" pushes you right out of your comfort zone, and it's not what we were taught to do.
If hustling isn’t your game, then there’s the soft sell version - being your own brand ambassador. I always had in mind that Solar Bare’s designs would be easy and versatile, and could be worn from sand to street or beach to beach bar. I love wearing mine paired with white jeans and thongs or sparkly sandals to dress up the prints.
Each Solar Bare print tells a story from the Great Barrier Reef and with this year being International Year of the Reef, they take on an extra layer, helping to shine a light on the health of our oceans and the future of our iconic reef. As a World Heritage Area since 1981, it’s one of Australia’s natural treasures. Solar Bare is so proud to showcase the magnificent patterns of the reef on all our original prints.
And every now and again, as brand ambassador (pushing the comfort zone boundary even more), I take off those white jeans and stand in front of, rather than behind the camera.
PS I'm not a dentist, but I won't show my face on television (Oral B toothbrush advert, 1984)