Today we are introducing you to Nazareth from Coconut Island in The Torres Strait who collects natural materials from her local beaches to create jewellery and other handcrafts.
A few years ago, Nazareth recognised that she had a passion to become a small business owner and the skills for making arts and crafts out of all sorts of objects that get washed up on the beaches of Coconut Island. With support from her Many Rivers business coach Rita, Nazareth has learnt about managing her business finances and how to keep business records.
“Many Rivers starts at a grassroot level and supports the people through the small, everyday steps of the journey. As an Indigenous person, especially on an island, we don’t realise the potential that we can tap into. We sometimes look down on ourselves but there is opportunity out there. Many Rivers and Rita showed me that there is a journey I can take to go into business.”
Nazareth would love to help other Indigenous people realise their dreams and make them a reality. She is excited to learn new crafts and get more training so that she can take her business to the next level.
Read more about Nazareth’s journey with her arts and craft small business so far.
I started an arts and craft small business called Malu Kapu. Most of my mediums are shells and seeds that I use for beading and weaving. I experiment with different products and make different types of jewellery and other handcrafts such as coasters for tables.
I live on Coconut Island which is the central island of the Torres Strait and the language is Poruma. I find most of the materials I use to make my crafts at the beach such as shells, seaweed seeds, forgotten thongs, and ghost nets! Recently I started collecting ghost nets which are nets fishermen have left in the sea. I make necklaces out of these. So I use natural products that I can collect around the island and then I sell the products online to Gab Titui.
At the moment I am doing a Cert III at TAFE to improve my painting and textile work. My real aim is to create my own design, get it printed onto fabric and to create my own skirt. This is my vision. I used to do sewing and I am trying to go back to it.
I grew up with an artsy family, so I have been making different things for a long time and I like to experiment. In 2016 I did a small business program with TSRA (Torres Strait Regional Authority) but there was no mentoring program, so they sent us to Many Rivers. That is how I met my Many Rivers business coach, Rita. Before that I was a health worker and art was my hobby.
Deciding to go into Business
I realised that I am at an age where I wanted to do what God created me to do. He puts all these skills inside us and it is up to us to act on our vision. I decided I wanted to challenge myself. Everyone walks around with this gift inside of us and it is so powerful. I had all these ideas and I knew that if I practised, I could turn it into something. I had the potential in me all this time and that is why my business is named Malu (deep sea) Kapu (seed). When I was working in healthcare, I had the passion inside of me to be a small business owner and an artist. But I didn’t realise this until l I decided to stop and focus on what is inside of me.
Working for Many Rivers
I found Rita at the right time in my life. She helped me through a lot. She is a really open and helpful person and has a passion to help people. I feel comfortable sitting with her and she opened my eyes. She helped me to register my business and understand finance, recordkeeping and how to use the receipt book.
Many Rivers is very helpful for small scale businesses and is so different from other services which sometimes focus on the bigger picture. Many Rivers starts at a grassroot level and supports the people through the small, everyday steps of the journey. As an Indigenous person, especially on an island, we don’t realise the potential that we can tap into. We sometimes look down on ourselves but there is opportunity out there. Many Rivers and Rita showed me that there is a journey I can take to go into business.
I think the biggest challenge for me is that we have to go through all the legalities and licences to open your own small business. It is a matter of patience. I was going to open a fishing business, but all the technicalities were very complicated. I believe that there is a time where things will fall into place and that might fall into place later.
I see success now as I am doing all these things that I like doing in my arts and craft small business. I am continuing with my journey and working on setting up myself and the admin side of things. I would like some more training in business skills so that I can really be on top of my business.
I balance my work with what I have to do after hours. There is a future for my business, and I want to grow this baby and let it change with me. It is giving me an opportunity to do more research and communicate with more people who I can share ideas with. When I go to TAFE there are other artists there. I see that we all come from different backgrounds and have different skills and it really inspires me. I get tired but I also feel inspired to rise up and continue to grow my business. I have a vision and I don’t want to grow older and for my dreams to slip away. I don’t want to have regrets.
I would love to be an entrepreneur to help others in the community and elsewhere. I’d especially love to help Indigenous people, people who are disadvantaged or has low income and support them to realise their opportunities. That is always my passion – to help people and see them reach their dreams. We all come from different skills and I would like to mentor them and be an advocate for them and their goals. Last year we had a council election and I was the female in the community running for council. My vision was to make dreams a reality. I believe that if you have a dream, you can make that dream become reality. I would like to see my business go online and sell my jewellery but we are taking baby steps.
Thank you Nazareth for sharing your arts and craft small business journey. We look forward to working with you as your business journey continues.
We love to encourage people to take the first step towards kick-starting their small business ideas. If you have a business idea, please take the Small Business Self Assessment and see if we are right for you.