Meet Jelaynah, a young Gooniyandi woman from Joy Springs, a small community approximately 8 miles out from Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. I had the pleasure of meeting Jelaynah when I was up there earlier this year (2019) working with the Design Within Country (DWC) Team.
Design Within Country is a fashion design collaboration project with Marnin Studio and the Earthed Foundation. It connects young people of Fitzroy Crossing with city-based creatives and mentors on country to create a fashion collection.
Shaniqua Shaw in one of the 2018 DWC pieces captured by Victoria Schommler
Marnin Studio is a therapeutic healing space where women come to create, learn and relax. The space is an incubator for developing products that reflect the artist’s deep knowledge of the local environment, culture and community. The studio combines a strength-based, community led, therapeutic approach to empowerment. Through this social enterprise model, the women have the opportunity to reach financial stability through the sale of their products.
While I was up there I was asked to run a couple of sewing workshops for the senior girls class at Fitzroy Valley District High School. I taught them how to make jersey skirts, hair scarfs and scrunchies.
Jelaynah's quick take to sewing and her attention to detail stood out to me as well as her incredible creativity (she is also a pretty wonderful soul so we got along quite well!). She also came out to visit the DWC team when we were working out at Ngumpan Gallery. It was really great to see her get involved in the project and give her the opportunity to see how fashion and sewing could be a potential career.
Jelaynah ended up making a whole bunch of scrunchies out of the left over fabric from some of the DWC pieces that were then sold at the Darwin Arts Aboriginal Fair in August alongside the DWC collection and other pieces from Marnin Studio. They pretty much all sold out and she even sold one to the incredible Jessica Mauboy.
I asked if she would be interested in sewing up some scrunchies for Lois Hazel out of the scraps from FOLD which would be another opportunity for her to use her skills to earn some money and start a little business of her own.
I recently went back up to Fitzroy Crossing to run a two week workshop at the high school and was able to pick up the first lot of scrunchies Jelaynah had finished sewing. We sat down and answered some questions for me to share with you to get to know a bit more about this wonderful young woman!
Jelaynah has done such an incredible job and I hope enjoy these little pieces of joy that she has made.
I will also be donating $5 from every Scrunchie purchased to Marnin Studio
The fabulous Jelaynah with all her scrunchies
Tell me a little bit about where you are from? Where do you live and who do you live with?
I live in a small community about 20km (eight miles) out of Fitzroy Crossing called Joy Springs (8-mile). I live with my mother, my older brother and my two dogs.
What do you love about your culture?
Everything. I love going on country, hunting and fishing. My family is Gooniyandi, one of the five main language groups here in Fitzroy Crossing. I love how old it is and all it’s rich history.
Jelaynah in a tee she made and painted during my time in Fitzroy Crossing
Can share something in your language?
Jooningada moongiya (not the correct spelling) it means good morning.
What is something exciting you have learnt lately?
Finding out that my uncle is going to have his first child soon!
When you were in Darwin earlier this year you sold a scrunchie to Jessica Mauboy! How did you feel when that happened and who else would you love to see wearing something you made?
I was very happy to see her and also honoured. I would love to see everyone wearing my designs and clothing.
Jelaynah sewing up a LH scrunchie
Who is your favourite designer? And why?
Lois Hazel is my favourite designer because she is very creative and can make use out of everything.
What are your plans for next year? What is something you really want to try and do?
I’m still not sure on what I want to do next year or when I finish school. I want to go to Melbourne to Lois and see her workshop and experience what its like at a fashion company.
Yvonne (another Fitzroy Crossing student), Myself, Jelaynah and Lauren from Mirador earlier this year when we were all up in Fitzroy Crossing together.
What is your favourite weekend activity?
I love going out fishing and being on country with my family
If you could visit any where in the world, where would it be?
You can purchase one of Jelaynah's scrunchies HERE