The Princess Formerly Known as Fergie Crowns Three Awesome Australian Women

Women Changing The World Awards
Marie-Antoinette Issa

Lifestyle Editor

Jun 08, 2024

Throughout her life, Leanne Savage has worn many (stylish) hats. However, the founder of Acala Stem – Australia’s first ethical and sustainable luxury brand championing lotus silk – may have just donned her sparkliest one yet. Recently honoured by former royal family princess, Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson with the prestigious Duchess of York Special Award for her exceptional work in combating slavery and poverty through sustainable and ethical luxury.

Alongside Leanne, other remarkable individuals like Liz Courtney and Tando Matanda were also celebrated for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields at The recent Women Changing The World Awards in London. Liz received an award for her impactful work in the media industry. Specifically focusing on shedding light on climate change issues through film and documentaries. Tando took out the gold award for the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

Liz Courtney and Duchess of York
Liz Courtney and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

“Taking a moment to reflect on meeting Sarah Ferguson, Duchess Of York, learning about her passion for supporting youth around climate change, and receiving this amazing award for my work in climate communication is truly just sinking in,” says Liz Courtney. “There is so much we can all do to be part of the change needed in the world today. Let’s consider what we can do differently in our lives to reduce our personal carbon footprint and start to be that change.”

Tando and Margaret Matanda, Co-founders of MUSA Ventures Photographer Andrea Francolini
Tando and Margaret Matanda, Co-founders of MUSA Ventures Photographer Andrea Francolini

As for Leanne, she clinched not one, but three gold awards. And, her recognition in categories such as Woman in Sustainability and Humanitarian Impact, alongside the esteemed Duchess of York Special Award, underscores the profound impact of her endeavours.

Leanne’s journey is a testament to resilience and determination. As a single mother, humanitarian and entrepreneur, she embarked on a mission to address poverty and uplift vulnerable communities. Particularly women and children, from the clutches of modern-day slavery. Her brainchild, Acala Stem, stands tall as Australia’s pioneer in ethical luxury. With a focus on lotus silk as a sustainable textile.

The ethos of Acala Stem revolves around its unique supply chain. Which empowers seamstresses in rural villages with flexible working hours and fair wages. Leanne’s passion for social impact traces back to her experiences as a volunteer English teacher in Cambodia. A period when she discovered the endangered art of lotus silk weaving.

Through Acala Stem, Leanne is not only redefining modern luxury but also preserving traditional craftsmanship. By introducing lotus silk to a wider audience and securing exclusive rights for its distribution in key markets, she is opening doors for employment in rural regions. While simultaneously diminishing reliance on mass-produced textiles associated with exploitation and slavery.

Leanne’s vision transcends her brand; she aims to inspire women worldwide to pursue their dreams despite adversity. Her story serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the transformative power of fashion when coupled with a social conscience.

Whether your passion for fashion is rooted in style or substance, Leanne’s achievements, are certainly worthy of celebration. And, a recognition of both her success in the fashion industry and the profound impact of style for social change.


By Marie-Antoinette Issa

Lifestyle Editor

Marie-Antoinette Issa is the Lifestyle Editor for The Carousel and Women Love Tech. She has worked across news and women's lifestyle magazines and websites including Cosmopolitan, Cleo, Madison, Concrete Playground, The Urban List and Daily Mail, I Quit Sugar and Huffington Post.



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