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Connecting to a higher force: how nature sustains Heidi Middleton

One of Australian fashion’s biggest success stories of the last couple of decades or so is Sass & Bide, a designer label created by two inspiring young women and best friends from Brisbane, Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke. This phenomenon had its origins in a stall in London’s Portobello Markets, and grew into one of Australia’s coolest and most distinctive fashion brands. While the label remains, its creators have moved on to other ventures, both related to fashion, but with more of a focus on each woman’s personal passion.

For Heidi, who trained at Queensland College of Art, it’s Artclub, a creative salon in Sydney’s Surry Hills that combines fashion with art and community activation. Officially described as offering ‘atelier-made art, environmentally-conscious garments and vintage designer pieces’ Artclub is an online retail business and also a physical space where Heidi creates and curates paintings alongside limited edition clothing made from deadstock (remnant) fabric. Her priorities are ‘honouring people and the planet,’ offering thoughtful, ethical and sustainable alternatives to fast fashion.

Spending as much time in nature as possible is essential for Heidi, a mother of two, and luckily, she lives in Palm Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a stunningly beautiful region surrounded by water on three sides. We asked her to tell us more:

What’s your favourite thing to do in nature?

I’m not a traditionally religious person but if I were to consider a higher force, it would be the natural world.  I like to spend as much time close to her as possible. Mother Nature is our greatest gift. I always suggest that my daughters turn to nature if they feel overwhelmed by life. I believe that Nature is life’s greatest tonic and healer for both emotional and physical challenges. 

I like to soft-sand run twice a week at Palm Beach. When I reach the northern headland I press my face against the surface of one of the large rocks, close my eyes, breathe and have a moment of gratitude before running back. It grounds and soothes me. 

Describe your connection to nature: what positives does it bring to your life? 

Nature has provided me with joy, comfort and inspiration throughout my life. I love that she’s accessible for everyone and costs nothing to enjoy. We are so lucky to have her at our fingertips. It’s essential that we acknowledge her importance and respect and protect her in every aspect. 

What are your fondest memories of spending time in nature?

As a child I had the good fortune of growing up on semi-rural properties on the outskirts of Brisbane. My childhood was spent building cubbies in the bush with my brother or riding my horses bareback through local fields. I was blessed with a creative and free spirited youth that was surrounded by nature. 

Many of us are time-poor and might not get out into nature as much as we’d like. Any suggestions for a quick nature-based pick-me up? Something sensory, experiential…?

A reminder to connect with nature on a daily basis is a good start. Whether it’s sitting on a patch of grass, getting up early to watch the sunrise, going for bush walks or walking outside in general, ocean swims, stopping to appreciate plant life and flowers … all of these things bring us back to the moment, and we are rewarded with calm, joy and a feeling of contentment. 

PS I also stroke, compliment, sing and hum to my indoor plants and watch them flourish!  


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