NAIDOC Week is here and to celebrate, we’re showcasing some amazing Indigenous-owned businesses. Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal businesses are innovative, creative, community-oriented and beyond driven – becoming one of the fastest growing business sectors in Australia. Read the inspiring stories of these business owners below and support Indigenous-owned businesses today and every day. #NAIDOC2022 #indigenousbusiness
Clara Trindall, Emily Frew & Sharon Robbie
100% Indigenous-owned and operated Krubi Creative was founded by sisters Clara, Emily and Sharon. The three sisters started painting to share their culture and as a form of expression and have now established a thriving business with a 13k-strong following on Instagram.
“We create Indigenous artworks that reflect and preserve our culture and traditional Gundungurra songlines.” Their collection of fine art prints has expanded to include other mediums, like stone, wood and even skateboard decks.
What’s been one of your proudest accomplishments since you started your business? The three of us prior to this were all working as registered nurses, with no formal business experience, so starting a successful independent business is a huge accomplishment for us. We have some larger murals which have been incredibly rewarding for us – they stand on buildings with positive influences in the community and reside on our traditional Gundangurra land in the Blue Mountains.
We’ve also been overwhelmed with the growth we’ve had on Instagram. As young Indigenous artists, it is hard to balance traditional culture and modern society. Our Nana Clare taught us to be resilient and learn new ways to exist as a people.
What role does community play in your work? Everything! We built this business to provide cultural connections that could be extended out to our greater community. We feel it’s so important to engage and uplift each other. The power of community coming together, is more important now than ever.
What does NAIDOC Week mean to you? NAIDOC has always been a really exciting time growing up. It’s a time we get to meet up with family and celebrate our culture. As we’ve gotten older, NAIDOC Week has certainly taken on a deeper meaning, something that reconnects our people to each other and the broader community. It’s a time to uplift and make known first nations people.
What are some of your favourite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander businesses to support? We absolutely love Indigenous Wiradjuri artist Brandi Salmon’s work; there’s such strength evoked through her artwork with powerful themes of empowering women. We also really admire Jarin Baigent, a strong Wiradjuri woman. She founded the Trading Blak platform and also created the brand Jarrin Street. Her accomplishments are so inspiring, she has incredible drive and passion to uplift Indigenous-owned businesses.
Why is it important to support & shop for Indigenous-owned businesses during NAIDOC Week and beyond? A lot of Indigenous people have broken through huge boundaries to accomplish their dreams of running businesses. By supporting Indigenous-owned businesses, you help Indigenous people create strong communities that can flourish and thrive. This also helps create employment opportunities and opens avenues to strengthen and support Indigenous culture.
“There is something really special about creating together. We love being able to uplift and inspire others and give opportunities for others to learn about our heritage.”
Clinton and Lozen Schultz
Founded by husband-and-wife team Clinton and Lozen Schultz, Sobah is Australia’s first-to-market non-alcoholic craft beer company. “We started making Sobah in 2016 for ourselves, we wanted to create a fresh, crisp drink that could be enjoyed without the headache”. In addition to creating delicious non-alcoholic drinks, as a proud First Nations business, Sobah is all about giving back to the community too – “We launched Sobah with positive reciprocity at the core – we have a responsibility to create opportunities for others, to encourage sustainable and healthy ways of living, to raise positive awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and smash stereotypes.”
What’s been one of your proudest accomplishments since you started your business? We pioneered this space and leading the market has been a great accomplishment. Over the past 5 years, we’ve helped support local charities and we’ve partnered with Half Cut Org to help save unprotected areas of the Daintree Rainforest. Being able to give back is something we’re proud of.
What does NAIDOC Week mean to you? NAIDOC Week is a time to reflect, celebrate and embrace First Nations culture, knowledge and experiences. Unfortunately, it has become a week where many First Nations people end up working 24/7 and don’t really get the opportunity to take it in and enjoy it with family and community.
What are some of your favourite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander businesses to support? It’s the un-sung community champions that really inspire us. Those that work tirelessly to help improve circumstances and outcomes for our mobs but who don’t ever ask for recognition. People like Preston Campbell and Kyel Dancey from the Preston Campbell Foundation, Buddi Hippi from Winangali Infusion, Birrunga Wiradyuri from the Birrunga Gallery and Wayne Weaver Foundation, and Norm Bartie from iLH-Australia Indigenous Civil.
Why is it important to support & shop Indigenous-owned businesses during NAIDOC Week and beyond? There has never been equity in colonised Australia and this has led to many of our First Nations peoples being left well behind the starting line. Supporting and buying ‘Blak’ is an easy everyday choice that Australians can make to help challenge issues created from our colonised past and play a part in helping create more equity for First Nations peoples in Australia.
If you could give a new business owner any advice, what would it be? Our advice is to do what our peoples have always done. Dream your future into reality and shape it the way you want it to be. It won’t come easy and it requires continuous energetic input; it may not even be successful in the way that you thought it should be – but you can make your business dreams become a reality.
“Supporting and buying ‘Blak’ is an easy everyday choice that Australians can make to help challenge issues created from our colonised past and play part in helping create more equity for First Nations peoples.”
What is NAIDOC Week? NAIDOC Week is a national celebration which recognises the history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. The event was established by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NADOC) in the 1950s as “National Aboriginal Day”. Between then and the 1990s, the celebration expanded to a full week of festivities and included the recognition of the Torres Strait Islander people and culture, becoming – NAIDOC.
Why is NAIDOC Week important? NAIDOC Week is important for so many reasons. It’s a chance for all Australians to celebrate and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and fight for the systemic change needed to close the gap of inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
How many Indigenous businesses are there in Australia? According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 2019 around 12,000-16,000 Australian businesses are Indigenous-owned and rates suggest this number will grow by around 2,200 by 2026. Despite this growth, there’s still a significant gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous owned businesses. A study by Supply Nation found that while Indigenous people make up 3% of the total Australian population, they represent just 0.5% of total business owners in Australia. You can search for Aboriginal-owned businesses or learn how to register as an Aboriginal business through resources like Supply Nation, ORIC and the IBA, as well as through your local chamber of commerce.