Building a business for all with culture at its heart, Amelia Rose owns and operates Rose Creations, a small business that hosts everything from scrunchies and earrings, to t-shirts and picnic rugs.
Rose, a Bundjalung woman and recent law graduate, is currently living on Gubbi Gubbi Country. Her connection to Bundjalung Country runs through her matriarchal line.
“The furthest we follow that back was to my great-pop, he was Stolen Generation. My grandma, his daughter, grew up on Cabbage Tree Island, they were suppressed in their identity,” she said.
“I grew up not questioning that my grandma was Blak, it was normal. But I didn’t know that we were Aboriginal because no one spoke about it.
“My grandma had so deeply ingrained that idea that being Aboriginal was shameful.”
As Rose grew older, she began to step more strongly into her cultural identity, growing a strong sense of pride in her Aboriginality.
“It wasn’t only for me, it was to show my grandma that she can too. I don’t want my grandma to live the rest of her life suppressing part of her identity and damaging herself and feeling ashamed,” she said.
“That was a huge turning point for her, she had gone 60 years thinking that she was a bad person purely because she was Aboriginal. It was so important to me she could live the rest of her life liberated in her identity and being open and honest about who she was.”
“She ended up telling her friends that she is Aboriginal, and it became something that she is proud of.”
Rose began to explore ways to connect to culture and Country, and in doing so found Rose Creations.
“My grandma didn’t learn language because she wasn’t allowed to, and neither did my great pop. That was taken from us, this business has been a way for me to find those connections and find that part of me,” she said.
Rose began with weaving earrings and selling them through Facebook then making an Instagram page in April 2020 as business picked up.
“I started doing tasseled earrings, then I started doing clay, then resin and acrylic. I kept expanding, I did scrunchies, and it just kept going,” she said.
“It’s now been a year since I got my Instagram page, between April and November I was running everything through an excel spreadsheet … I finished my degree and the moment I handed in my last assignment I started making my own website.”
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Creating her own website gave Rose the capacity to customise certain features including a place name box at the checkout, which requires all customers to include what Country they are on.
“I wanted to do it because I know Australia Post is encouraging it, and if they are there’s no reason why the rest of us can’t,” she said.
“It has no effect on how the mail is delivered, it just means that I see that, the lady at the post office sees it, the person who picks it up and processes it sees it, the person who loads it into the van sees it and the person who delivers it sees it.
“It’s sprinkling education through the system, in a systemic way. If we want to fight systematic and institutionalised racism we have to do it in a systemic and institutionalised way.”
Rose said her brand has given her the ability to make connections with mob across the country, including Blak creators and small business owners like her.
“One of the best parts has been being able to support other Blak creators. At the end of the day, a sale to someone else’s business isn’t taking away from me, it all goes back to our community and that is what is important,” she said.
“I get to use my platform to help people who are starting out, because back when I only had 200 followers someone did that for me. It’s a cycle of support, if we all lift each other up, we will be unstoppable.
“This is something that I have been gifted, I’m able to do this. Meeting people and having a small effect on their lives because I just do what I do — those are the true moments for this business and the moments where I feel most connected.”
With a newly released Heal Country NAIDOC campaign and a few little additions to the store on their way, Rose remains focused on her purpose — to create an inclusive, supportive and welcoming brand for all.
“I feel like when I go to things like the Invasion Day marches, the thing that overwhelms me is how many people are there and how many different minorities are there … All these people from all different areas coming together,” she said.
“I want to create a space for everyone that reflects that, it’s been so important to me to reach out to a diverse range of people whether that is within gender identity, sexuality, size, racial identity or religion.
“I want this to be representative of everyone, it’s Aboriginal-owned and created but it is made for everyone.”
By Rachael Knowles