Add To Cart Episode 339 - How Kirrikin Tell Indigenous Stories Through Fashion

Add To Cart Episode 339 - How Kirrikin Tell Indigenous Stories Through Fashion

Thu Mar 07 2024 by Lauren Davidson

Amanda Explores Art, Fashion, and Indigenous Storytelling on the Global Stage

Amanda, a proud member of the Wonnarua nation, traditional owners of the Hunter Valley in NSW, has deep connections across Indigenous communities throughout Australia. With over 35 years of experience in the mining industry across Australia, Africa, and Canada, Amanda has established her own engineering businesses in the Pilbara and Cape York, supporting Aboriginal entrepreneurship. In late 2014, she founded Kirrikin, a social enterprise that shares profits with artists, aiming to address the shortage of authentic Indigenous products. Kirrikin specializes in digitally printing stunning Aboriginal artwork onto luxurious cashmeres and silks, creating exquisite scarves and ties. With its exceptional products, Kirrikin has rapidly gained an international reputation and is particularly popular in the USA and Europe, as well as in Australia.

In this captivating episode of Add To Cart, we're delighted to welcome Amanda Healy, the visionary Founder and Managing Director of Kirrikin.

Amanda Healy, a proud Koori woman, brings over 30 years of mining industry experience to her role. Fueled by a desire to address the dearth of authentic Indigenous products, she boldly launched Kirrikin in 2014. This luxury fashion label not only showcases Indigenous art but also empowers customers to directly support the artists behind the designs. In a remarkable stride, Kirrikin graced the runway at Australian Fashion Week in 2021, marking its entry into the US and European markets. Amanda's narrative is as rich as the fabrics she works with, weaving tales of Australian culture into every design. Our conversation delves into her perspectives on the Voice, its potential impact on the Indigenous community, and the challenges she has faced as a pioneering First Nations entrepreneur.

“They’re hungry for our stories, they wanna know who we are”

Social return to community

"I describe Kirikin as a social enterprise and my elevator pitch is we print gorgeous, authentic Aboriginal art onto luxury fabrics and turn them into clothing and accessories. But the work that we do really, the thing that inspires me most and what gets me out of bed in the morning, of course, is the social return to the community.

The artists get payment every quarter. We help out single mums. We are currently running training programs to help Aboriginal women succeed in their life, but also to understand the basics of business and commerce and to actually develop their skills in that space. So that to me is probably way more important than the actual product itself, even though I have to say they’re very beautiful."

Recognition

“I think we’re the only formally colonised country in the old British Empire, that doesn’t have a treaty. There’s been treaties in the United States since the 1920s, in Canada, since the 1940s or something like that. They have a really well-developed system of consultation with their indigenous people. It doesn’t exist here in Australia. New Zealand have their Waitangi agreement.

That’s all existed everywhere else. They have rights. They’re recognised as the traditional owners of those countries. We aren’t yet. We still don’t have any recognition at all in that area. So I think the initial step of a vote of yes has to make a step change for us, because all of a sudden we’ll be seen as actually the people that have been here for 50 or 60,000 years.”

Europe is hungry for our stories

“We were able to take a cultural dance, a couple of models, a backstage person, a whole Indigenous team, which is probably about the first time that would have ever happened anywhere. We went over (to Brussels) and put on a fabulous show in this amazing art and history museum. It was a really fabulous exercise for us because the things that came from it were after the show, everybody in the audience, and there was an audience of probably about 80 people, from the United Nations, from the EU, from NATO and from the local fashion community.

And they were pulling us up afterwards and saying, that was the best show I’ve ever seen. How amazing was that? And a number of people said, we have never seen anything as good as that before. But what was really, really special about it is our young models, for the first time for many of them, they were treated with real interest and respect.

It opened my eyes to the notion that actually there’s a really decent market in Europe. They’re hungry for our stories. They wanna know who we are. And it’s a platform for us to educate and inform about Aboriginal Australia that we’re still here, we’re still doing, we’re still making, and we’re still growing.”

Jo Anne Hui Miller

Hosted by Jo Anne Hui Miller

Other Articles

Fashion Adventures: Our Journey to Dubai and Cairo

Fashion Adventures: Our Journey to Dubai and Cairo

Mar 24, 2024 Lauren Davidson

We're excited to share our report on our recent trips to Dubai and Cairo, thanks to the grant from [Grant Provider]. In Dubai, we networked at the Arab Fashion Council's Showroom event. In Cairo, we showcased our designs at a runway event by the Fashion Business School. These experiences were invaluable, offering us exposure, networking, and professional growth opportunities in the global fashion scene.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Economic Cooperation: The Invest and Trade Western Australia Americas Hub Launch at Australia House

Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Economic Cooperation: The Invest and Trade Western Australia Americas Hub Launch at Australia House

Mar 17, 2024 Lauren Davidson

The Invest and Trade Western Australia Americas Hub launch at Australia House during SXSW celebrated cultural exchange and economic collaboration. The event featured distinguished guests and showcased Australian talent, including Kirrikin Australia and performances by Bart Pigram, Inkabee, and Flewnt. Congratulations to Minister Stephen Dawson, Natasha Monks, Simone Spencer, and the teams for this successful launch, emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity and cooperation.