Leading the way in new ideas are the trendsetter, but is important to acknowledge it is more than bravery which propels the trendsetter. It is a cultural strength and breadth of knowledge. Knowledge is a powerful tool, passed down through thousands of generations and acting as the foundation for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, practices and traditions. This week as part of Indigenous Business Month, we’re introducing you five of the bright trendsetters in the Welcome to Country community who generously share their strengths through incredible, innovative businesses.
Brodie George -Kitikiti
Walmajarri woman Brodie George is the visionary, owner and operator behind Kitikiti. KitiKiti beautifully combines Brodie’s passion for art, Walmajarri culture, caring for Country and the health benefits of natural skincare. Kitikiti means armpit in the traditional Walmajarri language, pronounced “giddy-giddy”.
Brodie explains the inspiration behind her art and business “I moved over to low tox lifestyle 3 years ago and the biggest impact was natural deodorant so I introduced it to my beauty salon and then rebranded it to its own entity.Early this year I close my salon due to Covid and decided to make Kitikiti my full time priority.”
When explaining what she loves about having her own business is “it gives me the freedom to create and run wild with ideas. Kitikiti uses all Walmajarri language to name products along with artwork which is great as it is teaching the customers about culture through their products.”
Melissa Cole – Yaye
Melissa Cole is the owner and founder of Yaye (pronounced Yah-Yah in Arrernte). She is a proud Warumungu and Luritja woman. She grew up in Alice Springs, Mparntwe, Arrernte Country who is currently live in Darwin on Larrakia Country. Through her many years working in Education, she had the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from many incredible women. I regard these women as my Yaye’s, my sisters, who have always supported me. That’s why I proudly named my business Yaye in honour of these women.
Melissa explains the inspiration in creating Yaye started “During my time teaching at Yipirinya School we would go out bush for learning on Country, so I knew there were many plants in Central Australia that had antiseptic and healing qualities. I began researching how to make a hand wash that would smell great, offer antibacterial properties and include bush medicine extracts from native plants that grow in the central Australian region.”
As a new business Melissa hope that this is just the start of Yaye’s success, “My dream is to have Yaye stocked in major stores like Mecca or Myer. I will always use First Nations models and share the story of the bush medicines contained within my ranges. I also encourage my customers to donate to Yipirinya school and look forward to finding more ways to support them as my brand and profits grow.”
Amanda Healy – Kirrikin
Amanda Healy is from the Wonnarua nation – Traditional Owners of the Hunter Valley in NSW. Amanda developed Kirrikin in late 2014, and Kirrikin is a social enterprise sharing profits with the artists it collaborates with, to address the shortage of authentic Indigenous products. Kirrikin creates sustainable fashion and accessories featuring contemporary Indigenous artist works translated to fabric. “Working with established and emerging Indigenous artists, each has a unique style, message and intent behind their work. And a percentage of every Kirrikin purchase goes directly to the artist involved in the design.”
Kirrikin is an Aboriginal word that roughly translates as “Sunday’s best clothes”. It was a part of the original language recoded by missionaries visiting the Hunter Valley early in the 1820’s – it is also part of Wonnarua language revitalisation. “Our designs revolve around identity through exploring Aboriginal people, traditions, and their land. Spirited products that capture the essence of Australia.”
Amanda quotes Galawuy Yunupinga to explain the interconnected idea of culture, art and Country and why artistic expression is so vital “When we paint – whether it is on our bodies for ceremony or on bark or canvas for the market – we are not just painting for profit. We are painting as we have always done to demonstrate our continuing link with our country and the rights and responsibilities, we have to it. Furthermore, we paint to show the rest of the world that we own this country, and that the land owns us.”
Emma Bamblett and Megan Van Den Berg – Kinya Lerrk
Emma Bamblett and Megan Van Den Berg are the founders of Kinya Lerrk, an incredible business dedicated to bringing culture and respectful acknowledgements of Country into homes across Australia. Emma is a Wemba Wemba, Gunditjmara, Ngandjonji and Taungurung Woman and Megan is a Yorta Yorta, Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Woman.
Kinya Lerrk began when Megan and Emma were approached to produce an acknowledgement of country plaque for a hotel. The ethos behind Megan and Emma’s innovative business is “to make spaces beautiful with art/products and respectfully acknowledge Country in the process.”
Emma and Megan shared the role that Kinya Lerrk plays in their lives as First Nations Women, “Kinya Lerrk first and foremost is our passion and it brings so much joy to our lives. Art has always been the centre of our love and passion for what we create. Secondly, we deeply care and believe it is important to acknowledge country and support spaces to be culturally safe.”
With so many people spending more time at home over the past 2 years, Emma and Megan expanded into their range to offer homewares that celebrate Country and culture. “We could see the opportunity to create our own range of products that make homes not only look nice through our tea towel and print range but also smell nice through our candle and diffuser ranges.”
Emma and Megan shared, “It is a privilege to be part of Welcome to Country community as we have the opportunity to showcase our products… We love that we can highlight our products and be up there with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.”
Sharon Windsor – Indigiearth
Sharon Winsor, a Ngemba Weilwan woman from Western NSW, is the founder of Indigiearth. Indigiearth provide premium bush foods made from authentic Australian native products that are ethically sourced and sustainably harvested. Sharon is passionate about connecting people with Aboriginal culture and heritage through native foods. Indigiearth is now recognised as a leading NSW Indigenous business with the experience and knowledge of bush food.Sharon’s greatest past-time as a youngster was to collect bush fruits and catch yabbies, which has led to her passion for sharing Aboriginal food in its pure form to everyone. Combining her culinary training with an unparalleled knowledge of Aboriginal food, Sharon began catering in 1996, serving Western Sydney with a taste of the outback whilst developing and testing innovative ready-to-use natural products.
After years of workshops and corporate catering, Indigiearth was launched to the food industry in 2012 with twenty-five premium native foods. Demand by chefs and home cooks for on-trend, premium quality native foods has steadily increased, allowing Sharon to further develop and introduce an ever-growing range of responsibly sourced products. Today, Indigiearth offers over two hundred products including native foods, candles, diffusers and the new all-natural Skin Care range. Sharon Winsor has assisted Aboriginal communities to set up wild harvesting, business enterprises and purchases produce back from those communities.