After scaling the heights of the mining industry in Western Australia - a career in fashion wasn't the most obvious choice for Amanda Healy. But that's exactly what she did, throwing herself into a world of scarves and pocket squares.
SBS Small Business Secrets
6 Aug 2017 - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 29 Jan 2018 - 1:12 PM

The Indigenous word Kirrikin means “your Sunday best,” and is a nod to the clientele Kirrikin founder, Amanda Healy is trying to attract.

The vibrant colours and patterns of her range of scarves, pocket squares and ties are not for the faint of heart.

At $245 AUD dollars a pop - Kirrikin scarves are made to be seen, and behind each design is a story from an Indigenous artist.

“We actually have stories from traditional Aboriginal people who interpret art and their stories in modern ways,” Amanda Healy told SBS.

Ms Healy sold her business, Maxx Engineering, to an international company for a multi-million dollar sum in 2015.

As a frequent presenter at business forums, she had struggled to find wearable Indigenous products.

“Being an Aboriginal woman in business and working in such a remote and male dominated area I found that I was wandering around doing these presentations and talking to people but…there wasn’t anything available for nice, quality Aboriginal print scarves,” Ms Healy said.

Ms Healy invested $250,000 dollars into her new Perth-based venture, digitally printing Indigenous artworks onto fabrics.

Before long, it became a social enterprise.

“As we talked to the artists it became obvious that a lot of them were economically disadvantaged, the original intent was to set up a business but of course it became too hard to walk away from, to see how some of these artists survived.”

Kirrikin employs six Indigenous artists who receive a return on the profits of items sold with their paintings on them.

Francine Kickett, from South West, WA, thinks the Kirrikin business model is “wonderful” and refreshing.

“I was particularly excited to come on board; it's a vision that since coming out of university 17 years ago, there's never been anything in place in Aboriginal communities to work with Aboriginal artists, the copyright and the payment factors,” Ms Kickett said.

Kirrikin has experienced a 400 per cent increase in sales since 2014.

There has been strong interest from the US - but also local support from museums and galleries across Australia.

“It was always designed to be high end, we want to be the Gucci of the Indigenous market but we also want to hit the high-end tourism market, people who can't take back wooden products,” Ms Healy said.

Kirrikin also has a swimwear line in its sights, just in time for summer. 

Want to find out the secret to small business success? Tune into #BizSecretsSBS at Sundays 5pm on SBS, stream on SBS On Demand, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.