Sigrid McCarthy


16 - 09 - 19

We are drawn to women who are dedicated to long term projects that focus on the betterment of the future, those who spend today educating and shifting perspective on how action can be taken for tomorrow.

A great example is Melbourne-based Sigrid McCarthy. Four years ago, Sigrid identified a gap in fashion media and launched Intent Journal, a sophisticated online magazine that lends her professional experience in social justice to the fashion industry. As Editor-in-Chief, Sigrid gently directs each feature to unpack ideas around ethical values, production and consumerism via open and transparent conversations with industry leaders.

We visit Sigrid at her family’s farm, a place that gave birth to her respect for nature, and holds her family’s values and spirit, qualities that Sigrid is harnessing in her adult life. It is a full circle of sorts, a nod to the cyclic nature of living with the land — a concept that is echoed in her work, which continues to propose questions around purpose and lifecycle, encouraging us to live happier, with less.

Images by Claire Summers.


Sigrid McCarthy

Sans Woman

If you’re feeling stuck, or uninspired, how do go about transforming your thoughts?

I take note of the natural world. I remember watching my dad when I was younger as he worked in the garden - he would spend half his time digging, chopping or planting, and the other half simply observing. This didn’t exactly make for a productive day, but years later I now understand the meditation behind his behaviour. Whether it is my work or an issue in my personal life, the answers to many questions can be found whilst observing nature.

What practices do you have around analysing or being critical of your own work?

I hold high standards when it comes to my work and creative output. While these standards drive my career forward, I can get caught up in always looking for ways to fine tune or better myself. This often means I am never truly satisfied by what I have achieved, so at the moment I am trying to take the time to feel pride in my work. When I feel too close to something, I sense check it with those who have the distance required to provide healthy critique.

How do you overcome feeling anxious or nervous?

I have always been somewhat of a worrywart, but it is remarkable how calming the simple act of watering the garden can be. My worries tend to wash away during this simple task. When it comes to moments of more severe anxiety - many relating to public speaking or work ventures - well these are always overcome via the act of doing.

How do you clear your head after a big project?

With a glass of wine, or a cathartic debrief with a close friend. I would rather not rely on these outlets as much though.

What are some systems you have in place to successfully get out the door on time?

At the moment, my partner... While our alarm goes off daily at 6am, I am still somehow rushing to leave the house two hours later. Intent Journal is a side project with no real structure, so I tend to get caught up working on a feature in the mornings while still in bed. I rely on my partner to remind me that it is not a Sunday.

How do you manage boundaries in relation to technical devices?

This is something I am still navigating. I have become much better at unfollowing any social media accounts I find draining - notably those that read like personal diaries - but I am yet to master being ‘deliberate’ in my use of technical devices. I still find myself drawn to my phone or laptop for no conscious reason. 
Years ago a friend said to me, “You control your phone, it does not control you” and this comment really stuck with me. Since then, I have removed certain notifications from my phone so that I actively need to check an account rather than have alerts disrupt me without my consent. One thing I would like to try is placing an alarm clock by my bed so that I can leave my phone in another room during the night.

Do you practice any of your family’s traditions from when you were growing up?

It isn’t a tradition as such, but I value time at the dinner table. While I am not a confident cook, I like to make an effort with the table setting by lighting a candle or placing a simple branch in a vase. My mother instilled in me an appreciation for detail, and this extends to most aspects of my life.

"In a world where private moments are now splashed across the internet, I find privacy in itself relaxing - the moments no one else knows about; the moments I can cherish as my own. This undocumented time can involve something as mundane as cutting my toenails; it doesn’t need to be much, it just needs to be mine."

What rituals do you practice in taking care of yourself?

Both my day-job and my side project are focused on human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Some days I feel my work so deeply that I cannot see past the social injustice and environmental crisis. I am told “climate grief” is a growing phenomenon. There are times when I actively pull back from current affairs as a way of taking care of myself. The privilege in being able to do this is not lost on me...

Another way I take care of myself is by recognising the ways in which my healthy, able body has served me. When I was younger I used to be so cruel to my body; now I try to demonstrate gratitude for its resilience and loyalty. This practice can be as simple as taking a deep, knowing breath or doing a little dance in my bedroom.

While self-care is often known as taking the time to nurture yourself, a significant element for me is who I surround myself with. I no longer tolerate certain behaviour or mindsets; instead I choose to surround myself with those who are genuine and kind hearted. In many ways, Intent Journal is an excuse to connect with the types of people who can help me take better care of both the world and myself.

Sans Journal

Sans Woman

Marta Rubio, The Bathing Series — Tokyo, Japan

Bathing with a kind heart turned inward, we find transformation in the mundane sensing a connection between effort and pleasure....

View series...

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