Charmaine Saunders, the creator of luxury Indigenous fashion brand Mainie, has been named as a Queensland finalist for the prestigious Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2019.

Saunders was nominated in the Small Business category by her colleagues and peers. This category puts a spotlight on hard-working business women with astute business skills and a passion for empowering other women.

Mainie is a fair trade, ethical fashion label that incorporates Indigenous art into every luxury piece created. The brand is currently carried at 70 retail outlets across the country.

Saunders, a descendant of the Gunggari people in southwest Queensland, had a desire to promote Indigenous fine arts internationally and launched Mainiein 2015 with her business partner and husband Denis Keeffe.

The brand initially only sold an assortment of silk fashion accessories and shirts displaying authentic artworks created by Warlpiri women of Central Australia’s remote Tanami Desert region.

“Through our wearable art, we provide opportunities and make a substantial investment into the advancement of women, particularly Indigenous women,” Ms Saunders said.

After only three years, Mainie has expanded from accessories and shirts to an entire range of seasonal designs and a men’s gift collection. They have also expanded their artist base with a variety of works now coming from Queensland artists, too.

Saunders said she is blown away by how far Mainie has come and is excited to see how far they can go. She added Keeffe has recently been working to expand business across Mainie’s wholesale operations.

Saunders credited the brand’s success to having a solid business plan, a devoted team, and a strong philosophy built on social consciousness and cultural integrity.

“I am humbled to be named a finalist in these very special awards and give thanks to all of those special people who have contributed to making Mainie into what it is today,” Ms Saunders said.

The Telstra Business Women’s Awards Queensland winners will be announced in Brisbane on 21st March 2019.

By Hannah Cross