Warringah Mall: Jarin Street is proudly Aboriginal owned and run

PROUD VOICE: Wiradjuri woman Jarin Baigent, 38, is the owner of Jarin Street which is one of the newest shops at Warringah Mall. Picture: Geoff Jones
PROUD VOICE: Wiradjuri woman Jarin Baigent, 38, is the owner of Jarin Street which is one of the newest shops at Warringah Mall. Picture: Geoff Jones

Jarin Street, located in Warringah Mall, is very proudly Aboriginal owned and run, owner Jarin Baigent says.

"IT was incredibly terrifying, the weight of the responsibility was daunting. Especially not being a shop owner or a business owner before this. But the overwhelming support of the Aboriginal community reassured me that I was doing the right thing and that I could do it.

It was about representing all the brands and the communities that we have in this shop and doing the best job that I could possibly do for them. Representing my own community and my own family and the responsibility of looking after staff and mentoring young people and making sure that everybody's taken care of.

The biggest responsibility was maintaining a culturally safe space for everyone, inviting people in but also protecting our own space.

Jarin Street is an Aboriginal owned activewear brand, I feature artists and Aboriginal artworks and incorporate that into wellbeing products like activewear and exercise mats.

I've got three artists who work with me at Jarin Street, one is my auntie Joanne Cassady, she's Wiradjuri and she's the owner of Balgarra Designs. A really close friend of my Liz Maloney is a Gamilaroi artist she's from Gunnedah originally. The third artist is a young artist named Ella Gillespie and she an Awabakal girl that's the Newcastle region but she lives on the far north coast of NSW. They do the artworks and I design the garments.

People who come in, they want to know where their money's going, if they buy from here they want to know that their money is going back to Aboriginal communities and 100 per cent of the purchases made in this store go to Aboriginal communities.

We're 100 per cent Aboriginal owned, we're Aboriginal staffed, all of our products are Aboriginal owned, so from start to finish in this business everything is centred around Aboriginal leadership and self determination. We're trying to create a sustainable, economic future for our children and this is a space that we have created to achieve that.

A lot of them [producers/artists who supply to Jarin Street] I've got personal friendships with or relationships with or they might be my family. That's my auntie's artwork there, the t-shirts are by friend Jess. There's a very strong Aboriginal business community and we all just link in with each other.

Trading Blak is an Aboriginal business collective that stands to highlight Aboriginal owned businesses. There is a saturation in the market of non-Aboriginal owned businesses that appear as though they are First Nations, that trade in Aboriginal culture but are not themselves Aboriginal owned or led. Be empowered to ask 'are you an Aboriginal owned business?'. It's not disrespectful, don't presume and don't feel uncomfortable asking that question.

When I first started the business it was a secondary job because my full time job was as a police officer, I was policing until 2019, it was just shy of 13 years. I really felt like I hit a ceiling in my career around having a voice on issues that were affecting my community, I felt like I was no longer having any impact and I just felt a little bit disempowered in my journey as an Aboriginal woman.

There is a saturation in the market of non-Aboriginal owned businesses that appear as though they are First Nations, that trade in Aboriginal culture but are not themselves Aboriginal owned or led.

Wiradjuri woman Jarin Baigent, 38, is the owner of Jarin Street

I just felt the need to connect to something that made me happy, made my spirit happy, connected me back to my creative and so I decided putting designs on exercise and yoga and pilates mats. I'm a sporty person and I like to maintain my health and wellbeing and I wanted to create something that I could be proud of in that space.

The local Aboriginal people and the broader Aboriginal community has been overwhelmingly supportive. I think we needed a space like this to see Aboriginal businesses and Aboriginal community represented in a mainstream location like a Westfield Shopping Centre.

Nalani Spencer, Mia Murdoch, Stella Phillips, Emily Murdoch, Tailani Latu, Tegan Murdochr and Jarin Baigent at Jarin Street. Picture: Geoff Jones

Nalani Spencer, Mia Murdoch, Stella Phillips, Emily Murdoch, Tailani Latu, Tegan Murdochr and Jarin Baigent at Jarin Street. Picture: Geoff Jones

We have 13 employees who are people of colour, including 11 Aboriginal staff members and two girls who are Tongan and we are very committed to empowering young people, particularly around employment and mentoring. I know how it felt to be a disempowered young person so I've always committed to being a support person in community for particularly young Aboriginal people.

There was a lot of anxiousness when we opened but the day we opened the doors and had our first day in the shop I knew it was the right thing to do, instantly. The energy in here, the commitment from the staff, the support from the community and then the support from the broader community as well as Westfield. It's been a place of pride, absolute pride."

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