Could you describe the Koorie Circle?
The Koorie Circle is a small Aboriginal owned and led family business that has developed from a desire to create earrings that tell a story and celebrate the culture, history, and identity of Aboriginal Australia. Each earring tells a different story and is made to be worn with pride by everyone, not just Aboriginal people.
What makes the Koorie Circle special?
The Koorie Circle values are culture, power and sisterhood and we promote our earrings to Aboriginal people (mob) and all our deadly allies. All our earrings are made in Australia and come packed in a reusable tin. We believe you can never have too many earrings!
I love that you celebrate Culture, Power and Sisterhood in your work - how are some of the ways this message is translated into your designs?
Our designs aim to celebrate culture and empower women and we have a created a sisterhood of people that love The Koorie Circle earrings. When reaching for your earrings consider not only what looks good with your outfit but also your mood. One of our favourite pairs is the Bunjil earrings and when we are feeling anxious or nervous, we pop some Bunjils (the Kulin Nation creator spirit) in our ears and instantly feel more connected and calm.
Is it ok for allys to wear your designs?
Absolutely. All of our earrings are designed for everybody to wear and look amazing in! We create our earrings with our mob in our heart and everyone in our mind. We love nothing more for all women to rock our earrings. All of our products are ally friendly. Purchasing and wearing Aboriginal merchandise such as earrings from an Aboriginal business is a really practical way allies can support our mob.
I understand you are no longer able to use the Aboriginal flag in your designs, could you give us some insight into the Free the Flag movement?
The Koorie Circle received a cease and desist notice from Gifts Mate to stop selling our Aboriginal Flag pins because "any use of the Aboriginal Flags on badges or pins without consent of agreement is prohibited".
Gifts Mate is owned by Ben Wooster. The same man who owned Birubi Arts and was fined $2.3 million dollars for importing fake Aboriginal art from Indonesia. Ben Wooster is also the part owner of WAM Clothing and has the exclusive worldwide rights to produce the Aboriginal Flag on clothing as well.
We are supporting the movement to #FreeTheFlag and to stop non-Indigenous people and companies profiting of our love of the Aboriginal flag. The Aboriginal Flag is the only proclaimed national flag in the world in with a copyright. We encourage all readers to sign up to the #FreeTheFlag campaign via www.change.org/pridenotprofit or pop over to www.clothingthegap.com.au/pages/free-the-flag to learn more.
Could you introduce us to your team? It’s a family affair right?
The Koorie Circle is a proud Aboriginal family business that was founded by Laura Thompson, a Gunditjmara woman.
More recently, Laura’s daughter Rose, who it about to turn sixteen has taken a more hands on role at The Koorie Circle. Due to COVID19, Rose has been at home with lots of spare time and started helping out mum by working in The Koorie Circle. Rose started off packing orders, then progressed to answering emails and is now designing earrings. She has recently released her first design – The Warma Turtle studs. It is fair to say Rose has pretty much taken over and her brothers were sacked in week one, under her supervision!
The Koorie Circle values are culture, power and sisterhood.
What did your business look like before COVID 19 and how has that changed?
Before COVID19 The Koorie Circle had a strong and loyal sisterhood. However, during COVID19 Rose has increased our social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and revamped our regular e-newsletter. We have also released our limited edition Koorie Circle tins which have been a huge hit as well as our cute Warma Turtle studs.
How do you see your business evolving in the future? Are there changes you've made that you will continue with when things go back to 'normal'?
We will continue to maintain our online presence however, we will look to re-engage with our retailers that buy our earrings wholesale and then sell them in their store. Mim Found Ena on High Street, Northcote is one of our first and favourite stockists!
Have you collaborated with any other local businesses?
We designed a pair of Gratitude earrings for Jirra from Kalinya Communications.
The designs on the earrings show the connection and sharing between people and Communities. 'Sharing and Caring' is part of the Aboriginal culture so there was no need for words like "thank you" or "please" in Aboriginal languages.
The Gratitude earrings pay homage to this sentiment acknowledging that gratitude is something that is felt rather than said.
What are your biggest challenges/areas you would most appreciate help with as a small business owner?
As a small business up scaling is definitely a challenge. We would love the opportunity to be able to increase the volume and see more women wearing our earrings. We want our earrings to be conversation starters, connecting women to celebrate and talk about Aboriginal culture through our earrings.