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Spotlight on Indigenous entrepreneur at Awards

[by Anita Duffin]


Last week, Cairns-based Gunggari woman, Charmaine Saunders won the inaugural First Nations category at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards 2023.


Queensland is the first and only state to introduce a First Nations Category in the Australian Export awards.  


Charmaine’s story is inspiring. She is a First Nations founder, owner and operator of fashion business, Mainie, which specialises in distinctively handcrafted scarves, kaftans, art and décor. For Charmaine, it’s not just about crating beautiful garments, it’s about storytelling.


Her clients are stylish and affluent people who appreciate luxury and are conscious of the stories behind their purchases.

Originally from Southwest Queensland’s Maranoa River Region, and now based in Cairns, Charmaine founded her fashion business ‘Mainie’, in 2012.  


Like so many businesses, Charmaine pivoted to e-Commerce in the wake of COVID-19 to counteract the loss of wholesale and retail sales. Since then, there’s been no looking back, as her business has gone global.


Mainie currently sells to customers in Australia and around the world through Shopify and Amazon USA. Both platforms have had a positive return on investment and the company is looking to expand its online presence in Asia and Europe next year. 


Mainie is 100 per cent committed to authenticity and sustainability. This is at the core of their business. Each design and artwork is sourced directly from traditional Aboriginal women artists, who paint stories from the world’s oldest continuing culture.  


Mainie ensures that every design is ethically acquired and reproduced under licence, strictly adhering to the Indigenous Art Code. Mainie was also the official provider of Indigenous fashion and apparel to the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and has supplied stock to the National Gallery of Singapore.  



Powerful documentary Audrey Napanangka to premiere on NITV [by Hannah Lambert] Filmed over 10 years, the program tells the story of Warlpiri matriarch, artist and actor Audrey and her Sicilian partner Santo as they navigate through colonial systems to keep the children they care for together in the Central Australian Desert.


Queensland government releases new strategy to preserve state's Indigenous languages [Jack McKay, ABC] Queensland community groups and organisations will be given hundreds of thousands of dollars in new grants to help preserve and revitalise First Nations languages across the state.


Homebuyers at Aboriginal burial site at Riverlea project should be granted refunds, advocates says [ABC] Kaurna community members opposed to the way in which Aboriginal ancestral remains are being handled at a government-backed housing project in Adelaide's north have called on the developer to grant refunds to homebuyers.

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