Culture is capital for young Indigenous entrepreneur

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Darkies Design creator Dion Devow named ACT Australian of the Year

(ABC Canberra: Mark Moore) ABC Radio Canberra

By

Michael Black

Posted

June 10, 2018 07:30:21

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Téa Devow is a young Indigenous girl breaking glass ceilings in business.
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(ABC Canberra: Michael Black) (Supplied: Téa&Belle)
There’s a broad market for the products which are designed to share Indigenous culture with non-Indigenous Australians and tourists.”Being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander means a lot to me and it’s really cool that I can embrace that,” Téa said.Sharing culture a family valueThe Devow family had always been close with Belle and her mother Sally.Belle’s non-Indigenous background wasn’t a barrier to friendship and she was drawn into learning more about Aboriginal history and culture.”I’m always included in all their family stuff which makes me happy,” she said. (ABC Canberra: Michael Black)
The spirit of reconciliationThis practice inspired one of the goals of the Téa&Belle enterprise: to educate customers about Aboriginal history.Both girls researched the products and included personal cards for customers which explain their significance.”It’s important to know where people have come from and what’s happened in the past,” Téa said.Some of the stories have been personal to the Devow family.Téa’s great-grandfather Hillary “Dib” Thomas was an Indigenous stockman in northern Queensland.The kangaroo leather collection was named after him and consisted of locally sourced handmade products. Téa Devow hasn’t even started high school and she already manages her own Indigenous clothing label and runs a successful YouTube channel.The 11-year-old based in Canberra partnered with her friend Belle Cooper to start the fledgling business selling Australian products with an Indigenous twist. Photo:
Téa&Belle showcases local Australian products and Indigenous designers. Photo:
Dion Devow has used his role as ACT Australian of the Year to benefit Indigenous businesses. Photo:
Belle Cooper finds embracing Indigenous culture isn’t about being black or white. (ABC Canberra: Mark Moore)
Both girls have kept in touch over video chat since the Coopers moved from Canberra to Sydney.The pair started a YouTube channel where they take turns reading books by Aboriginal authors.Téa said they reached out online so they could share Indigenous stories as well as raise awareness about the authors.”Once we’ve finished reading them we give them away to day cares and pre-schools.”

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Devow family business Darkie Designs made uniforms for Reconciliation Week matches. (ABC Canberra: Michael Black)
Téa always dreamed of taking over the business when she was older, but the dream arrived early with her own label.While Darkies Design was initially geared toward Indigenous people, Téa&Belle aimed to make the products accessible to everyone.”It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from,” Téa said.”We’re all human and we’re all Australian.”

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The girls hope to follow the success of strong Indigenous women, or “Tidda Queens”. (ABC Canberra: Michael Black)
Supported by strong role modelsFamily has always been important for both girls with their parents the driving force behind the Téa&Belle label.Téa’s father Dion Devow was chosen as the 2018 ACT Australian of the Year.He founded his clothing label Darkies Design as a way of showing pride in his Aboriginal culture and heritage.”For me, business is a way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get ahead,” he said.”It’s a way to change how non-Indigenous Australia see Aboriginal people.”

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Téa’s netball league brings people of all cultures together.
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‘If you need this, it’s yours’: 10yo boy’s idea to help Hobart’s homeless

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Donation points have been set up where second hand clothing can be dropped off. Photo:
Michael Henderson says those sleeping rough welcome anything to keep them warm. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but lately in Hobart it seems winter coats do. And there are many people out there that appreciate the fact that they can get something warm.”Even if it has been raining, and they find one that is wet, it doesn’t take much to take it here [to Bethlehem House] or to the Salvos to get it dried, and you’ve still got it.”Mr Henderson said the gesture is welcomed by those “out on the streets”.”If they can’t get a sleeping bag or a tent, a nice warm jacket or jumper is the next best thing,” he said.”Just having that warmth is highly appreciated by the guys living out on the streets.”

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Oliver and his mum Cathy know “it’s not always easy to ask for help”. Photo:
The idea was sparked by a homework challenge. Their goal is to distribute 100 coats in June.They hope the community will take up the Free On A Tree initiative and it will continue to grow. (Facebook: Free On A Tree)
A 10-year-old boy has come up with an innovative solution to the city’s homelessness issue, which has been compounded by a severe shortage of housing.The Free On A Tree initiative has been warmly welcomed by people who have experienced homelessness and charity organisations.Oliver Edwards said the idea was simple, sparked by the flooding which hit Hobart in May when the record for rainfall in a 24-hour period was doubled.He was given a homework challenge that asked him to come up with a way to help his community.”I heard about the floods and the people that were camping at the Showgrounds,” he said.”I thought of Free On A Tree and I talked with mum about it and she thought it was a good idea.”We put coats on trees and then people [who] need them and are cold can take them,” he said.He and his mother Cathy Edwards have set up donation points at various locations where people can drop their second-hand coats, and then they will be picked up and hung on trees in public spaces around the city.Once the coat has been strung up, Oliver puts a sticker on them that says: “If you need this, it’s yours”.”I hope that people [who] need the coats will take them,” he said. (ABC News)
Before arriving at Bethlehem House, Mr Henderson said he was sleeping in a tent which got shredded in the wind.”When you’re out on the streets and you’re homeless you really need something to keep you warm,” he said.”Especially coming into winter, Hobart gets so cold. “It’s not always easy to ask for help.”Initiative welcomed by homeless, charitiesMichael Henderson, who has been living at men’s shelter Bethlehem House for three months, has noticed the coats and thought it was a “wonderful idea”. (ABC News: Rhiannon Shine)
Bethlehem House chief executive Stephanie Kirkman Meikle was impressed by the initiative.”I love the idea that he’s thinking about the stigma that might surround people with homelessness and how difficult it can sometimes be to ask for help,” she said.”From that point of view he’s had a great idea.”I think he is a young community leader of the future, I think he has a big heart and has come up with an innovative solution.”St Vincent De Paul Society’s Pat Flanagan also backed the initiative, but reminded people not to forget about traditional donation points this winter.”I just found it very inspiring that someone could see this area, see people in need, and come up with a solution for it,” he said.”We’re always after good quality clothing and it has always been a principle of St Vincent de Paul Society that the best clothing should go to those in need.”Oliver and his mum have hung about 40 coats on trees around Hobart so far. (ABC News: Rhiannon Shine)
Ms Edwards said they checked the weather forecast and made sure rain was not expected before choosing a public place where the coats would stand out.”Just trying to really make it accessible and also to give people a little bit of privacy around taking a coat,” she said.
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By

Rhiannon Shine

Updated

June 10, 2018 15:50:15

Video: Oliver's brilliant idea to help Hobart's homeless

(ABC News)
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