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Paperbark prints putting culture into Christmas

Grace Crivellaro -

With the love of Country and kin running through their designs, Paperbark Prints is a small business aiming to foster a deeper connection to culture this Christmas.

The deadly new business creates sustainable greeting cards that spread joy and bring conversations about culture to paper.

Behind Paperbark Prints is proud Whadjuk, Nyikina, Minang, Ballardong woman of Western Australia, Dana Djida Garlett, who launched the creative venture during NAIDOC Week.

Her first collection of card designs features native plants and bush foods with a "Christmas spin", including the Quandong Wreath design.

"In every card, there is an element of culture," Garlett told NIT.

"For example, the Quandong wreath is well-known not just by people in Western Australia, but also in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"But for me and my family, the Quandong is something that we look forward to ... every year.

"It's a family event ... going to pick the fruit and preparing it for jam."

At the helm of Paperbark Prints is proud Whadjuk, Nyikina, Minang, Ballardong woman of Western Australia, Dana Djida Garlett. Photo supplied.

The Dilly Bag card design also carries a personal connection to culture and kin. Dilly bags are woven from fibres of native plants and are usually filled with bush fruits, nuts, berries and seafood.

For Garlett, weaving dilly bags is about "coming together, about yarning ... connecting with each other as a family".

"Weaving is an important way that me and my family also practice our culture," she said.

"My grandmother, she taught my sister, my mum and myself to weave. And funnily enough ... when I was learning how to weave, I was pregnant, and I had about three or four weeks to go with my pregnancy. And I was sitting down and waiting in the lounge room with my mum. And just all of a sudden ... my waters broke.

"It was just a really beautiful time. It holds a lot of meaning. I think it kind of tells a little story about me as well. And I think it's nice I can share my culture in that way."

Paperbark Prints Dilly Bag card design. Photo supplied.

While Garlett said she hopes her cards spread joy, the most important thing she hopes they bring is a deeper connection to culture in everyday life.

"I was speaking to a lady today and she was talking to me about the Flowering Moodjar card.

And she was just saying, oh you know, it's a lovely card, I haven't' seen anything like it," said Garlett.

"And she said, her husband, when they're driving in the car, he looks out the window, and he's like, 'Oh, the Moodjars are flowering now, it's getting closer to Christmas.'

"And for her, when she thought about what he said, she remembered my card. On the back of my card ... it talks about the significance of the Moodjar tree. And so, for her, it added a little more meaning to it.

"And I guess that sort of sums up everything that I want, and I hope that I can bring that to people. It's about connecting with Aboriginal culture; it's about finding something as simple as a wreath."

Garlett believes supporting Blak businesses this Christmas not only provides Indigenous communities with more opportunity, but also paves the way for the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

"I guess from growing up in my family, we've never been in a position to own or run a small business. I never knew anybody who was a business owner or anything like that," said Garlett.

"As Aboriginal people, we've always been resilient. We've got some great ideas and now that there's more talk about supporting local, supporting Blak businesses, it's opened up a lot more opportunities for us to really get our name out there and get our businesses out there.

"I want my son to, to know that if he wants to be a business owner one day ... that he can do that. And it comes back to you know, setting our children up for the future."

To support an Indigenous-owned business this Christmas, find more from Paperbark Prints here:

By Grace Crivellaro


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