In what sets an important precedent for the Australian fashion landscape, beloved social enterprise clothing label Magpie Goose is now the first non-Indigenous company to transition to First Nations ownership.
The transition was announced earlier in the week with Brisbane-based Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey of Blaklash Creative, Open House Collective and Aboriginal Art Co taking over as owner-directors from co-founders Laura Egan and Maggie McGowan.
“Magpie Goose is a socially conscious brand that we believe in,” Amanda and Troy say. “It provides Aboriginal artists with ongoing economic opportunities, and connects the broader community with our people, our culture, and our stories. We commend Maggie and Laura for having the courage to be the first non-Indigenous company to transition to Indigenous ownership. This is a momentous occasion, a timely and important step for industry to affirm the capabilities of black businesses, particularly those that involve Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP).”
IMAGE: MODELS FROM KALUMBURU WEARING PIECES FROM MAGPIE GOOSE’S FIRST COLLECTION. PHOTO BY KALUMBURU PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE.
IMAGES: OBBY BEDFORD WEARING MAGPIE GOOSE.
Amanda and Troy’s first step as owner-directors has been to appoint three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, announcing Christopher Bassi as general manager, and Perry Mooney and Elisa Carmichael in sales and customer service roles. The brand will continue to operate as a social enterprise, with profits reinvested into the business to support the achievement of its mission.
To celebrate the exciting news, we caught up with Amanda to learn more about what the transition means both for the brand and the industry more broadly.
How did this come about? What was the catalyst for the transition?
Maggie and Laura have always strived to create as much impact as they can with Magpie Goose. It was time for the business to grow and they wanted the right people on board to lead the next phase so that the impact the business creates could be amplified. They were familiar with our work (with Blaklash Creative), loved our entrepreneurial approach and our passion for showcasing Aboriginal art and culture. They have recently welcomed a new baby girl into their lives so it was the perfect time for them to take a step back and to usher in new leadership.
Will Maggie and Laura still be involved? If so, how?
We would be crazy to think that we could instantaneously take on the business without any input from the founders! Maggie and Laura will be in essential roles ensuring continuity and important mentoring and training for new Indigenous staff members.
We are working with them to understand sales, communications, marketing, design and collection planning, production, community engagement, finance and budgets. We’ve brought a very clever team together, particularly with our new General Manager Christopher Bassi onboard, and we can’t wait to get into some future and strategic planning and business development in the coming months.
IMAGE: MODELS FROM KALUMBURU WEARING DOMINICA’S LANKY DESIGN. PHOTO BY KALUMBURU PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE.
IMAGE: MODELS FROM KALUMBURU WEARING ROSA’S MACASSAN TRADING DESIGN. PHOTO BY KALUMBURU PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE.
Is this something you think other businesses should consider? And in what circumstances?
We are hoping that businesses that have a mission to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will take time to reflect on their business operations and structures, and assess whether their business model and leadership situation sits comfortably with them, asking themselves, “Is there a way we can create more impact?”
We would love to see more companies transition to Aboriginal ownership. There are also a lot of creative ways to support First Nations communities so we encourage others to start courageous conversations and see how you could make a genuine social impact.
Where to next for Magpie Goose? What exciting things do you have planned for the brand?
We are excited to move Magpie Goose headquarters to Brisbane and we will host a very fun pop-up towards the end of the month, so keep an eye out! We can’t wait to connect with communities that have designs in the pipeline and of course creating new capsules is something that is very appealing to us as art curators. Troy and I are also looking at ways to support the broader First Nations fashion industry and reinvest in our community.