How does Magpie Goose create impact?
We create new opportunities for Aboriginal people within the textile and fashion industry. We do this in the following ways:
- We license textile designs
- We hire Aboriginal models
- We facilitate textile design workshops
- We showcase the work of artists and art centres
- We grow the market for Aboriginal textiles
- Read more about our impact here.
How does Magpie Goose begin a collaboration?
Magpie Goose is typically invited by a group/community to collaborate.
Here are some examples of how our collaborations have come about:
- Jinibara Collection - Woodford Folk Festival connected us to traditional custodians of the Woodford Folk Festival site, Uncle Noel Blair, and Jason Murphy, because they were interested in new ways to showcase Jinibara culture at Woodford Folk Festival
- Kalumburu Collection (Sept 2020 - 2021) - we commissioned the Kalumburu Photography Collective to shoot a collection for us in 2017. All of the models and photographers were so interested in the clothes, they said ‘we’d like to see our designs on clothes!’ - so we organised a textile design workshop!
- Minyerri Collection - One of the artists, Samara Billy, attended a Magpie Goose fashion show in Katherine in March 2018 and said ‘I’d love to see our designs on models! Can you come and work with our artists on a collection?’
- Urapunga artists (After the rains collection) - Margaret and Rhonda Duncan had established their own business as artists and wanted to build their profile, and try a new artistic medium. They took the opportunity to be involved in our Katherine workshop in August 2017.
- We often make connections with art centres at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF). We met Hopevale Art Centre and Ikuntji Artists in this way, and DAAF provides a great opportunity to reconnect with our art centre partners from previous collections (like Babbarra Designs and Tiwi Designs)
Do you only work with Art Centres?
No, we also work with Independent artists and community groups. We are often contacted by women’s, youth and community groups who see value in partnering with Magpie Goose. They might want to learn about textile design, begin or expand their artistic practice, learn about product / fashion design, share their culture, and generate income.
Who are the founders of Magpie Goose?
Magpie Goose was founded by Maggie McGowan and Laura Egan in 2015. You can read more about us here.
Why did you start Magpie Goose?
Maggie + Laura founded Magpie Goose in April 2016. They wanted to create a platform for Aboriginal people to share their cultural assets with a global audience through the form of wearable art, and grow the market for Aboriginal textiles.
Can I buy the fabric and make my own clothes?
We do not sell fabric by the metre, but many remote Aboriginal art centres do - check out Ikuntji Artists, Bábbarra Designs, Injalak Arts, Merrepen Arts, and wholesalers Aboriginal Bush Traders, Provenance Arts & Publisher Textiles.
What is the company structure?
Magpie Goose is incorporated as a Pty Ltd company.
Is Magpie Goose a social enterprise?
Yes, Magpie Goose reinvests profit generated through trade to create impact in line with our mission.
How do you approach your collaborations with artists?
Before engaging in a collaboration, Magpie Goose provides information to artists/art centres on how their designs will be used, how the artist will be acknowledged and how they will be remunerated. This information is presented as a ‘proposal’, and is reviewed and agreed on by artists / art centre management / an art centre board.
How do you acknowledge the artists who’ve created designs for Magpie Goose?
Magpie Goose provides a postcard with the artist’s bio, photo and the artist’s story of the design with every item of clothing we sell. We feature all of this information on our website too. Where we can, we make a video of the artist talking about their design, themselves and their community.
What are your plans to offer further training + employment opportunities for Aboriginal people?
The first few years of operation were all about keeping the business alive so we could continue to channel opportunities to remote artists, art centres, models, and photographers. In March 2021 the founders handed over ownership of the business to Brisbane based couple Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey; the business is now under 100% Aboriginal ownership and leadership. Maggie and Laura, co-founders, have stayed on to offer training + management support for a new expanded team which is now 70% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The business continues to exist as a platform that provides income generating + training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around Australia - in textile design, modelling, photography, storytelling, and now management, customer service, sales etc within the business.
What is the difference between cultural appreciation/celebration and cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation refers to taking someone else’s culture ― intellectual property, artifacts, style, art form, etc ― without permission. Cultural appreciation involves working together to ethically share and celebrate cultural assets.
How do you involve the wider community in the release of the collection?
Wherever possible we return to the community where the designs were created, to do a community ‘launch’ event (often involving a fashion show), and to shoot the images for the collection (for use on website, social media, and print media content).
Unfortunately Covid stymied our plans to travel to Ikuntji/Haasts Bluff community, and will restrict our ability to return to Kalumburu to shoot the collection - however we are working on innovative ways to involve community members in the release, as well as connecting with a broader network of Aboriginal models and photographers.
How can we be confident your dealings with artists are ethical?
We use a textile reproduction license agreement produced by Arts Law and endorsed by Copyright Agency. We facilitate an introduction to representatives of Copyright Agency who can represent artists in their negotiations with Magpie Goose.
We are a proud member of the Indigenous Art Code, who maintain standards for ethical dealings between Dealers of Indigenous Art and Artists.
We commit to being on the ground to develop relationships with our collaborating artists and art centres. We explain the whole process to them and together we co-design the collaboration to ensure it meets the needs and aspirations of the community and all the steps are clear. When we return to the community with the designs it’s a real celebration of what we achieved together.
What percentage of the sale price goes to artists?
We do not operate on a set ‘percentage of sale price per item’ licensing agreement. Rather, the artist is paid a license fee for every metre of their design we print, as soon as it is printed onto fabric (often months before the item is sold). The royalty per metre is negotiated between Magpie Goose and the artist / art centre, and each agreement is commercial in confidence. Rest assured these agreements are endorsed by Copyright Agency as fair and ethical. There is currently no industry standard for licensing Aboriginal artwork to be printed on fabric / clothing.
Do you have shop or a workshop I can visit?
You can visit our new Magpie Goose HQ at Aboriginal Art Co, 89 Grey St South Brisbane, to view the full Magpie Goose collection. We also sell online, and at pop up shops around the country - watch our social media for announcements! We have started stocking a limited run of prints and sizes at Open House West End in Brisbane; Lulu and Daw in Darwin; and Yardsale Trading Co in Newcastle!
Can I stock Magpie Goose clothing in my shop?
Our profit margin on items is very slim (due to the high cost of make), so we cannot offer the traditional wholesale discount. We do partner with a limited selection of Australian boutiques - get in touch if you'd like to discuss a partnership: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you make me a custom outfit?
As our manufacturers require minimum orders we cannot currently create one off pieces! The textiles make great wedding and party and general outfits though – so if you cant find something that works for you from us, it's definitely worth buying fabric from the art centres that sell online, and getting something made up! Raw Cloth in Darwin sell beautiful one off pieces, as does Albertini Couture (who will also make you something just for you!)
What do you do with the offcuts? Can I have them for quilting?
We have been getting our makers to save offcuts since we started production with them in September 2017 – as the fabric is so valuable, we want to use every last bit of it! We make baby rompers with the bigger bits, and are partnering with Second Stitch in Melbourne to create smaller accessories (scrunchies, bumbags, baby bibs etc) with the smaller pieces. After this, there's not much left for quilting sorry!
Who does the screenprinting?
Some art centres have capacity and facilities to do screenprinting in community; however most prefer to get their bigger commercial orders printed by Publisher Textiles in Sydney. This frees them up to print + sell direct to consumer (and to have more fun playing with different colourways in smaller runs!). When Magpie Goose licenses designs from art centres and independent artists, the designs are exposed onto screens and screenprinted by Publisher Textiles.
Why don’t people in remote communities make the clothes?
There’s not a history of mass clothing manufacturing in remote communities (like there is with painting and weaving for example). Some communities are engaged in sewing but often this is small scale bags, accessories and one offs. We do not have capacity to set up a sewing training and production centre in remote NT, though if anyone were ever to show an interest in this and set it up, we would be very keen to be a customer!
What is a social enterprise?
‘Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment.
Using the power of the marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems, social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.’ (Social Traders)
Are you an Indigenous business?
Yes. In March 2021 the business transitioned to Aboriginal ownership + leadership. Read more about the team here.