Today we are introducing you to Andrew, owner of Ngiilay Gift Boxes, a business that sells Indigenous Gift Boxes on the South Coast of NSW.
Ngiilay Gift Boxes are the perfect personal or corporate gift box, including an assortment of beautiful items made from and designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia from Wiradjuri to Guringai, Yuggera to Naarm and places in between. ‘Ngiilay’ in Yuwaalaraay means “from here” which resembles the items in their gift boxes and promotes products made “from here”.
The idea for Ngiilay Gift Boxes came about when Andrew and his wife could not find gift hampers that included a range of Indigenous products to gift to their family. After launching the business in June 2022, they have been pleasantly surprised by the power of social media and the support from the blak business network. In future, Ngiilay Gift Boxes hopes to become the supplier of choice for corporate gift boxes.
“Many Rivers helped us with our initial capital, but the regular check-ins and the business support that Shelley provided has been great. She helped us to develop a business plan and then referred and guided us in what to look for in a website. Shelley has opened up a business network and networking opportunities with a couple of contacts within the NIAA. It’s given us the opportunity to grow our business, pushing our message through a variety of networks.”
Read more about Andrew’s business journey so far.
Meet Andrew, owner of Ngiilay Gift Boxes
Our business is Ngiilay Gift Boxes, specially curated gift boxes that include an assortment of beautiful items made from and designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
We launched in June 2022, but the concept of the business has been about 12 months in the making. My wife and I were looking for gift ideas and wanted to send hampers to family and friends that included and promoted Aboriginal products. We searched and couldn’t find a business where you could buy an assortment of products in one place – they only had their own products. We ended up purchasing 4-5 different items from different businesses and created the hampers ourselves – and that’s how the business concept of Ngiilay Gift Boxes came about.
We were (and still are) doing our normal 9am-5pm jobs, Ngiilay Gift Boxes is our 5pm-12am job! We had the business idea, but we didn’t have the capital to just go out and get stuff. We didn’t have knowledge of business support services available, but we knew that we had to either approach a bank or look at different funding opportunities. So we did some desktop research and came across Many Rivers on Google.
We discovered that there was a gap in the market for gift boxes that included a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander–made products. The market is currently flooded with corporate gift ideas and gift hampers. There are none that specifically include Aboriginal art and or products.
Working with Many Rivers
Many Rivers helped us with our initial capital, but the regular check–ins and the business support that Shelley provided has been great. She helped us to develop a business plan and then referred and guided us in what to look for in a website. Shelley has opened up a business network and networking opportunities with a couple of contacts within the NIAA. It’s given us the opportunity to grow our business, pushing our message through a variety of networks.
The networking has been great, and just the little comments reassuring us that we are on the right track. You always have a lot of self-doubt when you are starting a business, so confirming you are on the right track is helpful.
We did receive a loan from Many Rivers. A little bit of it went to stock, but a large portion (approx. 60%) went towards the website, professional photography and general marketing. We were lucky to have a Koori business that helped us to develop our logo and design our website.
The biggest challenge has been the accounting side – just keeping on top of your books is important. It’s currently my wife and I working out of our shed.
The presence of social media is very powerful. We received a big order from a large Aboriginal organisation that found us on social media. I think we exchanged around three emails before they submitted the order, and we couldn’t believe that came from our social media presence!
The biggest change is that we are starting to become more aware of other blak businesses and as we support them, we have become part of a little ecosystem. We want to support as many blak businesses as we can. Where we’d normally buy, say a tea towel from David Jones and send to our family, we now research to see how we can support another Aboriginal business instead.
We’d like to become the supplier of choice when it comes to gift boxes or corporate gifts. We have a little niche market, and we’d like to grow our range of options and products in the future.
Thanks for sharing your business journey with us Andrew. For those that would like to find out more about Ngiilay Gift Boxes, please check out their website and social media below:
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