From Nicole Warne in Tasmania to Brooklyn-based Natasha Sakai, we uncover exactly what makes a mother’s love universal in an intimate portrait series.
“Everything people tell you about parenthood before you have a child is true,” says Nicole Warne, the digital influencer and entrepreneur, consultant, creative director and brand partner for everyone from Airbnb and Moët Chandon to Burberry, Dior, and, of course, David Jones. “I didn’t think I could love any more deeply or my heart expand as much as it has,” she continues. “I never thought I’d love feeling this exhausted all the time, but seeing how the love, patience and hard work I invest into Suki is shaping her into this independent, confident and curious human is so rewarding.”
It’s a sentiment that rings true for mothers and mother figures globally, and since having Suki two years ago with photographer Luke Shadbolt (who captured the images here), ‘mother’ has become the title Warne values most. It’s also given her a new appreciation for her own parents. “Only when I became a mother could I understand and appreciate the depths of how much my parents did for my family – the sacrifices they made, the long hours they worked, the time, energy, love and space they dedicated to raising us.”
The love in Warne’s family is palpable, even to her two million Instagram devotees, many of whom follow her journey from afar. Her profile page also reveals that Warne is a global ambassador for Adopt Change, an organisation that works to provide stable and nurturing upbringings for vulnerable children. It’s an important role to Nicole, having experienced the joy of growing up in a loving home after her parents, Robyn and Ian, brought her home to Sydney from Seoul when she was just five months old. Through Adopt Change, Nicole helps ensure other adopted children are as fortunate as she has been; that they too have the chance to forge familial bonds that are as strong as hers. “I’ve always been in awe of my mum, but now I look back and question how on earth she did it all,” she says. “She is the happiest and hardest working person I know. She led by example and showed me the importance of a strong work ethic, independence and initiative from a young age. I respect and appreciate her even more now, and I feel so grateful to have had such a great role model to help prepare me for my own journey into motherhood.”
As any parent of a toddler will know, some days, that journey is all about the joy of a new word or skill learned – or even just a good night’s sleep. “Her face lighting up when she sees me as soon as she wakes up is easily my favourite part of the day,” says Warne. “She’ll wrap her arms around me and we’ll lay with Luke reading a book. Just feeling the love she exudes is more than enough for me.” Other days, it’s much, much simpler: “Honestly, if my daughter eats the meal I’ve made for her, then it’s a great day and I feel the most appreciated!” Ultimately, says Warne, it’s about providing a safe and nurturing space for Suki to flourish – which is something Warne’s mother has inspired her to do. “My mum believes that your mind only becomes old when you stop being curious – at 52, she went back to university and completed a double degree in Nursing and Dementia – and I hope to instil this passion for learning, and energy for life in Suki.” Luckily, “that shouldn’t be too hard as my mum and daughter are already so similar,” says Warne. “They’re twins.”
“Other than having grown and birthed our daughter, which I’m eternally grateful for, Nicole’s really opened my eyes to the fact that it’s possible to achieve anything that you put your mind to. She is incredibly inspiring like that.”
Luke Shadbolt, Nicole Warne’s partner