Heritage at the heart of Indigenous art and luxury fashion brand Mainie

Mainie Australia is more than fashion; it's a journey across time, cultures, and stories, championing the voice of Indigenous art in a modern world. Founded in 2012 by Gunggari woman Charmaine Saunders, from South West Queensland’s Maranoa River region, Mainie stands not only as a fashion brand but as an embodiment of Aboriginal heritage that stretches over millennia.

Charmaine Saunders at the 2023 Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards

The Indigenous-owned and operated fashion and gift company specialises in distinctively handcrafted scarves, kaftans, art and decor.

Mainie’s commitment to authenticity is at the core of their business. Each design and artwork is sourced directly from traditional Aboriginal women artists, and paints stories from a culture that is the world's oldest continuous living tradition.

Enabling these artists to earn from their art, Mainie acts as a catalyst in the preservation of a heritage passed down over generations. Every product, while steeped in age-old traditions, is emblematic of contemporary luxury.

Charmaine Saunders

For Charmaine, it's not just about creating garments; it's about storytelling. Mainie ensures that every Aboriginal design is ethically acquired and reproduced under licence, strictly adhering to the Indigenous Art Code.

She said her clients aren’t just any tourists, they're stylish and affluent individuals who appreciate luxury and are conscious of the stories behind their purchases.

Mainie was the official provider of Indigenous fashion and apparel to the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and supplied stock to the National Gallery of Singapore.

In the wake of COVID-19, Mainie pivoted to e-commerce to counteract the loss of its wholesale and retail revenues.

Mainie currently sells to customers in Australia and around the world through online stores using Shopify and reaching the American market with Amazon USA. Both platforms have had a positive return on investment and the company is looking to expand its online presence in Asia and Europe next year. 

Mainie was nominated in two categories in the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards, taking out the First Nations business award.

Queensland was the first state in the Australian Export Award program to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses with a dedicated award category.

On receiving the award, Charmaine said First Nations businesses had to overcome challenges to innovate and break into international markets, often in difficult conditions. 

“Indigenous exporters represent the oldest living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the world’s stage, and they are central to the identity of all Australians.” she said.

“Winning the inaugural First Nations category at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards 2023 is an enormous honour that we take very seriously. 

Our presence overseas continues to expand. We are very hopeful to see many more First Nations businesses working with Trade and Investment Queensland to further grow Indigenous representation around the world.”

Trade and investment Queensland has played an instrumental role in Mainie’s export journey. Charmaine said TIQ’s offices in Cairns and Townsville assisted the business in overcoming the challenges of being a regionally based exporter, helping to facilitate global logistics and ensuring smooth shipment of large stock.

As the Queensland Government’s dedicated global business agency, TIQ helps Queensland exporters take their products and services to the world. Contact us and find out how we can help grow your business further.