Sarah Ferguson awards Aussie fashion label prestigious prize

Acala Stem just received regal praise for its revolutionary and ethical business practices.

An Australian brand has just taken home a very prestigious – and very regal – award in London. Leanne Savage, who is the founder of ethical luxury brand Acala Stem received the highest Gold accolade for the Duchess of York: The Unsung Hero prize at the Women Changing The World Awards. Acala Stem was recognised for its unique ethical practices in luxury market as well as their use of highly-sustainable lotus silk.

The award is presented by Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, Duchess of York and aims to champion the work of incredible women. It’s particularly aimed at women making a positive difference in the world across business, sustainability, leadership, health and education.

According to the institution, The Duchess’ prize seeks to “elevate, celebrate, connect and support women in their journey as changemakers, trailblazers and leaders.”

However, The Duchess of York Special Award wasn’t the only prize Leanne claimed on the night, the founder also snapped up Gold for Woman in Sustainability and Gold for Humanitarian Impact for her work.

Acala Stem
Leanne Savage accepted the Gold for Woman in Sustainability and Gold for Humanitarian Impact in addition to the Unsung Hero award.

Leanne was also recognised for her commitment to humanitarianism and ethical fashion supply chains which are the pillars of her brand Acala Stem. The brand has a unique supply chain which allows seamstresses to work from their villages with flexible hours. The aim of this is to allow the seamstresses time to spend with their children and avoid the coercive conditions often associated with factory work.

“After my experience as a teacher in Cambodia, I couldn’t believe the conditions that are put on women, particularly single mothers, and the impossible choices they’re faced with regarding employment in developing countries,” said Leanne.

“There is a dire lack of opportunity for steady employment in rural provinces, but no shortage of skilled workers. For many born into poverty, there are little opportunities, so it’s our responsibility to create those opportunities.

“My vision is to motivate and inspire other women of all ages and nations to reach their goals and know their dreams are possible, no matter what the adversity.

“I want to see an increase in the endangered art of loom weaving and a reduction in mass produced textiles. More loom weaving means more employment in rural regions and less in factories with slavery and coercion.”

Acala Stem
Leanne was inspired to start Acala Stem after her experience as a teacher in Cambodia

The incredible news comes just months after another Australian won another prestigious royal award from Prince William. Maddison O’Gradey-Lee, who co-founded the Orygen Global Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellowship, won the Diana Award in April.

The 26-year-old was flown to London along with a handful of other recipients from around the world where she was presented with her award and met with Prince William and Prince Harry.

“He was so lovely and kind to us,” Maddison says, explaining that they only had mere moments to chat with the Prince of Wales while accepting the award.

“He asked me about my work, what I was doing and the journey to get there and then we also discussed just how long it is to travel from Australia to London,” Maddison added.

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