'You don't look like a farmer': Manitoba sisters break barriers merging farm and fashion
Cassandra and Stefanie Lepp sow with style on Instagram
NOTE: This was originally published April 16, 2020.
They pose alongside a massive tractor, staring into the camera with a touch of attitude.
Both women wear torn, oil-smeared jeans, well-worn work boots and nondescript tops. Two massive buckets of oil sit on the ground in front of them.
They wear no discernable makeup.
In the fashion world, this is what you would call "farm realness."
And while they're posing like models, sisters Cassandra and Stefanie Lepp want people to know that their real job is actually changing that oil — and everything else that goes along with being real farmers.
The fashion meets farming photos, posted on their Instagram page @thetulepps, merge their two worlds.
The sisters, age 31 and 27, grow soybeans, canola, barley and wheat on their family farm in Rivers, Man.
They started their Instagram page two years ago. Their feed is a mix of farming work-life shots and fun fashion photos, which the sisters brainstorm and shoot together inside their shared home down the road from the farm, on the land, or inside the workshops on the farm.
The farming shots are taken during the course of their regular work days. The style and lifestyle photos, which often include their horses and their cadre of dogs, are more fanciful, posed and often ethereal.
The sisters are also the subject of a new short video by Winnipeg-based filmmakers Jim Agapito, Ryan Nash, Matt Purchase, Aleksandra Osipova and Paul Stabell, created for CBC's Creator Network and CBC Life.
WATCH | The Lepp sisters merge farming and fashion on Instagram:
The Lepps' Instagram page is more than just about taking beautiful photos.
They started the page, in part, to "showcase farming in a different light" and build awareness about the importance of farming, said Cassandra, 31.
They also want to help break down the persistent idea that women aren't or can't be farmers too, an attitude that still exists today, they say.
"We want to empower other women to just get out there and be whatever you want," Stefanie said.
"One of the things we really enjoy with the tulepps [Instagram page] is breaking down those stereotypes," Cassandra said.
They have nearly 16,000 followers, mostly from Canada, the U.S. and Brazil.
On Mondays, their Instagram feed is dedicated to promoting mental health.
"We try to keep it quite positive," said Stefanie, 27.
Keeping positive is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when farming continues as an essential service, Cassandra said.
Farming, by its nature, is an occupation done primarily in isolation, so the sisters have been naturally keeping their distance from others, they said.
They also worry about the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses in their community, so they are throwing them some love via their Instagram feed.
The sisters, like farmers across the country, are gearing up for planting, which they expect to start in early May despite COVID-19.
"Maybe the good thing to this is that people will appreciate farmers more," Cassandra said. "Maybe this will shift how farmers are needed."