8 March 2024

Kowanyama gets creative with arts and craft store opening

| Cape York Weekly
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Charmaine Lawrence (right) serves RISE team member Lavinia Thomas after the new arts and crafts retail store in Kowanyama opened its doors for business. Photo: Supplied.

Kowanyama residents looking for handmade bags and jewellery, as well as other fantastic items, only have to venture outside after an innovative arts and craft retail store opened for business on 28 February, 2024.

Run by RISE Ventures, the store will operate from Tuesday until Thursday each week and has a diverse range of products on offer, including at its inhouse op-shop.

The store has been divided into a number of sections, with each devoted to handmade items crafted by the RISE Ventures Women’s Hub, products imported from outside the community, such as cosmetics and perfume, as well as the op-shop, which will sell men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, books, toys and baby products.

The retail operation will be managed by Kowanyama resident Charmaine Lawrence, who worked with Rise Ventures’ Ebony Kachel and ladies from the Women’s Hub to renovate the arts centre, make the creative items on offer, order stock, sort op-shop donations and create the store’s colourful signage.

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Ms Lawrence said she was incredibly proud of what the community had been able to achieve by developing and opening the store.

“I stood up and achieved something for myself, my family, my children and my community,” she said.

“I’m proud to be a Kunjen woman.”

Ms Lawrence added her hope was that having the handmade products in the store would encourage more people to get involved with the Women’s Hub, which would provide her with the chance to mentor and support their creative journeys.

RISE Ventures and the organisation’s small businesses in Kowanyama, including the arts and craft retail store, are funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency through the Community Development Program and newly-launched Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program.

The RISE Ventures gardening team celebrate the opening of the new arts and craft store in Kowanyama on 28 February. Photo: Supplied.

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