It’s never been more important to support small business, and these Indigenous entrepreneurs, creators and business owners are among those leading the charge towards post-pandemic recovery.

Small business owners around the country are hurting. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic continue to keep us on a knife’s edge. But despite having every reason to throw in the towel, many of Australia’s SMEs have risen to the challenge, proving that entrepreneurship and tenacity runs deep in this country. These five Aboriginal-owned businesses around the country are superb examples, and should inspire all of us to carefully consider what, where and from whom we buy our products. 

Pawa Catering and Events

Based in West Footscray just outside Melbourne, Niyoka Bundle and her team provide tailored catering services for festivals and events around Victoria. She and her husband, Head Chef Vincent Manning, have created a bountiful menu offering everything from DIY pizza kits to Native Fusion grazing boxes. Indigenous ingredients enjoy the spotlight in everything from Native Riberry BBQ Meat Lover’s Pizza hits to grazing boxes spilling over with cured kangaroo pepperoni, cheeses infused with native herbs and handmade chutneys. 

Niyoka’s love of native ingredients extends to the art of gin making as well. Taka Gin co. aims to inspire its customers to experience a different taka – meaning ‘taste’ in the Gunditjmara language from South West Victoria – inspired by First Nations native botanicals.

Briar Blooms

Dominica Hill is the creative mind behind Briar Blooms, a 100% Aborignal-owned business based in Victoria’s Bass Coast region. A Palawa woman, Dominica started her business as a way to remember her daughter Briar who passed away before she could take her first breath. After receiving dozens of flower arrangements during this period, which sadly wilted away, she began creative everlasting flower arrangements, vibrant artworks and self-care items to bring joy to people going through a tough time. 

Her artworks, inspired by Indigenous stories and her own experiences, are available as high quality prints, as well as originals, to brighten up your walls. Dominica has fused her skills as a contemporary Aborignal artist and a former secondary school teacher to deliver workshops to students all over Victoria about the history of Aboriginal Art.

Aboriginal owned businesses
Tharla Marlpa First Aid Kit provided by Jade Pleiter’s company, Heart2Heart.

Panku Safety Solutions

At the helm of this rapidly growing organisation is Jadah Pleiter, a Palyku woman based in Melbourne’s South East. As well as being the CEO and Founder of First Aid company Heart2Heart Training and Supplies, her background in project management and experience working with Indigenous communities and local Government has led her to steer the ship for one of the country’s most respected suppliers of PPE and safety equipment. 

During the pandemic, her company rallied to provide masks, hand sanitizer, dispensers and other cleaning products to offer a level of safety and security during uncertain times. Panku has developed strong relationships with stakeholders and distribution partners all around the country, championing local brands and premium offerings alongside their own hero products. 

Panku invests in a range of social impact initiatives, including the Budadee Ranger Program which provides training and employment for remote communities across the Pilbara; and Tharla Marlpa which provides free first aid kits to remote Indigneous communities around Australia.

Amber Days

Corina Muir is the owner of ethical children’s wear label, Amber Days. An Aboriginal mother, artist, designer and nature protector, Corina’s range is inspired by the Australia bush, sea and desert. Shocked by the harmful chemicals that can be found in a lot of children’s clothing, 

Corina was determined to create her line from organic fabrics and use non toxic dyes and continues to seek out the highest quality materials on the market, prioritising services and products provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, refugee and migrant women. “Women are the leading forces behind healthy communities and society,” says Corina, a sentiment that she clearly lives by. Amber Days is continually improving their processes to reduce environmental impact and support women and slow fashion.

Collaborating with Indigenous artists, Corina’s range of children’s wear is bright, colourful, fun and super comfy. From flowy linen dresses to cart-wheel-approved overalls, kids will love slipping into their Amber Days outfits everyday.

Clothing The Gaps

A play on words from the Government initiative to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, Clothing The Gaps is both a dynamic fashion label and social enterprise. Co-founded by Laura Thompson, a Gunditjmara woman, and Sarah Sheridan, the label is managed by a team of health professionals who use business as a vehicle to support and help fund the impactful work of the Clothing The Gaps Foundation.

Aboriginal-led and majority Aboriginal owned, the label encourages consumers to “wear their values on their tee” and promote conversations around Indigenous issues. “Always Was, Always Will Be” appears across many of the most popular designs, as well as this year’s NAIDOC Week theme, Heal Country – a call for all Australians to “seek greater protections for our lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage.”

This article was written on Darkinjung Land. Lead image courtesy of Pawa Catering.