The desire to make a difference for her culture and her people has led emerging Indigenous entrepreneur Kirsten Atkinson on an ambitious path to developing an online sales platform for Aboriginal artists.
Four years ago, the Bangerang/Gunaikurnai woman started Yingarna Designs, firstly making clothing out of fabric with Aboriginal designs before expanding into jewellery.
“I have always wanted to help make a difference for my culture and people and have previously done this by working for Community Health Organisations and Aboriginal Health Services, which I loved,” Kirsten said.
“Starting Yingarna Designs allowed me to pursue my dreams while working from home and letting my creative side out.”
Now living on the New South Wales Mid North Coast with her partner and two young children, she took part in a local start-up learning course in May this year.
Kirsten said that, while the 10-week course was heavily focussed on tech start-ups, it sparked the idea to build an online sales platform similar to Etsy for Aboriginal artists.
“The idea is that we will have a range of different artists selling artwork on this platform, and they will manage the sales process themselves,” she said.
“There are lots of really talented artists out there who may not have the confidence or products to do a market stall or sell online, or don’t have the time because of family commitments.
“Through our platform they can manage selling their artwork without having to be a tech wizard. We’re going to make it really accessible.”
Importantly, the platform would also allow artists to be more in control of how their artwork was marketed and sold and ensure that artists keep the majority of sales profits.
Kirsten is developing the platform with her sister while they both juggle full-time work.
She attended Generation One’s inaugural Dream Summit in Sydney with more than 80 of Australia’s most talented Indigenous entrepreneurs and was awarded the Wayne Quilliam Art Prize for her pitch.
Kirsten said she would absolutely endorse being a part of Dream Summit.
“It was really great to make connections with like-minded people who want to do good for our culture,” she said.
Kirsten’s dream is to build a business that is big enough for her to give back by running community programs and giving community grants.
“I want to make a difference and create opportunities for other people to create their own opportunities.
“It has been my dream for a very long time to make it happen, I just have to do it.”
She hopes to launch the website by the end of the year, starting with her own products before attracting other artists.