Women of Influence: Part 1

To commemorate 10 years of South Australian Style, we’re celebrating 10 women of style and influence – their stories of fearlessness, humility and success have helped shape our state into the home we love.

Wardrobe by Rundle Place
Jewellery by Aurum Jewels Adelaide

Rebecca Morse

Rebecca is an award-winning journalist who presents Adelaide’s 10 News First bulletin and co-hosts Hit107’s breakfast show Bec and Cosi, writes a popular column in local parenting magazine Kiddo, and is a proud ambassador for the Animal Welfare League, Kickstart for Kids, the Premier’s Reading Challenge and the Port Adelaide Football Club, all while being a mother to three daughters.

“I pursued a career in journalism because I loved writing and talking, and I was always curious.

Getting a cadetship at the ABC was my big break, and the training and experience I received during eight years at the national broadcaster have been invaluable. I still draw on things I learned at the ABC every day.

I didn’t fulfil my early ambitions of becoming a foreign correspondent but I’ve had really valuable postings in Port Pirie, Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne.

The Snowtown murders is one of the biggest stories I’ve covered. I was dispatched as a junior radio reporter from Port Pirie and had no idea what was ahead of me. At that stage, I was told there had been just one body found in a bank vault. Once the scale of the story started to emerge, more senior journalists were sent in to take over from me!

I consider winning South Australian Journalist of the Year and being a Walkley Awards finalist as career highlights, along with being named Best Newcomer in the Australian Commercial Radio Awards last year.

I love my job reading 10 News First, the team, and that every day is different and dynamic. It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing it for 14 years! I recently received a lovely Instagram message from someone who said she had grown up watching me read the news. That made me feel both honoured and old!

I’ve had to deliver some terribly sad stories over that time. The loss of Crows coach Phil Walsh was one of the toughest, I found it very hard to maintain my composure. Any story that involves the death of children is also very difficult to read.

Adding breakfast radio on Hit107 to my day is my latest challenge! We have a lot of Iaughs but I love how we can make a difference on issues that we are passionate about. My favourite moment so far was Reclaim the Run – after two women were assaulted on their runs, we organised an event along the Torrens to show our solidarity with them and send a message about violence against women. We expected about 200 people and thousands turned up. Radio can be so powerful when it’s harnessed for good.

The big challenge though is the alarm that has a 4 in front of it. I don’t get many chances during the week for a nap, so coffee and early nights are the only secret to survival!

I think women in particular are still reluctant to acknowledge and celebrate their own success. I don’t believe we should measure our success by comparing ourselves to others. I do consider myself successful in my career, but I don’t think I’ve nailed the work/life balance yet. I’m working on that this year. I’m taking steps to improve the balance in my life and have more time with my family and friends… my three daughters are my proudest achievements – they  surprise me every day with their strength and sass.”

Rebecca wears:
Check biscut coat, $299.95, Witchery 
Tailored houndstooth blazer, $279.95, Witchery
Mock cinnamon tank, $59.95, Witchery 
Houndstooth short, $99.95, Witchery 
Soft pouch clutch, $69.95, Seed 
Morgan leather boot, $349, Witchery 
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery italian 18ct gold necklace, $6,800, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery lotus earrings, $5,750, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery diamond lotus ring $10,350, Aurum Jewels Adelaide

Nici Cumpston

Nici is many things at once: the Artistic Director of Tarnanthi, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art for the Art Gallery of South Australia, a prolific artist who has been exhibiting her works since 1998  – with works in prestigious galleries including the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria, a writer and educator.

“I pinch myself and think ‘Wow, how did I get here?’ I can’t tell you how honoured I am to be in these roles. They’re big roles, but I don’t take them lightly. I feel a great responsibility in the work that I do, and I also feel very grateful and deeply honoured to be able to work in this position. It’s quite collaborative. I feel very grateful to be able to liaise with artists every day, to talk to them about their practice and how we can work towards showcasing their work, or how we can acquire their work into the collection.

Everything I do is about relationships. All of the projects that come in as part of Tarnanthi are through conversations and through linking people with other people, so it’s really building relationships between people. It’s about listening and it’s about supporting and just providing a bit of insight for people who might not be aware that there are organisations out there that can support them.

There is still a way to go in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists. There are certain areas that are receiving funding, but there are country areas like the Riverland, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln or Ceduna where there could be more support. Also, nationally, I think we’re getting there, but there are a lot of Aboriginal artists who have a lot to say and it would really help for them to have their voices heard. Quite often it’s through works of art that we’re able to actually get a sense of what life is like for people in different areas of the country.

One of my proudest achievements is that I worked with Uncle Badger Bates, who is one of my elders. He created a major body of work for Tarnanthi in 2019, but just being able to spend time with him, and being able to learn about him and his practice and bring that to life in the gallery space has been really quite remarkable for me personally because of the cultural knowledge that I’ve gained working with him, and being able to gain a deeper understanding of his connection to Country. For me to be able to think about that and to be alongside him, travelling through country and hearing all the different stories and building that relationship with him, has been very rewarding, personally and professionally.

I think success is about satisfaction and that feeling of just being happy with the way that the people around me are feeling, that there’s joy. What I’m doing also has to be the intention of the people around me so we’re all working toward the common good. Together we are feeling satisfied with either the outcome or the way that we’re working towards the outcome. That’s really important to me. In life I need to be kind and thoughtful, and that needs to come through in everything that I do.

Now that I’m in my 50s, it’s like ‘well this is who I am, and this is what I’m doing’. I’m comfortable with being all of these different people – curator, artist, writer, educator.

Even though I’m so very busy, I still can’t stop myself from making work, because it’s in me, it’s my passion, I have to make images. I’ve got this compulsion to make. That’s who I am and that’s my life. I’m going to continue to be the best person I can in everything I do.”

Nici wears:
Mix spot print skirt, $199.99, Blue Illusion 
Lace swing shirt dress, $229.99, Blue Illusion 
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery shooting star earrings, $7,400, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery rutile quartz medallion and diamond sprout necklet, $12,800, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery rutile quartz lotus ring, $6,800, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery gold love bracelet, $14,100, Aurum Jewels Adelaide

Melanie Flintoft

Co-founder and Creative Director of innovative international Adelaide-based fashion business, Australian Fashion Labels.

“When I finished university, I always knew that fashion was my future – without a doubt, there was no second option. I always assumed that it was going to be my future.

Originally, I was happy to have an Australian-made brand, keeping it quite small and retail based. As it grew, it became more exciting to think about having a global business. When I met Dean, we had that same vision and it grew into Australian Fashion Labels, starting with Finders Keepers.

When we had young children, I think we had about 20 staff working from home. We did have a big house to manage that, but we were lucky enough to be able to blend family and work together, which is not the norm, but we did it.

When the business was about two years old, we decided to manufacture in China… that was a real turning point in our company.

Australian Fashion Labels is almost 15 years old now.
Our China strategy has been a huge part of what we’ve been doing for the past five or so years. We’ve set up a wholly owned subsidiary in China, so we have a domestic business in China. We have Chinese staff running a Chinese business, and we’re producing and wholesaling and retailing there. We’re growing.

I think the key changes over the past 10 years have been the rise of social media and the decline of retail. Bricks-and-mortar retail is still an important part of retail, but for us, we have pivoted away from it.

Eight years ago, department stores were a major part of our business and now they would probably be around 20 per cent, rather than the 50 per cent it was previously. The decline of department stores was a slow thing, it wasn’t sudden. So, for eight years or more, we’ve grown our online strategy.

I feel like, with Dean and I, we are always resetting and looking at what’s on the table for the company. We’re forever striving. We are now moving towards sustainability in a really big way. We just came back from Shanghai at the end of last year, looking for sustainable manufacturing options and fabrications.

It’s been full on. The fashion industry is relentless. But I also feel like the fashion industry gives you the opportunity to keep growing all the time, which is exciting – you never get over it.”

Melanie wears:
Ohara leather belt, $99.95, Witchery 
Waisted blazer, $189.95, Seed 
Flat front trouser, $99.95, Seed 
Ashley heeled sandal, $179.95, Seed 
Italian 18ct neckring, $6,980, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery nature creole earrings, $5,565, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Robert Demeglio Jewellery 18ct diamond bracelets, from $8,450, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Robert Demeglio Jewellery 18ct diamond ring, $4,530, Aurum Jewels Adelaide

Interview: Sharmonie Cockayne
Photo: Gretl Watson-Blazewicz
Styling: Chris Kontos
Client Liaison: Ellery Mitchell
Styling Assistant: Tiana Della-Puta
Photography Assistant: Adam Stanley
Hair: Monique Hateley, Clipjoint
Makeup: Samantha Vlassis