This International Women's Day, we reflect on the importance of embracing equity, not just for ourselves, but for all women working in agriculture.

In celebration of International Women's Day and the theme #EmbraceEquity, we thought it was a timely opportunity to share the three inspiring stories of the sisters behind INTACT.

The Neal Girls behind INTACT wearing merino wool knitwear

Meet Sam, Louise and Gabby, sisters who grew up on a family farm in Central West NSW and after spending much of their young adult lives exploring the world, each found their way back to the agriculture industry.

Sam is based in Wagga Wagga, working in communications focused on ag research, while Louise is the face of the third generation running the family farm and Gabby, the founder of INTACT. By telling their stories and sharing their experiences, they hope to inspire a new generation of women to take up the mantle and create a more equitable future for all.


Samantha Munro INTACT

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up where you are today?

I’m a Central West turned Riverina local, living in Wagga with my family of wild boys and working in comms focused on ag research. Despite growing up with the red dirt (or maybe because of?) I’m a water lover, often found chasing the black line, reading a good book, or off on a local outdoorsy adventure. I’ve lived in Wagga for the last decade, it’s been the ideal base for career, family and an easygoing lifestyle which suits me to a tee.

Why PR? I’ve always enjoyed writing, talking, building relationships and have generally taken an interest in all things creative. PR blends the best of these and my focus on agriculture was really a result of my upbringing, it is familiar, always relevant and I saw how PR could make a difference to the conversations about where our food and fibre comes from. This is why I’m so excited to be part of the INTACT journey and promoting the benefits of wool. I jumped at the chance to work alongside Gab when I was on maternity leave with my second bub, it was an ideal opportunity to get more involved in the sheep and wool industry, learn new skills and see what it takes to get a small business up and running.

The world of PR and communications is commonly associated with city based agencies and brands, how did you forge a path in PR and communications in the ag space?

There seemed to be a few contradictions on my path into PR, starting with me being raised in a small town, but completing high school in the city; bucking the trend of more study or work in the big smoke but heading west to a regional uni; studying PR and communications (which tended to focus on a city based career) but again turning west to find myself on an uncommon path in PR, working regionally and in roles focused on communities, the local industries and the big issues of the day.

My first job was in Federal politics, an eye opening experience, I’ve since worked in a mix of agency and in-house comms roles and for the last six years have been with AgriFutures Australia. Landing in jobs focused on ag was a product of living regionally and being genuinely interested in what the future of food and farming looks like. Good PR, great storytelling and solid relationships have a huge role to play in this space. 

Agriculture has traditionally been seen as a male dominated industry, how has the narrative changed and how has your work as a communications professional supported this to #EmbraceEquity? 

PR and farming couldn’t be more different in terms of gender stereotypes but it’s changing rapidly and female voices are a dominant force. I’ve played a part in embracing equity by sharing stories of women in agriculture, their pathways into ag and the exciting things they’re doing across media, socials, podcasts, events and the like. There’s so much more to ag than being on farm, the tech and innovation and different skills needed to make the industry thrive are exciting and there are amazing women in the mix bringing about this change.

What advice would you give to young women who are starting out in their PR careers and want to focus on agriculture?

You can build a career based on your values and the issues that matter to you the most in any industry. Be curious and ask questions - the ‘why’ is so important. Women bring different perspectives and skill sets to the rural workforce, there’s so much variety on offer and the more people with non traditional ag backgrounds get involved the better. There’s never been a better time to work in ag as a PR pro, shake up the conversation and find new ways to talk about agriculture.


Louise Wells Condobolin

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up where you are today?

I’ve always been an active, outdoorsy kinda gal, so once done with school in the big city I was automatically drawn back to the countryside. I spent many years based on the farm earning enough money to book a ticket overseas, travelling for months on end and returning home only when I had run out of money.

Over the years I’ve had all sorts of jobs, but travel was always something I got excited about. So I figured why not find something that could pay me to travel instead and landed a job as a tour guide, driving across the outback and around coastal Australia.

Despite living a gypsy life of sorts (yes, I had dreadlocks), the farm was where I grew up and was always something I was drawn to. With the drought well and truly setting in around 2018-19, I decided to head home and help out, and have now settled in for the long haul, living, working and loving being on the farm.

What is it that you're drawn to about working on the land?

I love the freedom and the wide-open spaces. Looking up to the sky at night to see the Milky Way, the wildlife, nature and of course the red dirt, there’s no better place to be.

There’ll always ups and downs, from droughts, floods, mice plagues and all the rest but it’s all about perspective. Mother nature is pretty cool and when you’re surrounded by her everyday, over time you start to see where the old farmers’ tales and stories passed down from generations come from. I also like the fact that what we’re doing on farm is always relevant and contributes to the bigger picture, the population is growing, everyone needs to be clothed and fed.

What do you love about working on farm and are there different ways of approaching farming as a woman?

I love being outside and the variety that comes with farming, no two days are the same, and there’s always something to learn. I didn’t have any formal training in farm or business management, everything I’ve learnt has been on the job, creativity is one of my strengths which I’ve found really helps with problem solving.

It’s interesting to have seen the generational shift in the role women play on the farm and agriculture in general, from our Nanna who lived on the farm, Mum and now me. Women are more involved than ever and for us it is a business partnership, you need lots of different skills on farm and women provide that balance and perspective, it’s not just about the hard labour these days.

I’m one of three girls and initially people probably didn’t think any of us would get involved in the farm, but so much has changed and I’m seeing more young women head home to work on farm which is cool to see. There’s plenty of young people to talk to, share stories and ideas, we have a great community which makes working on the farm enjoyable.

What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture?

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty - just remember to moisturise daily! Also, anything men can do, you can do. It just might take a little longer, or need a little more thought put into it, which usually turns out more efficient, safer or even easier.


Gabby Neal Founder INTACT

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up where you are today?

A sun-loving, margi-drinking, genuine. That’s pretty well how I like to sum myself. Though, I feel as though my life has been a continuous juxtaposition of all things farm and fashion. I love the red dirt and wide open spaces, which I’ll always call home, but then I live on the coast, spend my free time surfing and love to dress up and go out.

INTACT was very much a culmination of my passions and skillset off the back of the 2018 drought where I wanted to help do my part, and support the industry in which my family worked. So with half an idea in tow, I set about researching, working my way through the supply chain and connecting with those in the industry to figure out where to make a start. A few years later and with some spare time thanks to COVID, I launched INTACT in early 2022.

Looking back, I can safely say I ended up here by asking a lot of questions, saying yes, and staying true to my values and what I believed in. Having grown up on the family farm, schooling in the city and since followed a career that’s ducked and weaved its way across multiple industries and cities, I’ve definitely not followed the ‘traditional’ path for either industry.

Why wool? It’s a niche material in a vastly saturated market. 

I once heard someone say that as an adult, more often than not, we tend to find ourselves reaching back for the things we knew and loved as kids. While I didn’t know it at the time, growing up on the farm had a tremendous impact on the type of person I am today and is something I’ll forever be intrinsically linked to.

So when it was the height of the drought back in 2018 and I was searching for something that I could not only channel my interests but use my skillset - wool was a natural choice. Wool was something I’d been surrounded by my entire life and was linked to an industry I was passionate about. INTACT allows me to stay connected to the farm and know that I’m supporting and contributing to an industry my family has been involved in for (70+?) years. 

What excites you about INTACT and the role the label is playing in the farm to fibre space?

The endless possibilities! And the fact that we’re doing something a bit different. We’ve taken a homegrown fibre (not to mention an industry that is very traditionally male-dominated) and brought a fresh perspective, showcasing it in a new light.

We’re also blending the farm and fashion experience into a startup that couldn’t be more relevant in the age of fast fashion. Now more than ever is it important that we slow down and consider the impact of our choices have. INTACT is a label that walks the walk, we’ve cemented circular principles from the outset, working on our ‘end-of-life’ program and are wholeheartedly committed to working towards a better fashion future. It’s something I’m really proud of, to have been able to combine my skills and experiences into a label that is genuine in its contribution to the industry it’s built on.

INTACT crosses the divide between farm and fashion - how do you #EmbraceEquity?

First and foremost, we’re a female-led brand with an all-female team so embracing equity is something embedded within our brand DNA. I’ve also made it a point to work with and support the creatives I’ve had the pleasure of knowing from the early days of my career, many of which are female.

And particularly with things like this interview series, where we’re highlighting the stories of three separate women in ag, each with vastly different experiences and having followed a unique path that lead them to where they are today, hopefully, it inspires others to carve out their own story and pursue something they love, whatever that may be.

What advice would you give young women who are interested in pursuing a career in fashion?

Fashion is one of those amazing industries with so many avenues to explore, so depending on what it is you’re passionate about in life, there’s no doubt a connection somewhere. If you’re not sure where to begin, interning is a great place to start. You can take it for what it is and figure it out as you go.

Also, ask questions. Something my mum always told me. You don’t know what you don’t know and you’ll never know if you don’t ask. It’s been an invaluable lesson. Reach out to your network, DM people you follow, ask your boss, send an email - more often than not, people are willing and happy to share their thoughts.

the neal girls Lockerbie NSW merino wool INTACt 

March 08, 2023