When Téa and Belle's products were being developed one of the main aims of this venture was to highlight how beautiful Indigenous culture is.
Indigenous culture isn't as hard to incorporate into our broader Australian culture, and Téa and Belle would like to assist you in finding more resources and beautiful Indigenous and Indigenous inspired products that assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In the broader Australian cultural landscape it is noted many times by many people that Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander culture is under-represented. Working in this space for many years and owning a business that produces Indigenous products I find the broader population want to respect and more so embrace our culture but do want to offend our people in the process.
The phrase cultural appropriation which is by definition; the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture. When we see our Indigenous flag on a T-shirt with a made in Taiwan tag, when we see didgeridoos being sold in tourist shops at The Rock's in Sydney or on the tourist strip on the gold coast or further more when major International Fashion houses like Chanel appropriating the boomerang as a fashion Item; to Indigenous people this is upsetting and has the association of exploitation.
With the survey that was completed by over 5000 people (that informed the Téa and Belle Products), this was the main concern to you. You did not want to buy products that would appropriate Indigenous culture, you wanted to support Indigenous people by purchasing products made for all Australians to own and own with pride. When buying from Tia&Belle you are buying from a family run business that is wholly Australian and that includes Indigenous and Non-indigenous people, though all of us are committed to Reconciliation and walking softly on our country.
With only two percent of Australia's population identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander means that to have a robust and thriving cultural economy all Australians need to support Business initiatives by Indigenous Australians.
But how do I know if I am culturally appropriating Indigenous Culture, you ask?
This can be tricky but we have to think when purchasing what's the difference between "taking" from a people's tribe, heritage or connection to country or are we honouring it?
The two points I always tell people who ask the above are:
1. Is it sacred to a particular culture?
Make sure the item, outfit, homeware, giftware etc does not have cultural significance to a particular tribe
2. Has any culture been shamed for this in the past?
Examples such as Golliwog dolls, American native Indian chiefs used in tobacco advertising, Indigenous inspired dot paintings or traditional headwear etc. Any products that have taken elements of a person culture that were once deemed primitive to civilised western society and then repurposing it into a product that is trendy or "on point" for people who can afford it and ignores the people's history, injustices and struggles is just not kosher.
Belle and Téa themselves are the next generations of consumers but more importantly, they are of an era that is finally promoting reconciliation, and this provides the opportunity for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous to create businesses, events and services that are respectful of Indigenous culture.
Here are some great resources where Indigenous-owned artist showcase their products: