With tickets sold out quickly and a queue of women at the front door, this year’s Ruralco Ladies Night – titled Fashion off the Farm – was an absolute hit with female Ruralco members.
The glasses were full, and the laughter was bubbly as over 130 women joined Ruralco and selected suppliers for this year’s Ladies Night. Held in the Ashburton Ruralco Gift and Homeware’s store on Wednesday 2 October, the Ruralco Ladies Night, now in its fourth year, was a fantastic opportunity for rural women to enjoy a night of fashion and to find out how best to dress.
Ruralco staff had transformed the middle of the Gift and Homeware store into a fashion centrepiece, presenting a stage with a gorgeous backdrop and seating and tables for women to mingle and chat. Around the outside of the store specialist suppliers had been invited to contribute to the evening, with the products and services on offer chosen to support women’s positive sense of self, health and wellness. These included Allenton Pharmacy, Latitude Magazine, Samantha Rose Flowers, Paper Plus, Talbot Silver, Bellissimo Day Spa, Style Footwear, with Tanglez Hair Studio, Mode Boutique, and Emmily Harmer Photography also present and having all contributed earlier in the day to the makeover of four women.
The event began with drinks and nibbles and then the formal part of the evening was compered by Ashburton local and retired long-time fashion retailer, Christine Todd. Throughout the night there were spot prizes and draws with each ticket holder also receiving an amazing goodie bag full of vouchers, aromatherapy oils, body wash, candles and other lovely treats.
With four women set to receive makeovers, one of these was ticket holder, Sarah Wyllie. Sarah got an absolute shock when she found out she had won, and after accepting the opportunity, she spent part of the week prior to the event getting made over. On the evening the final touches of makeup were put on. Sarah then bravely faced the crowd, with personal stylist Bibi Maber elaborating on the style choices made to help complete Sarah’s look. Photographer Emmily Harmer then took Sarah aside and conducted a series of fashion shots. Sarah looked stylish, fabulous and very natural.
Izania Downie, Ruralco’s GM Marketing and Communications was one of the women who bravely put themselves forward for a consultation and makeover with Bibi. “I’ve never seen a stylist before, so this was quite confronting. I realise I hide more of my figure than I need to. This challenged my thinking and I recommend the process to other women who are ready for a change and a challenge” she said. Izania’s leopard print dress was subtly matched with nude heels and the look was accentuated with bright red lipstick.
Having helped achieve gorgeous looks for Sarah, Izania, Jo Hyde and Sarah Bennett that they felt comfortable with, Personal Stylist Bibi Maber, who was the key speaker for the evening went on to say, “changing your clothes and your relationship with your wardrobe can be positive both physically and emotionally. This doesn’t mean you have to follow fashion trends, just means by taking the time to discover what your body shape is, you’ll then dress more flattering to fit that.”
Bibi’s story is certainly one many can relate to. Originally from Canada, Bibi told the Ladies how she’d struggled with her weight and at 24 years old she hit her heaviest at 130kg. “This was breaking point for me. I felt like so many people were disappointed in me, so I made a decision to lose the weight.”
Over the next four years Bibi shed the pounds and reached her goal weight. “After I lost the weight there was an assumption that somehow weight loss had made me a happier and better person, but it hadn’t. Maintaining the weight loss was hard work, I was constantly watching what I ate, would sometimes be going to the gym twice a day and found myself avoiding certain social situations if they involved food. I realised I wasn’t bringing joy to my life. The self-love I was searching, that I thought I would find in losing weight, wasn’t there for me” she confessed.
Eight years ago, at aged 35, Bibi came to New Zealand for a fresh start. With a passion for fashion and having previously trained as Certified Image Consultant in Toronto in her 20s, Bibi realised that helping people embrace their personal style with a body positive approach was what she wanted to do. Studio Bibi is based at The Tannery in Christchurch and Bibi runs Workshops and styling sessions in conjunction with the fashion boutiques based there. Bibi said “since realising there was no joy in punishing myself, I’ve taken a step back and realised that weight is probably the least interesting thing about me! I have changed how I think about myself, I’m remarried, and am building my business to help people discover and embrace themselves.”
To understand how to dress for your body shape, Bibi stays away from suggesting you try and figure out if you are an apple or a pear, her philosophy is to build your body confidence by first understanding what you like about your body. “Decide for yourself what your assets are and what parts are most you are proud of. Then take measurements, including the length of your upper and lower body” she said. She then discussed how using clothing to accentuate your best features coupled with understanding your length, proportions and symmetry, you’ll be able to create a balanced look.
Ruralco’s Fashion off the Farm Ladies Night was a hugely successful event. Staff were pleased to host another sell out event and be able to see so many women connecting and having time off farm after what was no doubt a busy calving and lambing. Celebrating the feminine side of the co-operative acknowledges the partnership that Ruralco has with both male and female members. Ruralco looks forward to hosting another Ladies Night in 2020.