A Margaret River business owner has been recognised in the Australia Post 2023 Local Heroes awards, collecting a prize package valued at over $5000.
Owner of The Vow Sleepwear, Maria Henderson, said she was thrilled to be the first Margaret River-based recipient of the award, which aims to support and celebrate small businesses for their contribution to local communities.
Maria said the inspiration to start the thriving sleepwear business came when she was at one of the lowest points in her life.
"At 16 weeks pregnant, I miscarried here in Margaret River Hospital, at 2am," she told the Mail this week.
"Part of my process was crying in the shower and putting on a good pair of PJs.
"They truly made me feel feminine, beautiful, warm, cosy, comfortable yet safe at such a horrible time in my life."
The comfort found in a great pair of pyjamas gave Maria the spark of an idea, which she hoped could help other women around the world.
"It was the hardest time in my life yet something so wonderful came from it," she said.
"I wanted to make [pyjamas] an accessible luxury for every woman.
"Now I have sold over 400 pairs, along with our famous L.A Slippers, eye masks, candles and mineral soaks.
"My dream is to support women in business and to truly get every woman in Australia into one of my luxurious yet affordable sets."
As the Covid pandemic raged around the world, Maria was dealing with a terrifying reality of her own, right here at home.
"At 12 weeks pregnant with my daughter Mela, I was told it didn't look like a viable pregnancy," she said.
"After lots of specialists appointments and delays due to Covid, we finally got the ok at 33 weeks pregnant.
"She has beaten all odds, and our very first pyjama set was named after her - MELA.
"She and my son Van are my biggest inspirations and my biggest blessings.
"I want to show them to be kind and to love, to show compassion and to realise the world is their oyster and can do anything."
The Vow Sleepwear has also garnered some high profile fans including celebrities and influencers Mia Fevola, Rayne Embley, Keira Rumble, Brittany Melinda and Monique Bowie.
But it's the real-world impact on women, children and babies that fills Maria with pride.
"From our very first sale we have donated $1 to The Women's & Infants Research Foundation here in Australia," se said.
"They do incredible things for women like supporting women's mental health, preventing women's cancer, preterm births, providing baby bundles for new born babies, and preventing female mutilation.
"We have also sent our free PJs and slippers to healthcare workers, childcare teachers and essential services along with donating a full one months wages to a local Margaret River woman who was battling breast cancer.
"We might be small but we have the biggest heart, and we want to support women's health and wellbeing."
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