The insanely cool, inspiring and motivational Geelong women you should know about 

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The insanely cool, inspiring and motivational Geelong women you should know about 

Jacklyn Foster, Emelia Morris, Amber Dawn
Words by Talia Rinaldo

It might not be International Women’s Day but we can still celebrate these amazing females each and every day!

Universally celebrated on March 8, this International Women’s Day is dedicated to promoting equality and celebrating women’s achievements, while also looking at what we can do to continue doing so in the future to help forge a gender-equal world.

Uniting women (and men) across the globe, this year, it’s about creating a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; a world where difference is valued and celebrated and a world which is equitable and inclusive.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a bunch of inspirational local women, all of whom are doing amazing things in Geelong in 2022 – whether you’re reading this on the day or any other day of the year.

Emelia Morris

Emelia is a vibrant and infectious Personal Stylist, offering services to women and men who are looking to define and build confidence in their style.

From personal styling, working with talent on The Block, The Bachelorette and Married At First Sight, to assisting with Brownlow styling, directing fashion shoot with Indigenous healer and social media influencer Allira Potter which featured on Vogue online, winning the Australian Style Institute’s 2020 Style Awards ‘One to Watch’, and more recently earning the title of GT’s fashion editor, Emelia is a powerful force within the fashion industry.

Through styling and fashion, Emelia helps her clients to feel confident and empowered in their own personal style and wardrobe, to give them ‘feel good’ moments on a day-to-day basis, as well as give a glimpse into their personality without even having to say a word.

But it’s not just for her passion and skill at empowering people through fashion (seriously, her simple fashion tips and reels alone have been life-changing), but for her work in championing inclusivity and diversity in Aussie fashion. Through her social media platforms, Emelia shares brands that are inclusive of all shapes and sizes, showcasing beautiful pieces that can be found from size 16 and above. Consistently calling on the fashion industry to help shift their outdated narrative to one where women of all different body shapes and sizes were represented and catered for in both their sizing offerings and their advertising, Emelia is working to remind young girls and women that they are worthy and they are beautiful no matter their size.

Beauty is no longer restricted to one size, shape or skin colour and Emelia is at the forefront, pushing for change in clothing, intimates and activewear brands in the hope that you can find something you love.

Georgia Graham

Georgia Graham is the local powerhouse with an energy that just infects you from the moment she enters a room.

A long-time go-getter with an ambitious creative mind, Georgia’s determination, enthusiasm and social skills (very important) have taken her to some pretty incredible places over the past year. Previously working in real estate, Georgia went from daydreaming about success to finding it herself, beginning her own boutique brand management company, With GG.

Working with brands on new projects, social campaigns, diversification and development, her strong work ethic and eye for detail has seen her business soar, working with a number of local brands and talented individuals in some seriously exciting and inspiring ways. While she makes it look easy, starting your business is a hard slog and for that alone we’re inspired by her.

Among the amazing things Georgia has done though has undoubtedly been creating the event series, The Social Summary. Designed to connect like-minded, local people, The Social Summary provides a genuine opportunity to network, collaborate and support one other. Whether you own a business, are a freelancer, a creative, a muso, just in the concept stage of your own venture, or anything in between, Georgia has created an event where Geelong locals (or beyond) can participate in a modern networking event, based on a speed dating format.

Here, you will have five minutes with each guest where you introduce yourself and your business, brand or organisation, and then hear from the person opposite you. Following this, there will be an opportunity to stay, drink and chat further in a more casual setting. How great is that?!

Following two wild years where networking was kind of impossible, Georgia is helping locals meet new people and foster genuine connections in a safe and welcoming environment and we are absolutely here for it.


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Haylee Evans

Ambassador for all things street, skate and beer, Haylee Evans a Geelong based graphic designer, photographer and clothing designer and the woman behind the ever-enduring skatewear brand Bad Luck Zizzy.

Since arriving on the scene back in 2013 with a vibrant, yet grounded collection that encapsulates the relaxed philosophy of the brand and its creator, Bad Luck Zizzy has continued to make clothing for those that need a little extra luck, with bright colours, clever illustrations and wordplay. Her T-shirts, hoodies and long-sleeve crews are limited editions and there are rarely reprints so you know what you’re wearing is unique and entirely brilliant. Plus, she’s doing her bit to break the concrete ceiling where skatewear is becoming a more welcoming place for women.

Making universally-loved apparel that appeals to all genders, Haylee’s skills don’t just stop at streetwear. An artist through and through, Haylee also runs Outta Luck Studio, a Geelong based merchandise and design studio, creates logos for a bunch of local businesses and even collaborates and contributes her designs to a range of good causes. Talk about an all-around legend?


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Jacklyn Foster

Known for her big, bright, somewhat magical-looking abstract works, Jacklyn Foster is an intuitive, mixed media abstract artist who creates contemporary, fun and vibrant art.

Heavily influenced by the changing seasons in her life, as well as her relationships, people and emotions, her intuitive style of painting means that her work can be varied in both technique and colour palette. Creating primarily abstract, bold, still life pieces, we’re constantly impressed by her talent as she captures moments in time that often get overlooked.

Creating original artworks, Jackie has also worked on large scale art projects including “Me & Uoo Uoo” the Royal Children’s Hospital’s 150th anniversary, and the rare RSPCA’s 150th anniversary “Wombat in the room”.

While wildly talented, she made this list however for her Abstract Art Workshops that empower others to embrace intuitive abstract artwork, her creative mentoring session with emerging, beginner and upcoming artists, sharing her knowledge and wisdom to help others in their journey.

A woman of many talents, she also hosts a podcast where she explores the many aspects of life as a creative, small business owner, as well as bringing the banter by chatting with various guests from all walks of life.

Merrin Schnabel

Merrin Schnabel is a mum of two adorable boys, lifestyle and social media influencer, brand ambassador, presenter, content creator, speaker, business owner, and mindset, life, and business coach.

Even if you don’t know the name Merrin Schnabel, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Geelong Women’s Business Club. And if not, it’s time to pay attention.

Driven by the belief that every woman is capable of achieving amazing things and creating a community with like-minded individuals facing similar challenges in business and life, Merrin founded the Geelong Women’s Business Club as a platform to inspire, empower and connect businesses and women.

Here, Merrin gives entrepreneurs a platform to network with and mentor one another through speaking engagements and networking gatherings. The past few years have seen her curate amazing events with well-known speakers, creating safe spaces for women in business to be their authentic selves within business and life. If that wasn’t enough, she also partners with charities and non-profit institutions to promote their causes and donate what she can to help vulnerable and unprivileged people

Burning with the desire to be in service to others and contribute positively to humanity, guests leave Merrin’s events feeling empowered, stronger and supported, and that’s well worth celebrating.


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Abby Sleep

We love seeing local artists shine and Abby Sleep is one that continues to impress.

Raised in the small country town of Warracknabeal, Abby Sleep’s love affair with painting was initially born from school holiday boredom. As she grew older, art became her main form of creative expression and meditation. After moving to Geelong in 2017 to study psychology at Deakin University, Abby was inspired by the many artists in the region and began selling her own artwork.

Now as Abby Lee, this aspiring artist has gone from selling brightly-hued acrylic paintings, completing commissions, running online art classes, starting a podcast and beginning her freelance business Pimms & Paintings, one of the region’s most popular paint and sip workshops, to now opening her very own gallery and studio space in Geelong!

Talk about a powerhouse.

Named ‘Verandah Studio and Gallery’, Abby has scored a beautiful space in Belmont, right next to Paddington Café. Here she’ll be exhibiting more than 15 Australian artists on a massive 10 metre wall (big yes to supporting other artists), as well as hosting workshops and classes and offering studio and venue hire.

The gallery is due to open in April so keep your eyes peeled and get around this artistic superstar.


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Allira Potter

Geelong-based influencer Allira Potter (she/they), is a proud Yorta Yorta woman you should very well be across now. Not only is she a trained reiki practitioner, intuitive reader, energy healer, life coach and meditation guide, champion of local brands and diverse representation and all-round boss babe, but she’s also just released a book in what will no doubt be, one of the best reads of your life.

Dubbed a ‘guidebook for life’, Allira’s book Wild & Witchy all about allowing readers to bring in their most abundant life ever, and it may or may not be the only book you seriously need to pay attention to throughout your 20s (or 30s or 40s or any age really). Inside this perfect 256 page novel, the manifesting queen and ‘sassy, psychic witchy sister’ shares her journey and how you, too, can work through loss and grief, build unbreakable self-worth, learn to love every bit of yourself and identify your values. Wild & Witchy will teach you to live in alignment with your heart’s truest desires. From this space of clarity, calm and radical authenticity, you can finally begin to turn your dream life into reality.

Written in Allira’s trademark unapologetic, no-f*cks-given style (which you’ll fall completely in love with, we promise), you’ll find tasks, tools, techniques and a few witchy rituals to help you bring in your most abundant life ever.

“I want to think of this as a resource for the life things we may not be confident speaking about to friends + family. Some sections have pages you can rip out, write in and cry over.

“A book sharing deep moments in my life and resources I used to push through grief, loss and heartbreak. Something to HYPE you up when you’re not loving yourself fully. And a book with zero f&$!s filled with all the spiritual sassiness you need.”

As one of the most real and authentic voices, Allira is consistently one of our biggest inspirations.


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Sam Wilson

Another local killing the game, Sam is the founder of Sober Mates, an educational community platform for young sober curious people to connect and explore their relationship with alcohol.

Sam created Sober Mates after struggling to find a sober community in Australia that she identified with: “I started looking for communities, and there are some really good ones in the UK and the US, but I couldn’t find any in Australia that talked about our binge drinking culture, talked about giving up booze in your mid-20s, and talked about continuing to socialise,” said Sam.

Deciding to create her own community, Sober Mates has become an inclusive community to support the sober and sober curious people living in an alcohol-driven culture. It’s an incredible platform where you can explore your relationship with alcohol and find all sorts of tips on cutting down your alcohol intake and understanding your drinking habits in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.

Filled with amazing anecdotes and tips, you’ll find very authentic discussions about the very real struggles of sober life — things like sober dating, sober partying, and finding the best alcohol-free wine. What we’re most impressed with is Sam’s ability to create a safe space to explore. You don’t need to be sober. You may have already decided alcohol isn’t serving you or you may not, that is all okay. Here, you can question yourself about your drinking and decide what is right for you.

A regular (and well-spoken) voice on panels and podcasts, through Sober Mates Sam not offers tips on navigating social situations sober, but she empowers people to feel comfortable and confident socialising without booze and does so in the most loving, open and non-judgemental way – and there’s a lot to love about that.


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Amber Dawn

You take one look at renowned plus-size model Amber’s Instagram and what you get is a beautiful feed of authentic, real, imperfectly perfect bodies.

Having been a curve model for many years, Amber first handedly witnessed the need for more diversity within the fashion and modelling industry. It was extremely vital to her to shift the industry to be more inclusive so that every person could see their body represented in mainstream media. Wanting to encourage women to feel seen, represented and confident, Amber started posting images of herself in a bikini online, showcasing her scars and cellulite – something she had kept hidden for years. It went viral on Instagram, leading her to start the Non Airbrushed Me Movement.

Creating this body-positive movement, Nonairbrushedme embraces everything quirky and original about the human form. Its unbridled support for stretchmarks, cellulite, curves and wrinkles is not only inspirational but essential for breaking down unhelpful stereotypes around beauty. For that alone, she makes our list.

Alongside her social media platform, Amber launched Non Airbrushed Me Management, an International Mother Agency and Management Service that scouts talent and supports them to be the very best in the industry, allowing Amber to pursue her passion and lead the way towards untouched, relatable imagery and supporting positive and healthy body image.

If that wasn’t enough she’s also the brains behind Nyata, an ethical fashion label that promotes equality in fashion. Diverse, unique and not dictated to by trends, the label has established a strong presence, particularly in the plus size fashion scene since its inception in 2014.

If you’re going to follow models on Instagram, let Amber be the one.

Jo Betz

The resilient Jo Betz is a name we’ll continue to acknowledge. She is a widow, but not in the way you would imagine. Author of Grief – a guided journal, Jo is reshaping what it means to be grieve through storytelling and honest advice through her platform.

Whether it be through the death of a loved one, the loss of a marriage, a dream, a life you thought was ahead of you that didn’t come to fruition, grief is a shared human experience, and there’s no one better to learn from, laugh with and cry alongside than Jo.

Also a local marriage celebrant, Jo’s beautiful feed is a vibrant selection of family snaps and infographics that will keep your spirits high, while also offering a candid, intimate and a real insight into what all grievers face.


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Justine Martin

Thriving in the face of adversity and challenging stereotypes along the way, Geelong mum of two and grandmother of six Justine Martin has not let a slew of unfortunate and serious health issues stop her from curating multiple successful businesses over the past decade.

Ten years ago, Justine was hit with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis that forced her to give up the life she had become accustomed to as a successful career woman. As if the MS diagnosis wasn’t earth-shattering enough for Justine, she has also survived three different types of cancer simultaneously – melanoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma – and had heart surgery three times in two years.

Rather than allowing her hardship to overcome her, she has used it as a platform to inspire and make a difference in the lives of others. About three months after being diagnosed with MS, Justine started a Facebook group for people with MS in Australia where she was inspired to share her story. Two years later. she became an MS ambassador and started sharing her story again in corporate situations to help raise awareness. As well as using her own experiences of living with a disability to encourage others to take steps towards a positive future of their own by finding hope, overcoming adversity, and building resilience, Justine cemented herself as an incredibly successful award-winning artist, taking up art as a hobby as a means of therapy at the time of her MS diagnosis.

Taking control over her personal and financial future and becoming a resilience consultant, a professional speaker and of course a successful artist, Justine has built three businesses, including ‘JUZT Art Wellness Classes’.  The classes aim to help individuals like Justine who experience life-limiting illnesses and disabilities and aims to inspire people to use art as therapy. JUTZ Art Wellness Classes quickly became about more than just making artwork, with Justine’s online resilience course and membership being born from the program. The resilience course was developed as a means for Justine to impact and inspire people, not just within her local community but worldwide.

Proving unstoppable, as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, Justine and 23 women have co-authored ‘Courage & Confidence’ … a tool to empower women everywhere to Break The Bias in 2022. The book is a collection of inspirational stories combined with practical tools, tips and advice, with proceeds from the sale going to providing scholarships to The Women’s Business School for female founders.

What a woman!

Bec Connolly

Where do I start with Bec? Courageous. Inspiring. Smart. Beautiful… I could go on and on. Bec Connolly is an award-winning skin therapist with more than 16 years of experience in the field, who transformed her passion into a wildly successful skincare company Botanicals by Luxe in 2018.

Using only sustainable, skin safe and natural ingredients, Botanicals by Luxe skincare is ethically made, Australian made and owned, and entirely fabulous! What started as a small idea with one product soon transformed into a full range with 19 products (and more to come), filled with botanicals, plant and fruit extracts and active components to help reveal your best skin ever.

The products (face masks, cleansers, moisturisers, exfoliants) are all cruelty-free, vegan, free from nasties (no PEGS, parabens, sulphates), free from synthetic/artificial fragrances or colours, and they WORK. So there’s lots to love about someone who creates a range like that in your backyard.

But there’s more to Bec. Not only is she running her small family business alongside her husband, but she’s also heavily involved in the local community, regularly supporting the Barwon Health Foundation and an ambassador for women’s mental health initiative Liptember, in which she has been involved in for the past few years, sharing her story of postnatal anxiety, miscarriage and infertility with an aim to help others feel supported and comfortable speaking out. Just last year, as well as spreading awareness for Liptember, Bec donated $10 from every sale of her limited edition pink Liptember hyaluronic serum to help the cause.

A truly beautiful woman, inside and out.

Kerryn Taylor

Having just celebrated her second anniversary of opening a personal training studio in South Geelong and hosting her second local strongwoman comp, Kerryn is the definition of a goal kicker. Beginning her brand – KSS Personal Training – in 2016, Kerryn’s goal has always been about empowering women through strength sports in a non-judgemental environment.

A renowned strongwomen athlete and powerlifting, the South African native began her own fitness journey almost a decade ago, with a pursuit to become a healthier and happier version of herself through competitive weightlifting.

Dedicating to building up her physical strength, speed and power, Kerryn has competed in several strongwoman and powerlifting competitions in the past few years, with a bunch of accolades to her name (seriously she’s an absolute boss!). However, it’s her work in empowering the next generation of female sportswomen that’s got her on this list.

“I often get asked “why only women” and the simple answer is that I struggled with body dysmorphia and bulimia nervosa for 18 years before getting help and I really wanted to help other women overcome what I found to be the most debilitating way of doing life,” she says.

“The studio was a vision that I had to create a safe space for women to learn to lift weights and love their bodies without the intimidation of walking into a commercial gym for the first time. One of the things that makes me so happy is when my ladies tell me they have decided to join a gym because it means I’ve done my job and they feel confident enough to put themselves out there!”

Yeah, the girls!

In Memoriam: Shonel Bryant

Stylist, mother and founder of Support Your Girls Shonel Bryant is a name that will never be forgotten within local communities.

Support Your Girls was founded by Shonel Bryant upon her diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Shonel’s vision was to bring people together through her own vulnerability, in order to create a safe space for others to have a voice, to feel seen and be heard. She shared her story to make you feel less alone in yours.

Since its inception, the platform has become a force of like-minded souls who rally together to heal themselves and each other. This combines with her clear message of health self-advocacy in the “Support Your Girls” slogan tees that refer to both breasts and each other, which Shonel sold in order to start an important conversation around breast/pec self-checks and to raise money for youth education in that space.

Following Shonel’s terminal diagnosis in the last months of 2021, the Support Your Girls community rallied around her and her family, realising in the most profound way her vision for support and community.

Today, Shonel’s family seeks to keep her message and the spirit of her work alive in the world, through continuing the work of Support Your Girls in her name. Today, and everyday, we remember her.


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This list is barely scraping the surface of the amazingly talented bunch of women we have in our region. We’ll be back with part two, because there’s so many more women we need to be celebrating. 

Stay tuned and Happy International Women’s Day.