Pastures New: How Vanessa Bell Is Embracing Every Aspect Of Herself
The former model-turned-designer-and-farmer shares how she’s living out her purpose in more ways than one.
Vanessa Bell
By her own admission, there’s no concise way to describe exactly what Vanessa Bell ‘does’ for work. A former model with entrepreneurial spirit, she’s a designer (currently working on her first capsule collection of merino wool clothing with Victoria Beckham’s former knitwear designer), a farmer (she and her husband purchased the largest cattle station on the eastern seaboard of Australia in 2021), and a psychic medium (she recently launched Clarity For Queens where she helps C-suite executives develop a winning mindset through her intuitive readings).


But it’s these dramatically different components that all contribute to the magic that is Bell – something she’s only really beginning to appreciate. “I finally want to own, and embrace, every part of my business,” she admits over Zoom from her rural homestead on the mid-north coast of NSW. “For a long time, I compartmentalised all these different parts of me, but I’m really owning who I am and embracing every aspect of me.”


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One very big, very important aspect of Bell is her life on the farm. But make no mistake – this isn’t any old farm. Called Cooplacurripa Station, Bell and her husband have a combined landholding of 70,000 acres – over twice the size of Paris. “Not in my entire life will I ever see the entire property,” Bell explains. “It’d be like standing at the Three Sisters in Katoomba and looking out at the entire valley and that’s your land. It’s very old Biripi country, there are lots of incredible sacred sites on the property, and we have two of the world’s most pristine rivers that run straight through it. It’s such a privilege to live here.”


Bell refers to life on the land as a little like “stepping back in time”. “We run close to 10,000 head of cattle, and we have traditional stockmen who’ve been in the saddle since they were 14 or 15, and they’re in their 60s now. A lot of what we do is very much about getting up in the morning and watching the men saddle up, and getting the horses in, and the dogs – it’s all very much ‘station life’.”


Bell loves everything about it, and always has, despite growing up in the city. Her great grandmother raised her family in Dubbo, so she believes there’s a part of her that has always been firmly entrenched in the central west of NSW. It’s why she’s so passionate about respecting the land that she lives and works on.


“I feel very strongly about the fact that, as a white woman, I’m able to care for this land in a more nurturing way than has ever been done since white settlement, and that’s an audacious goal for me. It’s got nothing to do with me or my ego – that’s not where I’m coming from at all. Yes, we’re farming but we’re farming in a regenerative and very respectful way to the environment. I think that farmers can actually play a tremendous role in facilitating the planet, especially with climate change.”


Vanessa Bell 2


One way Bell is doing this is by developing her own range of beautiful Australian merino wool knitwear. “This is not about creating more fashion, something that I think is incredibly important to mention. We don’t need more of the same, as we’re polluting our planet with synthetic clothing. Instead, I firmly believe merino is the answer to sustainable forward fashion. It is so beautiful and yet you can rest easy knowing that if for some reason you were to throw out your merino garment, within three years it would fully biodegrade and return natural valuable nutrients back to the soil.


“What’s more, merino wool outperforms every other fibre,” she continues. “It’s UVA-protectant, fire-resistant, thermal-regulating, antibacterial, it aids with sleep and relaxation… It’s unbelievable.”


Bell’s love for, and clear connection with, merino wool is nothing new. In fact, she fell in love with the fibre many, many years earlier. First, during her successful modelling career when she watched how designers like Valentino, Max Mara and Giorgio Armani used it on the runway. And then when she had her son Charlie.


“When my husband and I fell pregnant, and we had our son, I was looking for something to keep him warm because we were south of Goulburn, which has an incredibly cold climate. My mother gifted me a family heirloom – a merino wool blanket knitted by my great grandmother, Sarah Jane Bond. It was stunning and I realised no one was making them.”


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So Bell began producing them as “a side hustle from the kitchen table”, she explains. Said ‘side hustle’ turned into a business that is still, to this day, very much a core part of Bell’s offering. The beautiful blankets take three to four months to produce and are a unique luxury item. “There aren’t any 100% Australian merino wool heirloom baby blankets anywhere else in the world,” she says proudly.


Not surprising really, considering there’s no one quite like Vanessa Bell in the world either. Particularly when you consider her psychic abilities. “I’ve had this gift for a long time. I would have been about seven or eight when I became conscious of the fact I could hear and see things, but it really took off when I read for Kylie & Jackie O on breakfast radio. I was also called in to help the police solve a cold case, but I felt that wasn’t for me.


“Part of my journey is to help C-suite executives really rise using my ability to read and empower people in a no-nonsense, non-mystic-and-purple-velvet way. That’s been part of the fantastic response to Clarity For Queens; that I give that kind of guidance. And now I’m finally accepting it’s part of my purpose too.


“At the end of the day, it’s none of my business what other people think of me. However, if I can really step into this and own it – say ‘this is who I am’ – then hopefully I can help other people achieve their dreams too.”


Vanessa Bell Shares Her Working Wisdom

My career began… with a test shoot in the back streets of Kings Cross in Sydney. A photographer, make-up artist and stylist transformed me from a 15-year-old school girl into a model. I still have the original polaroid on my desk which launched my career with Harper’s BAZAAR Australia.


I start each workday with… a daily ritual of intention, gratitude and manifestation. If I’m at the Station, I enjoy a coffee before sparking up the satellite and getting online.


I end each day with… a walk with my son and sausage dog ‘Mini’. She has the same wheel-base ratio as a Mini Minor and adores chasing snakes, much to my horror.


At work, I couldn’t function without… technology. Satellite internet, specifically. I use various platforms as plugins to conduct my business, focusing on connection, gravity and flow.


My greatest strength is… my self-belief. This didn’t just happen overnight! I’ve been through a process to unlock barriers to allow me to embrace my true self. I’m direct, determined and focused. I’m fluid in business across a large-scale, mixed farming enterprise and fashion wool business. My intention and purpose are anchored by my values of courage, innovation and integrity.


My productivity hack is… self-care. I firmly believe consistent self-care aids in concentration and creativity, fuelling productivity. Self-care is not an indulgence, it’s a discipline. In fact, I wrote a short e-book on this very topic in lockdown!


I manage my stress by… knitting, mowing the lawn and horse riding. I love the mindfulness and rhythmic qualities of knitting and mowing – they have more in common than you think. As for riding, there is something truly special about working with animals, moving cattle across the river, or riding across a range with the sun on your back.


A good day is… being covered in red dirt checking the crops or penning up my sheep, or being in a fashion shoot wearing Dior. It’s being present. I’m such a visual person, I enjoy the dynamics of nature in play and the juxtaposition of city life. The joy of opening an excellent bottle of wine or being overwhelmed by the scent of lanolin in the shed. I feel and live life fully.


A good meeting is… one where there has been a beneficial exchange of energy. I hope to add value to people’s lives in whatever capacity possible. A good meeting for me is one where ideas are explored, passion is shared, and action is taken to deliver results previously thought impossible.


A good service is… genuine. It’s not forced; it’s driven from the desire to guide, delight or educate in a truly open and supportive way. Service is elevated when delivered from a place of passion and authenticity.


The most rewarding part of my job is… creating heirloom pieces and women’s knitwear from nature’s miracle fibre, Australian Merino wool. It is truly joyful to know our baby blankets are keepsakes designed with love and longevity in mind. In terms of my new women’s knitwear collection, it will be fashion-forward, but not at the cost of the planet.


And the hardest part is… not having a physical team on hand to laugh and connect with. Rural women living remotely rely heavily on connection hubs and other networking groups to learn and grow. Zoom has been a welcome addition to the tool kit, but nothing compares to meeting face-to-face.


My favourite piece of business advice… is to own the power of your story and not to be afraid to lead and disrupt.


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