Travelling in Merino with Leesa
Leesa Watego is a First Nations mother, wife, volunteer, and business owner. Starting her first business in 1994, over three decades Leesa has grown her business from nano and micro to now a small niche creative project team. Leesa’s business journey has been gradual and defined by her passion for continuous learning and exploration.
Leesa is the Managing Director of Iscariot Media Pty Ltd. She sits on the Queensland Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group, is a co-founder of Indigenous Business Month and Black Coffee Indigenous business networking. Leesa is an Associate Professor of Practice at QUT Business School and can also add Super Model to her list of achievements having modelled for Merino Country.
Managing Director of Merino Country, Kerrie, and Leesa have known each other for over 30 years and it is because of Leesa that Kerrie did the Simpson Desert Ultra last year - long story!
Leesa Watego, popped into our store to get some Merino travel clothing for her trip to Europe this year with her husband & internationally acclaimed artist, Vernon Ah Kee. It was early Spring time, which is not like our Spring here in Australia, much crisper and colder weather.
Leesa & Kerrie having some fun with different outfits in our Showroom
One great thing about our showroom/factory is that you can visit us and get advice from our travelling experts & tailor your travel wardrobe for your trip! Leesa allowed us to help her plan her travel wardrobe and it was great to get some photos showing how she styled and wore our Merino gear in Venice, Turin and London.
Taking some tips and tricks from The Five Kilo Traveller, Katherine, we helped Leesa choose items that would make her luggage lighter but still keep her warm. With so many issues with lost luggage if you can possible only take hand held luggage it makes travelling much easier without the stress of loosing your suitcase!
“I’ve been to Europe once before and I know that not everywhere has elevators and lifts. Carting a large suitcase up old marble steps is not something I was keen to do again”.
Merino is a perfect textile for travel. Merino is warm yet light so you don't need to take many layers, it is easy care and doesn't need to be washed as often, it's super comfy and of course stylish.
As Leesa's trips were for work, there were events and functions to attend so we had to choose pieces that were versatile and could be worn casually but also dressed up for formal occasions. She chose to wear some great basics in black with our red accessories for a pop of colour to brighten things up! Packing sensibly Leesa was able to take carry-on luggage for the 14-day trip.
The Base Layers For Travel
Leesa opted for 2 pants, the Straight Leg Pant and Drawstring Comfy Pants, 2 x Short Sleeve Tunic Tops and a Roll Neck Skivvy. By choosing these pieces in black, it meant Leesa could wear them together and rotate them without worrying about colour clashes.
These foundation pieces in classic black, were accented with her own variety of coloured scarves as well as our red Serappe, Beanie & Neckwarmer and Infinity Scarf - all of which can be worn in so many ways!
The infinity scarf is great for everyday wear too! Leesa wore it back home for a recent local trip to Stradbroke Island in the Australian spring!
Leesa hiking on Stradbroke Island, QLD, in a Merino T-Shirt & Infinity Scarf
“I can’t speak highly enough of the Merino-based wardrobe for travelling. It was so easy to travel with, and warm enough for an early European Spring (not warm at all in comparison to Brisbane’s climate). It was serviceable, comfortable, easy to maintain, and easy to make stylish and formal when I needed it. It’s the perfect foundation for day AND night, casual AND formal.
While the universal art-world “uniform” seems to be black, black, black, it was nice to add a pop of colour at this year’s opening of La Biennale Venezia."
Walking through the Giardini during the pre-opening Leesa wears basic black with our red Serappe.
It turns out that not all Spring weather is the same around the world! An early European spring can be colder than the coolest Brisbane winter. Travelling in Italy and then later in England, Leesa was grateful to have a travel wardrobe of Merino wool layers. Our Merino Serappe provided a perfect extra layer for the European spring, great for long walks whilst in Venice, Turino and London. Leesa also wore our Wundies and Socks.
“I had googled the temperatures, but as we were still pretty much in Summer, I didn’t really register just how cold it could get. It’s Spring, but not Spring as we in Brisbane know it. There were a couple of days I’m sure were colder than the coldest day in our winter. The Serappe gave me a that extra layer to keep out the chill. We were doing lots of walking and walking across the Thames can be extra chilly”
Travelling Light - Shoes
One of the bulkiest elements in any suitcase is shoes. Shoe comfort can also either make or break your trip. Choosing the right shoes to do lots of walking around European cities is very important! Leesa, traveled to Venice, Turin and London with only our Merino Wool Mate Shoes.
“I was stressing about the shoes. I really wanted to travel light and take only a small suitcase. I know that many parts of Europe don’t have lifts or escalators so my goal was to only need a carry-on size along with my backpack. Because we had a number of events to attend I needed something that could be versatile and not look out of place at a dinner or exhibition opening.”
“The Merino Wool Mate Shoe is amazing. It was immediately comfortable. There was no foot pain. One day we walked 15km in London and walking down Portobello Road in Notting Hill would not have been easy if I didn’t have the right shoes”.
Easy On and Off Mask
While our local folks think Brisbane’s Queens Street Mall gets lots of people, the number of people in Europe is off the charts!
“We wanted to travel but definitely didn’t want to get sick while we were there nor bring anything home. So even when we didn’t have to, we decided to keep our masks on most of the time. There were so many people everywhere in Europe, it was our small safety measure. I’m happy wearing masks but sometimes, when there’s no one around, you just want to take it off. What I like about the Merino Country Mask is that because it’s a tie up mask I could keep the mask around my neck all day, and just pull it on and off really easily. There was nothing pulling on my ears and nothing sitting around my chin. And because it was colder than I realised it would get, wearing the mask kept my face warm too!”
Travel Wear Inspiration
One style T-Shirt - 3 outfits. We styled Leesa in the Bottle Green Cap Sleeve Tee, with heels and a necklace . We then changed the look with a Burgandy Cap Sleeve Top, Long Swing Jacket and 100% Merino Bootleg pants - a great travel pant with a wide self fabric waist band and a lovely flowing leg for comfort and versatility and then teamed the Cap Sleeve T with our Pencil Skirt & Scarf For a casual look, just add sneakers!
The Merino Pencil skirt and 3/4 Leggings or 3/4 Pants are great basics to take in your suitcase especially in the heat. The Pencil Skirt can be folded compactly and is so versatile - you can get so many outfits out of the one skirt! We styled Leesa in the skirt with a Teal Tunic Top, then paired a Black Tunic Top with the 3/4 Pants and finished off with Blue Cap Sleeve Top with 3/4 leggings for a sportier look. The head band and rosette is actually one of our Narrow Scarfs which can also be worn as a belt or scarf!
Leesa recently attended GARMA, Australia’s leading Indigenous cultural exchange event, in the steamy, hot tropics of the Northern Territory, and wore her favourite 3/4 Sleeve Tunic Tops! These tops have a loose sleeve, gather at the back and are fabulous in the heat!
Leesa's latest project for 2023 is a program is run by the Mitchelton IMF Runners and Walkers and is open to Indigenous Australians, family and friends. The program is designed to provide a safe and inclusive space for folks of all ages to start or resume their running and walking goals
Need a some handy hints when packing? Smart Traveller Packing List