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Article: Mainie: Investing in Aboriginal Women, their Families and Communities

Mainie: Investing in Aboriginal Women, their Families and Communities
aboriginal art

Mainie: Investing in Aboriginal Women, their Families and Communities

Sacred Water Dreaming Site on the Warlpiri Homelands in the Tanami Desert

For over 60,000 years, Australia’s Aboriginal people have inhabited the vast and diverse landscapes of the island continent, nurturing a rich heritage that is believed to be the oldest continuous living culture in the world. This heritage, marked by intricate art, profound spiritual traditions and resilient languages, faced near extinction following British colonisation in the late 18th century. However, the resilient spirit of the Aboriginal communities, especially those in the remote inland desert regions of Central and Western Australia, has kept these ancient traditions alive.

Today, the survival of these traditions is not just about preserving the past but also about creating sustainable futures for Aboriginal communities. Mainie, a proudly Indigenous-owned fashion brand, plays a significant role in this mission by melding authentic Aboriginal art designs with high-end fashion, thereby supporting Aboriginal women from remote Outback communities.

The Resilient Legacy of the Warlpiri People

The story of Mainie intertwines with the Warlukurlangu art centre at Yuendumu, a small community nestled in the heart of Central Australia’s Tanami Desert. Founded in 1987, Warlukurlangu is one of Australia’s longest-established, Aboriginal-owned and controlled arts centres. It supports around 600 artists, primarily from the Warlpiri people, who were among the last Aboriginal groups to encounter Europeans due to the remoteness of their lands.

The Warlpiri Elders, born and raised on their desert homelands, maintain sacred customs, ceremonies and their language, passing down their ancient culture and stories to the next generation. As this generation of Elders passes into history, their stories and traditions are preserved through the arts centre and the work of brands like Mainie.

Mainie’s Ethical Commitment to Aboriginal Art

Mainie’s fashion collection features Aboriginal art designs ethically acquired under license, in accordance with the Indigenous Art Code. This means that the original artworks are purchased from the artists at prices they set, and the artists retain the copyright to their work. Mainie pays royalties from every product made to the artists, ensuring a regular and ongoing source of income. These royalty payments are crucial as they significantly exceed the one-off payments for the original artwork, providing sustained financial support to the artists and their communities. If an artist passes away, the royalties continue to support their families.

Economic Empowerment and Cultural Preservation

By purchasing a Mainie scarf, customers are not just acquiring a beautiful, luxurious fashion item; they are investing in the economic empowerment of Aboriginal women. Philanthropist Melinda French Gates has noted that investing in women in disadvantaged communities benefits the entire community. This is certainly true for the Aboriginal women artists supported by Mainie. The income they earn stays within their communities, fostering the care and well-being of their families and reinvesting in their local economies.

Mainie’s collaboration with Aboriginal art centres like Warlukurlangu ensures that these artists can earn an independent income from their work. This financial independence is vital for preserving their unique cultural heritage, as it enables them to continue practicing and passing down their traditional Dreamtime stories and artistic expressions to future generations.

A Global Reach with Local Impact

Mainie’s scarves and other fashion items are worn and loved by stylish women around the world, but their impact is profoundly local. Each exquisite wearable art piece carries with it the stories, traditions and spirit of the Aboriginal artist, who crreated the original design, bringing a piece of her rich cultural heritage to the world stage.


Purchasing a Mainie scarf is more than a fashion statement; it is a meaningful investment in the lives of Aboriginal women from remote Outback communities. It supports their journey toward financial independence, helps preserve their unique cultural heritage and ensures that their ancient traditions continue to thrive for future generations. Through Mainie, the vibrant art and stories of Australia’s First Nations people find a place in the modern world, celebrating their resilience and timeless beauty.

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