Woman in Innovation: Indigo Walker
"We don’t need to wait for permission or approval..."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
I am the one-woman show that is Topsy-Turvy Intimates, a mini eco lingerie label. I make underwear for women of all shapes and sizes using fabrics that are either second-hand or recycled. I am also home-schooled and currently finishing my last term of Year 12, which is a little scary.

I started making my own lingerie because the brands I liked didn’t make underwear in my size and I felt like their marketing campaigns were not diverse in their representation of women. I wanted a lingerie brand that was inclusive and empowering. So I decided to create one. The idea sprouted in December 2016 and by March 2017 I had launched Topsy-Turvy Intimates. It’s all flowed on from there.

Body positivity is something I emphasise. I want to show models who look like real women, who are different sizes, ages, ethnicities and abilities. The fashion industry can make people feel excluded and underwear shopping can be quite a vulnerable experience. I don’t want to exclude women, I want to celebrate everyone’s differences and show people that there’s a lot of beauty in diversity.

I’m also passionate about the environmental aspect of my business. So much fabric waste and clothing goes into landfill every day; we need to find innovative ways of re-purposing these materials. Turns out underwear can be made from many different fabrics and they don’t need to cost a fortune either.

Why is innovation important to you?
Innovation is important to me because it keeps the world changing and evolving. To me, innovation means improving old systems or practices and making them more inclusive and beneficial to everyone. Without innovation, we wouldn’t grow as a society.

I also believe it can solve a lot of the world’s environmental problems, we need to create innovative ways to re-use materials and I really enjoy seeing the different ways people have managed to up-cycle different materials.

What drives you to make a difference?
I want to make a difference so that other young people feel empowered to change things and have their voices heard. I want to encourage teenagers to be brave and to have the confidence to develop their own ideas. We don’t need to wait for permission or approval, we just have to have the courage to take the first step.

Creating a better world for the next generation of girls is also a big motivator for me. When I was younger I didn’t see representations of young women I could identify with in the media. The vast majority of advertising sends a message that women should look and behave a certain way and that if we don’t we are worth less. This is such a damaging narrative to be teaching girls and it needs to be changed. We need brands that celebrate our differences and tell a different story about young women’s strength, uniqueness, diversity and value. I want young women to use their energy for social change, not body change.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
To me, the saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see” is so true when it comes to getting more women and girls into innovation. My advice would be to have positive, inspiring role models for girls to aspire to be. Before I started my business I’d never really heard much about women in innovation. I wish I’d known how many amazing women were starting their own innovative collaborations and businesses in my local community. Living in a rural town I assumed that start-up businesses only worked in the city, turns out there were heaps in my local area I’d just never been told about them.

I also think we need to make meetings and workplaces a safe space for everyone to pitch ideas in. It can be hard to have the confidence to put forward your idea and I think especially as women we aren’t taught to be as confident in our abilities as we should be. If we create spaces where new ideas are welcome and making mistakes is expected I think we’ll see more women emerge into the spotlight in innovation and entrepreneurship.

We need to let women know that their ideas will be taken seriously and that they are entirely capable of making their creative dreams a reality.

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