My blog has always celebrated small, local businesses and the amazing work they do to support the environment, and their communities. Today, I want to shine a light on Australian businesses that are owned by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, or support their communities and their culture.
Blaklash Creative is a 100% Indigenous owned business that delivers creative projects and cultural events that showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the team behind Blaklash. Amanda grew up in Logan city and has cultural connections to Kalkadoon and Wakka Wakka Country. She previously worked with state government, leading community engagement, exhibitions and events. Troy is a proud Aboriginal man from Kamilaroi country with a Bachelor in Journalism. Troy has experience working for not-for-profits, government, tertiary education, private and corporate sectors. The pair are both interested in contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual art and advocate for self-sustainability and economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities.
The business may be young, and the current lockdown has likely delayed various events, but Blaklash Creative already have an impressive portfolio including Brisbane City Council Indigenous Art Program, Tomorrows Traditions (showcasing the evolution of Aboriginal song and dance in South East Queensland) and Floating Lands (a collaboration with Noosa Art Gallery and Creative Alliance to organise First Nations community painting workshops for Brook Andrew’s Travelling Colony project for Floating Lands festival 2019).
Blaklash have also collaborated with Boxvintage and Local Makers Collective to create Open House Collective. A curated retail space that also tranforms into an art gallery for one-off exhibitions throughout the year. “It is a dynamic and energetic community venue showcasing an eclectic array of vintage clothing, local makers & designers, slow fashion, homewares, Aboriginal art & products.”
Proudly Aboriginal owned and led, Sobah is Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer company. The husband and wife team Clinton and Lozen Schultz wanted to create a delicious tasting alternative to alcoholic beer.
“Founded by Gamilaroi man and psychologist, Clinton Schultz, Sobah functions from the philosophies of Gamilaraay Lore ‘dhiriya Gamil’ along with other lessons he has been fortunate to learn from Elders from around Australia. These include acting from a position of respecting people, place and the environment; understanding and working towards fulfilling responsibilities to that we are connected to; and, engaging in positive reciprocity.
“Sobah is leading a conversation surrounding Australian societal issues with alcohol consumption and breaking down the stigma of socialising sober. We promote healthy lifestyle choices and wellness, social equity, sustainability, raise positive awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, smash stereotypes, unite people and of course, our beers quench thirst.”
Tabitha and her daughter Mabel are two kind humans with a Facebook group, dedicated to helping others, and sharing ways we can all do the same.
After Mabel saw her mother performing random acts of kindness such as complimenting a stranger, or buying cookies for the study centre she saw the positive difference it could make. Mabel wanted to take action too and Undercover Kindness was born!
“Together, we have done all different acts of kindness, and Mabel is the driving force on social media with this joint project of ours. We have a strong focus on showing kindness to our mob, especially our sistas in remote communities. Mabel has coordinated the collection of quality, second-hand clothes to send to the Remote Op Shop project. We’ve sent countless happy boxes to our sistas in outback communities. Mabel has designed her ‘little packs of comfort’ for our mob sleeping rough, and recently she has written beautifully decorated letters to mob stuck in nursing homes without visitors due to COVID-19 isolation.”
P.S. I discovered Undercover Kindness via Ascension magazine, which is where this quote is from. I will no doubt feature Ascension magazine in greater depth soon as they are pretty awesome!
Maggie and Laura are the dream team behind Magpie Goose, a purpose-led ethical fashion business. They are dedicated to generating new economic opportunities for Aboriginal people living in remote Austraila, and connecting non-Indigenous people with Aboriginal art, culture and stories through fashion.
Maggie and Laura are both non-Indigenous, however, they have first hand experience within remote Aboriginal communities. Maggie’s experience as a Welfare Rights and Civil Lawyer at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency led to her traveling to remote communities across the Top End of the NT working with Aboriginal people on immediate legal needs and larger systemic problems.
“Through her remote travel Maggie was introduced to and fell in love with the beautiful textiles that were being designed and hand screen-printed at community art centres. In working intensively with clients disenfranchised and impoverished by Community Development Program/ work for the dole, she realised the importance of creative income generation through enterprise. The idea for Magpie Goose was born: an opportunity for the world to connect with and celebrate Aboriginal people, stories and culture through fashion; while also creating economic opportunities for Aboriginal people in remote communities.”
Co-Founder Laura has over 10 years of experience in working alongside communities and fostering engagement in grassroots enterprise in remote Australia. She is CEO and Founder of Enterprise Learning Projects, an incubator that works in partnership with remote Aboriginal communities to explore enterprise as a way to share cultural assets, and generate meaningful income.
Alongside their support for Aboriginal art centres, Magpie Goose also works with Aboriginal photographers and models, generating further economic opportunities for rural communities. Magpie Goose is also radically transparent and share exactly where your money for each garment goes, a practice I wish every company would make publicly visible.
Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill is a proud Nhunggabarra boy who never pictured himself as much of an artist. In fact, he had dreams of becoming a footballer. Around the same time he completed a Bachelor of Community and Social Development he visited his Grandfather, Tex Skuthorpe, in Alice Springs.
“His knowledge and deep respect for everything around him made me want to know more and carry on his knowledge. His influence, in combination with learning more at University inspired me to delve deeper into my culture. In 2018 my partner and I left our jobs to move closer to him and give it our full attention. He passed not long into our time living closer but I will continue to learn from family, his partner and the knowledge he left in his paintings, his book and our memories. There is so much lost but still so much to gain and a legacy I hope to pass onto my young daughter and the future generation. So I share this story because I cannot really explain my connection to art and inspiration without sharing that.”
“I hope to educate, continue to learn and challenge stereotypes through my work. I am slowly going through the traditional Nhunggabarra stories that we have and paint them. I use this knowledge to create contemporary Aboriginal art which is inspired by the land, our culture, communities and society… I love that art can resonate differently with each individual and that people are realising the importance of the knowledge held by the longest surviving culture on Earth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities have so much to offer and I hope that the future holds space for equality, self-determination and a deep respect for each other and the land.”
“This painting is very close to my heart and reflects a concept that I feel resonates with many First Nation people. Our identity is forever challenged, forever stereotyped and forever changing. We are questioned on ‘what part of you is Aboriginal, what percentage are you, your not that Aboriginal or your only half-caste.’ All of these statements are based on a lack of knowledge of our people, our history and our culture. So to answer I use a statement that is used by many First Nation people – ‘Aboriginality is like a cuppa tea, no matter how much milk you add it is still tea’. We are still here, we come in so many colours, from so many backgrounds and with so many stories.”