The following Victorian Aboriginal business owners and employees from across the state have received support through Victorian Government initiatives and programs:
Clothing the Gap
Cultural clothing brand Clothing the Gap remind us that, 'You don't have to have all the answers at once [when you start a business]. Once you start moving through the business you'll find the answers.'
[Laura:] Community's changing and fashion's changing so if you can wear an item of fashion that's actually making a social impact, why wouldn't you choose those brands?
I'm Laura Thompson, I'm a Gunditjmara woman.
[Sarah:] And my name is Sarah Sheridan.
[Laura:] And we're from Clothing the Gap. We produce Aboriginal-designed merchandise. We're a small start-up but we're completely committed to the cause.
We spent a lot of time thinking about what we should call this business and we've gone through a lot of names in order to try and tell and express to non-Aboriginal people that we want you to wear our stuff. And when we came up with Clothing the Gap, it resonated with people that was one way that they can engage.
[Sarah:] And as a non-Aboriginal person, I think it's really exciting to be able to produce a piece of clothing and fashion that everybody can celebrate.
[Laura:] Our typical customer now is any Australian who wants to make a decision that, when they purchase something, they're actually making a difference and contributing to closing the gap. We've had lots of experience producing merchandise.
We love seeing Aboriginal design out in community. That makes us feel good, it promotes reconciliation and in some small way all of us can be part of celebrating Aboriginal culture.
We make the most of every day in the office and the most of every opportunity. If anyone rings our doorbell downstairs—
[Sarah:] They're coming up for a cuppa. No two days are the same. There's so much to learn!
[Sarah:] We're doing the HR, we're sorting out accounting, we're making sure that, you know, we're planning for the future as well.
[Laura:] Our succession plan is that closing the gap will be able to support the work we do at Spark Health in delivering health promotion and prevention programs to aboriginal communities all over Victoria.
[Sarah:] We absolutely love social media so social media is something that we spend a lot of time thinking about and doing as well, so it's a genuine tool and a resource for us in communicating and getting our messages out as well.
[Laura:] My cultural heritage impacts me every day at work and I'm lucky that through Clothing the Gap, I'm able to create pieces of art or clothes where people are able to express their identity and culture through their garments and fashion.
It comes quite natural for us to be able to support Aboriginal businesses and business people. Where possible we're always looking to employ Aboriginal people to support the work we do.
[Sarah:] There's nothing better than being able to cheer on other Aboriginal people as well. It's just awesome to see everybody kicking massive goals in your space.
[Laura:] You don't have to have all the answers at once. Once you start moving through the business, you'll find the answers and that shouldn't be the reason why you don't move into that space.
[Sarah:] Yeah and when it gets hard, just focus on that end goal, know why you're in it. So for us it's the difference that we're making in community every day that keeps us going.
[Laura:] Clothing the Gap is one way that we can make sure that we're around here to keep adding years to people's lives into the future.
[Text on screen:] Get behind Clothing the Gap. You can support us www.clothingthegap.com.au
Find out more about Tharamba Bugheen, Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy
Ngarga Warendj – Dancing Wombat
Mick from Ngarga Warendj - Dancing Wombat keeps it real! His advice to other businesses is ’when you spend an hour doing something in your business try and make sure you can make that hour work for you over and over again'
Entrepreneur is a fancy word I reckon for people taking risks. You get better at taking more qualified risk as you go.
My name is Mick Harding. I'm a Taungurung man. My business is called Ngarga Warendj, Dancing Wombat. I'm predominately an Indigenous artist.
I mainly make artifacts, I draw, I sculpt, I do commission pieces and I've been in business since 2005. I worked in cultural heritage, in Aboriginal cultural heritage for about 15 years as I had seen huge amounts of our cultural heritage in the landscape and I noticed that the art that was being produced was very much dot work and not a lot of symbolism that you would see from those places that I'd seen. And I had this urge, a passion, to make really good quality stuff and make a statement.
I was a sole trader and my wife and I have just become a partnership. She does all the marketing, does all the social media. That allows me to do the creative stuff so we're pretty a pretty good team.
One of my greatest supporters has been the Koorie Heritage Trust. They've supported me since the beginning. But then I get things like the local school Kurnai College and I have relationships with different groups like that just keep coming back to me.
Probably, at least the first five years, I'd have really quiet periods where I wasn't making any money. So anything you do, what you need to try and think about, is when you spend an hour doing something, how you can make that work for you over and over. You know, keep making sales out of that hour's work. So, we've applied some of those types of thinking towards the stuff that we do and that seems to be working a hell of a lot better these days.
What success means to me. Firstly, creating quality that reflect who we are. Often when we do markets and things like I'll just sit there and do live burning so they can see what they're getting right there and then.
Both my two sons, they've been helping me from time to time. I've encouraged them as much as they want. You know if they want to do it, we'll build a business that's good enough and then we've got a dynasty. You know I might slow down a bit but I'll keep doing it for as long as I'm alive. I keep getting bigger opportunities so maybe I'm, maybe I'm good at what I do. [Music]
Matthew Karakoulakis is a passionate owner who strives for a relationship driven, culture-based law firm that supports businesses to grow. The mission at AMK Law is to empower clients to achieve great results with high level of quality and cost effective legal services. Together with building lasting client relationships and delivering excellent legal services, they aspire to be by your side as trusted advisors. Matthew’s advice to businesses is to 'Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and make it happen!'
I had a real passion in my heart to make sure that there was a real delivery for what clients needed.
Hi, I'm Matthew Karakoulakis, founder of AMK Law. We've been operating since 2014.
Internally I had a vision that I could create a law firm where legal services were delivered on a real relationship-focused basis, where clients' individual needs were really being met. I started working at major Australian law firms and that experience helped guide me and give me the vision of my business creation.
The other focus that has motivated me to succeed is making sure that I can do the best I possibly can in terms of inspiring other Indigenous lawyers and Indigenous business owners.
The typical clients at AMK Law are business owners. Whether it be in the start-up phase of their business or whether the business has been operating for many years.
A typical day at work for me involves starting the day early. Then I'll go into the office and write down my goals. Getting that done first helps set up the rest of the day. I believe in having timetables, lists and rituals to make sure that goals are achieved. I think having a succession plan is really, really important.
My cultural background brings a lot into the work that we do at AMK Law. As an Aboriginal man, I have a strong understanding of cultural diversity. One of the metaphors that means a lot to me is that of storytelling. Storytelling being a cultural gesture and meaningful approach that traditional Indigenous communities have, often being about motivation, inspiration, insight, vision, all of those principles which are fundamentally important to business.
We can then speak with our clients, relate with our clients and understand what are the deep motivations behind what our clients are trying to achieve.
As a dream, would be so awesome to have other Indigenous lawyers come up through the firm. I want to have a team of excellent lawyers to develop their own skill set and I'm leading them and inspiring them. That would be something that is an excellent achievement.
I think it's really important to believe in your own resourcefulness and to be proud of where you've come from. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and make it happen.
[Text on screen:] Find out more about Tharamba Bugheen, Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy
Street Feast is an Indigenous owned and operated business, with Dale being a proud Monero Ngarigo man from Orbost in East Gippsland. Street Feast is THE original 'Low and Slow' Street Food Vendor in Melbourne and it is the work of husband and wife team, Dale and Jenni, based in Campbellfield, Melbourne. They have over 30 years combined experience in the hospitality industry from cooking and creating, to front of house management and exceptional customer service.
[Dale:] If you're following on your heart and your passion and you're really giving it a red-hot go, you're going to achieve something at the end of the day.
The name of our business is Street Feast. We specialize in slow-cooked food, slow cooked food served fast. We came up with the idea and the concept through the slow-cooked meats, being a chef myself for eighteen years. The idea was to sell as much food as we could and get our product out there. The farmer's markets is a good place to start.
I had a good career I was enjoying being a chef for a long time and I suppose I just wanted to do my own thing, and Jenny's support in helping me get through that, and the things we've learnt along the way. It hasn't been easy but it's been well worth it.
[Jenni:] I'm the one that holds the reins back does all the paperwork and things by the book. It's good fun.
[Dale:] The Street Feast cultural heritage is Monero Ngarigo. Far east gippsland is where my father's from and the cultural impact that that's had with our business has been really strong. Growing up with dad, he's always liked his meat slow-cooked and well done. It's good to have dad and my Uncle Tony they built the first food trailer for us. They did a good job building that person that was a good support as well.
The idea was to start cooking our slow-cooked meats and then selling it to the public and to the music festivals and rock concerts and weddings.
[Jenni:] And then we recently started wholesale, which is where you predominately look after.
[Dale:] The wholesale was created through a few restaurants and pubs that were a bit interested in the slow-cooked meats, which is now in the industry a lot.
The slow-cooked beef brisket and the pulled pork is one of the biggest sales that we have have. We've got slow-cooked ribs and buffalo wings and we do a lot of different stuff.
[Jenni:] When you're a business owner, you're a problem solver. You become an accountant, you become a bookkeeper, you become a cleaner. You do everything.
[Dale:] Family's been a real good support with the business. Mum and Dad have been a great support and having that support through IBA, Indigenous businesses Australia, has been really good as well.
[Jenni:] I think the dream job is the restaurant, to have our own venue.
[Dale:] Maybe one in every state. [laughs]
Go in there with a passion and you can follow your heart. [Music]
[Text on screen:] Find out more about Tharamba Bugheen, Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy