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Article: Mainie Turns Five

Mainie Turns Five

Mainie Turns Five

Invited guests at the Mainie launch

Five years ago, on the 7th August 2015, my husband and business partner, Denis Keeffe and I launched our first Mainie collection of stunning Aboriginal art designs at an exclusive twilight event on the Cairns waterfront.  

Mainie’s unique melding of authentic Aboriginal art and luxurious silk was the culmination of many years of planning and perseverance. From the get-go, we had set ourselves a grand vision to become an internationally recognised iconic Australian fashion brand.

Our mission has always been to support the empowerment of Aboriginal women from isolated and disadvantaged communities in the heart of the Australian Outback by providing them with genuine opportunities to earn an independent income from their own work.

In the years preceding the Mainie launch, we had carefully acquired and licensed original artworks by Warlpiri Aboriginal women artists through the world acclaimed Warlukurlangu art centre in Central Australia. Located in the small Aboriginal community of Yuendumu in the remote Tanami Desert region, Warlukurlangu has long been a stronghold for the preservation of the ancient Warlpiri culture and language. 

art design mainie
Original Warlpiri Aboriginal art designs featured in our first Mainie fashion collection


It was always of utmost importance to us that the authentic Aboriginal designs we featured in the Mainie fashion collection were ethically sourced in accordance with the Indigenous Art Code. We had worked with Warlukurlangu to put in place licensing arrangements, whereby we purchased the original paintings and the Aboriginal artists retained the copyright to their work. This meant that the artists would always be paid royalties from our sales of their designs.

Our maiden collection included 12 designs on a range of beautiful silk scarves, wraps and kaftan tops. These exquisite wearable art pieces were presented on the night by six stunning local Indigenous models in a performance choreographed by Indigenous designer, Grace Lillian Lee.

Mainie Silk Scarves

Mainie silk scarves

Mainie Silk Scarves


Our launch event brought together people from an array of backgrounds and community sectors, including business leaders and dignitaries from all three levels of government. 


Gimuy Walubara Yidinji
Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Traditional Owner, Associate Professor, Henrietta Fourmile Marrie AM delivered a moving Welcome to Country.


Cairns Regional Councillor, Linda Cooper
Cairns Regional Councillor, Linda Cooper wearing a Storm Bird silk wrap.


Hon Curtis Pitt and Kerry wearing the Medicine Seed silk scarf
State Member for Mulgrave, then Treasurer of Queensland and now
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Hon Curtis Pitt and his wife, Kerry wearing a Medicine Seed silk scarf


Hon Warren Entsch and his wife, Yolonde wearing a Sacred Vine silk scarfFederal Member for Leichhardt and Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, Hon Warren Entsch and his wife, Yolonde wearing a Sacred Vine silk scarf


We made the decision to launch Mainie in our hometown of Cairns because it is one of Australia’s most important international gateways and domestic tourist destinations. We knew that if we could prove ourselves by gaining a strong foothold in our local market, then we could expand quickly into broader national and international markets. 

Thanks to the incredible support we have enjoyed from across our local community over the last five years, Mainie has indeed grown to make its mark on the national retail scene with our products available at over 90 outlets across Australia. Our international brand awareness is one of our key success factors and continues to increase. As a leading Aboriginal-owned fashion brand, Mainie has  been selected to be the exclusive supplier of Indigenous fashion and gifts to the Australian Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai. 

There are some who say that the first five years in business are the toughest.  For Mainie they certainly have been a valuable, if sometimes gruelling learning experience. I can honestly admit that very few of our best laid plans turned out the way they the supposed to, but this has only made us stronger. We are more committed than ever to achieving our vision to take our uniquely Australian Aboriginal fashion designs to the world.  

Thank you everyone for your support of what we do at Mainie.  Here’s to the next five years.  Cheers!


Posted by Charmaine 'Mainie' 

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