It’s no secret many exciting things are happening at Lot Fourteen, but have you heard of The Circle? We talk to six inspiring members of the First Nations Entrepreneur Hub.
Located on seven hectares in the heart of Adelaide, you’ll find a vibrant collective of innovators. Lot Fourteen is home to global tech firms, world-class research bodies, startups and some of SA’s fastest-growing businesses. It’s also home to The Circle, a First Nations Entrepreneur Hub established in partnership with the Australian Government and Government of South Australia.
With its 220 members, and counting, The Circle is a hub for South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, thought leaders and creatives who own and operate businesses across a diverse range of industries and interests; social media consultants, musicians, accountants, foodies, fashion designers, clay makers, educators and make-up creators are all part of The Circle’s exciting network.
Click here to read about five places in South Australia you can learn about First Nations culture.
Less than two years in, The Circle has already seen some amazing success stories. Meet six local trailblazers making their mark on the state – and beyond.
Taydam Knowles, social media consultant
Three years ago, Taydam Knowles felt like she’d lost everything. She’d lost her job as a waitress due to Covid, her contact with fellow journalism students disappeared as uni went online, and she was “hitting [her] head against a wall”. Instead of crumbling in a heap, the now 23-year-old (who you may also recognise as 2021’s Miss World South Australia) was inspired to start three businesses – yes, three.
Today, she’s a successful social media consultant, content creation coach, keynote speaker and tutor, whose services – including her popular Be Your Own Social Media Presenter course – have helped hundreds of individuals transform their online presence and take their brands to the next level. She’s developed an ebook, holds monthly social media events, has her own production company, offers one-on-one consulting, and her programs are now part of the 110-year-old adult-learning institute WEA.
Taydam recalls a two-year-old memory, formed while sitting at a table of local influencers: “There was so much negative talk, people saying ‘it’s bad for my mental health’ – and there I was on the other side thinking ‘I love social media!’, and that’s because I was creating more than consuming.” This memory fuels her passion to help people of all ages – from entrepreneurs to influencers, and from councillors to “16-year-olds who don’t know what they’re doing” – to thrive, not struggle, in the ever-changing online world.
“It’s wonderful. I love what I do. It’s all been so worthwhile,” Taydam tells The Post. The Circle’s a big part of it, having been there from the very beginning of her journey. Taydam now provides her services to other members of The Circle; “It’s about getting as many Indigenous voices online as possible,” she says. “There isn’t enough representation out there, but it’s getting better.”
Tjimari Sanderson-Milera, Aboriginal cultural educator
Growing up, Tjimari Sanderson-Milera – who is a descendant of the Kokatha (West Coast), Narungga (Yorke Peninsula) and Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) people – was heavily involved in his culture through family, dance, and art. When he went through the Australian education system, he noticed a glaring gap; Aboriginal culture – with its 100,000-year-old history – was not taught or spoken about, leaving a broken and disconnected society. Determined to change that, he founded Kumarninthi Cultural Education – an organisation with an important mission to share the knowledge, beauty, and significance of Aboriginal culture with children and the wider Australian community.
“I’ve built something so I can spread my culture and the history around it,” Tjimari tells The Post. “It’s something a lot of people can benefit from, and what needs to happen moving forward.” Every day is different for the Aboriginal cultural educator; some days you’ll find him leading cultural tours through the Botanic Garden and museums, others he’s giving talks at schools, businesses and organisations.
“I’ve seen a bit of a change, but there’s still a long way to go,” says Tjimari. “Primary schools are doing it the best at the moment; it’s great they’re making the change, but it’s also something that needs to be continued to the secondary years,” he says. Thanks to Kumarninthi Cultural Education – and special initiatives like The Circle – things are slowly but surely headed in that direction.
“The Circle’s been an amazing support. They’ve helped me connect the dots with a few different programs I’m trying to run, set me up with a business coach, I bounce ideas off them and we nut out the finer details. If there’s anything I need help trying to find, they’re there to help point me in the right direction,” Tjimari says. What direction is that? He’s currently building an online platform so his one-man-show can reach audiences far and wide. “It’s all good fun.”
Kedeisha Kartinyeri, accountant
Proud Ngarrindjeri woman Kedeisha Kartinyeri is a boss lady – she’s the first female Aboriginal accountant to own her own firm in SA, she works with other Aboriginal organisations (including members of The Circle) to help support their success, she helps mentor Aboriginal students, she’s the proud mum of two-year-old Rory and she’s a keen sportsperson, having played state league basketball once upon a time. Phew!
It all started when Kedeisha went to uni “with the idea of being an accountant for no real reason”. After various internships with Big Four companies, she wound up in a smaller firm working with Aboriginal clients, and eventually made the leap to start her own firm with business partner Mike Levy. Enter: KML Business Solutions.
Kedeisha and Mike are passionate about “building the financial knowledge and breaking down the barriers” within Aboriginal communities and organisations. “We saw too many people not getting the right service,” Kedeisha tells The Post. “Going into a community, you have to be really open to how it works; they’re not a ‘normal’ business, it’s not your usual consultancy work,” she says. “We make an effort to make a personal relationship with people, and to mentor businesses so they understand the backend and know what to look out for and how to read their own financials – you can’t trust anyone else.”
For KML Business Solutions, The Circle has been there from the beginning. “I don’t know where we would be without them to be honest,” Kedeisha says. “They’ve put us in touch with so many people we now work with. They’re an incredible team.” KML Business Solutions is now part of The Circle team, providing financial health checks for all members.
Nathan May, musician
Singer-songwriter Nathan May has been developing his talent since the age of three, when he began playing music in a church in Darwin. He was inspired to make music his full-time career after meeting President Barack Obama in 2011, who urged him to follow his dreams. Nathan moved to Adelaide to study music at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music, and completed an Advanced Diploma of Aboriginal Music at the same time as writing, recording and releasing his debut EP, Reflections. He’s since supported country music legend Glenn Skuthorpe on his national tour, and performed hundreds of local performances including a showcase at the Adelaide Fringe Garden Sessions.
As a descendant of the Arabana, Yawuru, and Marridjabin people of SA and the NT, Nathan is inspired to give back to his community through mentorship programs for young Aboriginal children. “As a kid there weren’t many music programs or much music happening around where I grew up,” Nathan tells The Post. “I know there’s a lot of young kids out there that love music, I wanted to be able to give kids a chance to talk to somebody who’s been doing it for a while.”
He’s worked with a number of organisations including Reconcilliation SA and suicide prevention program Culture Is Life, as well as generation change programs in schools across Marree, Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta. He’s also developed his own music program for kids aged 11-17, bringing his own experiences and story of hope to Aboriginal children who have experienced trauma and violence, and he is currently in the process of designing another school program to help kids gain a closer connection to wellbeing.
Other members of The Circle who also work in the education space are a great source of inspiration and information for Nathan. “That will be the best kind of reward I will get,” he says. “Learning off what people that run similar programs did, what they tried, what worked and what didn’t work. It’s really good to have that.”
Damien Coulthard, teacher, cultural educator and foodie
Damien Coulthard is an Adnyamathanha and Dieri person of the Flinders Ranges, an international artist, cultural educator and high school teacher. He’s also co-founder of Warndu, which means “good” in the Adnyamathanha language. Warndu curates Australian native food experiences using the country’s native plants, nuts, seeds and proteins to create meaningful food and drink products including tea, spices, oil and vinegar, freeze-dried fruit chips, and non-alcoholic spirits, as well as essential oils, botanic soaps, cookbooks and gift sets.
“Through the loss of Elders, our grandparents, my partner Rebecca [Sullivan] and I thought food was the easiest way to celebrate stories that connect people to Country,” Damien tells The Post. “It’s a way of celebrating First Nations resources, providing access to people, and them being able to create their own memories in their own homes through a flavour bomb that connects to place.” He goes on: “Warndu is about social impact; everything has to have education outcomes. Celebrating that plant, its medicinal properties, the collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous – it’s a two-way learning. We want to take everyone on the journey.” For those looking to learn more, Warndu’s cookbook, Introducing Native Australian Ingredients, is a good place to start.
For Damien, it all comes down to restoration of cultural heritage; “Its languages, its food systems, continuing a legacy that’s always been there, and acknowledging the people who’ve come before us.” When this resonates with people, they too become change agents and pay it forward.
Speaking of change agents, Damien is “super thankful” for The Circle, of which he’s been a member for two years. “They’re such good operators and every time I go in there, it’s always a hive of interaction. That ability to interact with other Aboriginal businesses, to go in, have a coffee, connect, then go into your conference room is pretty special,” he says.
Rebecca Gough, artistic director
Rebecca ‘Beck’ Gough is a Flinders Ranges woman of Kuyani and Arabana heritage, and the independent artisan behind Sun Sea Clay – a stunning collection of one-off works, each with its own unique creation story.
After giving up drinking two and a half years ago, Beck, who’s always had a creative streak, threw herself into the world of Pinterest. Ceramics caught her eye, she discovered a good course, and “just got started”. Now, her storytelling-inspired works adorn households and office spaces across SA – and beyond.
“Essentially every piece is the story of my life,” says Beck. “I love my heritage, I love my hometown of Port Augusta; the red desert just up the road, the hills to the east, the ocean. You’ve got three different worlds.” This strong connection to place, combined with her personal story of survival, is Beck’s source of inspiration. “I’m trying to find a way to embody the strength of us and everything we endure,” she says. “What all of us endure, yes, but what Indigenous Australians endure especially.
“Exposure and connections to other artists and businesses has been absolutely foundational to where we are now,” says Beck, who’s currently preparing for her first exhibition. “I’m very grateful for the support of The Circle. They provide so much from an artist perspective as well as a business perspective. It’s been amazing.”
Listen to episode 8 of the Hot Topics podcast where Jack Buckskin talks about why learning about the Indigenous cultures of South Australia is important for everyone.