Today we are introducing you to Marilyn who makes and sells creams with ancient Australian plants and gives hands on healing in Alice Springs.
Marilyn’s small business, Aneme Ware, which means Just Be, has been operating for a year. In addition to using her gift of working with bush medicine and doing healing work, Marilyn recently secured a contract with the Alice Springs Town Council to lead Indigenous cultural awareness induction training to new staff members.
“Since Tiani [Many Rivers Microenterprise Development Manager] has come on board, it has really given us focus; everything we have been doing the last few years has been brought all together.”
The business is workshops and circles promoting the ancient bush medicine plants, which is core. At the centre are our workshops and I use that methodology for cultural awareness workshops and Welcome to Country/s in Alice Springs. I also make creams with the ancient plants and I do hands on healing. So I listen to a person’s story and feel it and help them to walk their journey. People who gravitate to this work are on spirit journeys and people like myself have been placed in front of them.
Most recently I have been making children’s videos during Covid-19, in the library. I got a team and came up with the idea of making videos. We created two characters called Kul Aray (which means Ok Look) and Kul Away (which means Ok Listen). So we have a character with a big ear on their head and a character with a big eye on their head and I am in the middle with a guitar and we sing in language. We have uploaded eight to YouTube. And we also made a resource booklet for teachers, which is free, and we’ve let all the schools know that it will available soon (in August) and we will look to make more.
Before Many Rivers
Before I made contact with Many Rivers, I was doing a whole range of things. Basically I have been involved in education and community development mostly. I have a diploma for teaching in early childhood (hence the children’s videos) back in the 1980’s. I also spent some time out bush on an outstation getting some housing and programs happening for sustainable lifestyles. In that time, the ancestors and spirits of that country that work with you gifted myself and my partner the gift of working with bush medicine and doing healing work. Both our daughters are also ngnankere (healers). So our life revolves around healing now.
Together with Many Rivers
I got the book keeping kit. I got great mentorship – I like the efficiency, the “let’s get on to it now”, and once something is done, it feels so good. Tiani keeps me on task. Many Rivers is really an action-oriented service, and I feel there is a genuine commitment to my business. After the first meeting, I was a bit dubious but then I felt the energy was right and Tiani just got it. She felt it, and there was no judgement on her part or my part; we both got it.
There are blockages everywhere when you are starting a business, but Tiani is constantly reminding me about what to do. She gives me constant support and clear action steps and she genuinely wants me to succeed.
Biggest Change Since Starting A Small Business
The biggest change has been that I feel that I have freedom to move, freedom to come to Darwin and do workshops. Freedom to open up and dream big and grow the whole idea of what we are on about. I have more time with family and time to get them to engage. It is also more time away from the politics that there is in organisations. Now there is freedom to be yourself and to really grow strong in yourself into who you are meant to be! Because you don’t have these organisations dictating who you are meant to be.
The biggest success has been negotiating with the Alice Springs Town Council to roll out cultural awareness through their Reconciliation Action Plan. I got that contract which was a big success. I started working with them in October last year. They had lost all confidence in cultural awareness training. So, I drew up a huge schedule for 200 staff, and I went back and forth with them and we locked in an orientation for new staff being inducted. We are yet to lock in orientation with old staff and a one-day immersion, which is still being considered by the council.
The biggest challenge is not having any money, the financial side. I locked in five workshops before Corona virus, but the virus stifled a lot of movement and being able to do my marketing. That has been a challenge.
I hope to be able to network with as many people as possible who are like-minded to do the same and to have my family employed so that this is a sustainable business. I hope to work out real ways to sustain this business so that my kids can feel that same way about being independent and being who they are.
Thank you Marilyn for sharing your journey with us. There are many other people out there looking to take the next step of setting up their own business and we know your story will inspire them to take the leap.
If you have a business idea, please take the Small Business Self Assessment and see if Many Rivers is right for you.