Written By Trish Morton-Smith
Lavinia is a social media and public relations consultant who runs her business Lavinia Wehr Social between her family farm in Esperance and Perth Residence. Lavinia has recently commenced with the RRR Network and shares with us her career journey so far, her passion for supporting agricultural and rural businesses and building community within rural Western Australia.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 24-year-old social media and public relations consultant currently based in Esperance. For the past two and a half years I have built my own business providing public relations and social media services for a variety of businesses in Perth and Western Australia. More recently I have found my niche in supporting agricultural and rural industries which is a dream come true, especially now that I am working with the RRR Network. I am truly passionate about building community within rural Western Australia.
I grew up in Esperance and had a somewhat unique upbringing. My parents separated when I was quite young, and my parents let me make the decision to stay on the farm with my Dad. Living with my Dad provided me with a different perspective on gender roles. Not only was my Dad running his own business, but he also cooked dinners and made school lunches. I attended school in Perth once I was in year eight, initially as a boarder, which was a bit of a culture shock. There were students from vastly different backgrounds, plus I was very independent and found it challenging to adjust to the rules and restrictions. Luckily, I changed to a day student when my Mum moved to Perth.
I definitely knew early on that I was interested in public relations and communications. I was a big fan of Roxy Jacenko. At the time there were no thoughts of connecting it with agriculture – I just wasn’t aware of all the opportunities available. I researched all of the relevant degrees and Curtin University was the most forward-thinking and digitally advanced. The course gave me the fundamental skills needed for this career path. I also joined the Public Relations student chapter and completed some fantastic internships.
One of these internships led to a job with the Perth Royal Show and I made the most of this experience. It was my first real job and opened the door to how many opportunities there are in communications and the many stories there are to tell in agriculture. This was when the passion ignited, and I got really excited.
How did you start your own consultancy?
I began by helping people I knew with their social media and it slowly grew from there. I worked at the Royal Show again and had a few articles written about me and a write up in the Farm Weekly. Through word of mouth and social media, my business has grown. I now work with a variety of clients. It can be demanding, and I do have stressful days, but when I stop and reflect, I am so grateful that I can work from the farm or in Perth, be my own boss and choose my hours. I’ve done the hard yards and things are slowly coming to fruition.
Tell us about GenerationAg
The GenerationAg podcast and media company was born out of the fact that there’s not enough education and awareness of agriculture in Australia for young people. I met Kayla Evans at an event last year and it was one of those right place right time moments. We both had the same goal – to make people aware of the services and products based around agriculture and rural business. There hasn’t been a genuine platform for young people in Agriculture in Australia before and there are many stories to be told about the innovations and career opportunities in the industry. There’s now a large community established through the podcast and we are planning some great events for 2021.
Tell us about your role with the RRR Network.
I am developing a new digital marketing strategy focussed on building the community and increasing community for the next generation of young women like myself. We’re also providing RRR women with more resources, more local community resources and growing the social media network for rural women to connect online. As RRR women it’s not always possible to attend events in the city and so providing that space online is important. We also need to keep sharing the stories of the many remarkable women who are changing the industry and perspective of rural living. For a long time people haven’t seen the value of living in rural or remote areas and also having a corporate or bigger career. It’s definitely possible, you just need to be aware of the opportunities and the resources available.
What advice would you give to young women living in regional, rural or remote areas?
I’d like to say to any young women who are for example, from farms or living rurally, even if there are people doubting you and you’re not sure where your place is in the industry, there is a place for you. People are seeing the value of women in the industry in many different roles. I hope they don’t feel deterred or let negative comments stop them because you will find your tribe, it just takes time. I would have loved to have told my 17-year-old self that. It’s all about mindset and learning as you go.
What’s your ultimate goal?
If I can change one person’s perspective, help someone grow their business and help them become a leader in their industry then I’ve done my job.