TradingBlak’s Jarin Street is the newest specialty store situated in the heart of one of Sydney’s most popular shopping malls.
Stocking only Aboriginal owned and designed products, the boutique at Warringah Westfield bursts with bright colours from the designs of some of the most recognised and respected Aboriginal artists and designers in the country.
Jarin Baigent is the brains behind the business, and said she was motivated by ongoing reports of authentic First Nations artists being taken advantage of by non-Indigenous owned companies.
“Without our culture and our art there was no product, there was no business. So, really, we were the most important part of those business models. And to be honest I was just sick of us not being in control in the driver’s seat in those relationships,” says Jarin.
Baigent is also the Managing Director of TradingBlak, “a platform that promotes transparency and ethical practices among businesses trading in Aboriginal culture to combat 'exploitative' operators,” as per their website.
"Nobody knows the Aboriginal business space like Aboriginal businesses, and we know our own communities. TradingBLAK is a space for Aboriginal business to stand firm as leaders in a space rightfully ours. We invite allies to walk with us.”
When asked about her opinion on non-Indigenous business owners who profit from Indigenous culture, Jarin said she questions their reason for why, and emphasises the importance of self-determination for Aboriginal people.
"What are you doing right now to upskill our communities and our people to be in the driver’s seat? Or will those businesses consistently and continually profit of our culture forever?" asked Jarin
A former police officer, Jarin said she decided on the career change after hitting a wall with leadership and feeling like she wasn’t being heard, especially on Aboriginal issues.
“I felt my voice was being silenced.”
Jarin said she had never even worked in retail before opening the shop and is overwhelmed by the support she has received from the Aboriginal community.
Baigent admitted her favourite part of the job was the capacity to be able to support young people to enter the workforce, with five of her employees currently working their first job at the store on Sydney's North Shore.
Driven by an aspiration to see more Trading Blak businesses in mainstream locations throughout the country and the world, the fitness wear designer strongly encourages young First Nations people and entrepreneurs to take the step into trading their authentic goods and services.
“For any mob working inside systems and felt the feelings that I felt while I was working inside a system, just know that you are supported, that you are important, that you are valued and your communities see you! But if you do choose to step outside those spaces you will continue to be loved and supported by our communities as well!” said Jarin.
Not just limited to retailing grassroots brands, the space hosts evening traditional weaving workshops and is also advertised as a meeting place for the mob, especially teenagers and young people.