Meet Perina, a proud Torres Strait and Aboriginal Woman, founder of JIRA models and an absolute style queen! I was lucky enough to meet this wonder women through Design Within Country (DWC) when she came on board to help style and organise models for the DWC photo shoots. Perina has also worked hand in hand with Lois Hazel through Jira, who represents Shaniqua, the face of this season range. I am so inspired by Perina's passion for change in the industry and paving the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to become more represented. I hope her story inspires you and make sure to check JIRA out if you are on the look out for a model too!
I would love to know what inspired you to start JIRA and the path you took to seeing it come to life?
I think change was the inspiration. There has been a lack of indigenous models represented in the industry for awhile and still is to some extent. Visa versa, I had many conversations with talents who were wanting to enter the industry but didn’t know where to start. The business was founded on this knowledge where it is a medium platform between the two (industry and community engagement). I am blessed that I am surrounded by a strong community of creatives who over the last few years have helped the agency become what it is today.
Is there a meaning behind JIRA? Why did you choose to call your agency that?
Yes there is a meaning. Jira is named after my great great grandmother Nara Jira Para from Wuthathi country (east Cape York Peninsula). I imagined her being a strong self-determined woman who wouldn’t let anything get in her way. I imagine my talents having the same fire burning inside them.
I know running a small business can be hard, stressful, painful and extremely scary, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, exciting and fill you with such proud moments. Could you share some of these moments you have experience through your journey with JIRA?
All the above for sure! It was extremely scary at the start where I sat on the idea for months before actually doing it. I never ever thought I’d run an agency and not knowing what to expect was another layer of stress! Everything starting falling into place once I got started. A lot of proud moments has happened since the begin. Seeing the talents grow in the industry is one of the proudest. The positive impact that ripples in indigenous communities around Australia is possibly number one. Communities see positive change and hope for brighter future. I’m still overwhelmed by the industry’s engagement with the agency including working with Lois Hazel! It’s been a busy few years.
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
I draw inspiration from most things in my life, from my talents, friends to my family especially my nieces and nephews. I meet some of the most amazing people everyday and have some incredible conversations.
I would love to know a bit more about where you are from, your family and how they have both shaped your identity today?
I'm from the Torres Strait, born and raised on Thursday Island, polar opposite to Melbourne! My family is HUGE! I have 7 siblings, and so many nieces and nephews keeping me on my toes! Home and family both keep me grounded. I miss the noise and sunshine so definitely always make a trip each year to reconnect and regain a bit of sanity :)
What is one thing you would like to see more of in the fashion industry today and why?
I think in terms of models, a dream would be to having indigenous models in the industry as a normal thing, and not because the brief requires an indigenous model or organisations have RAPs to tick off. It limits the opportunities for talents to grow and succeed.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
I’ve had so much great advice shared to me. Top three would be the tide waits for no man, if you want something done - do it yourself, and you’ll never know the answer unless you ask.
What do you have planned for the future? Anything exciting in the works that you can share?
I am travelling home to Thursday Island to catch a mini break, my workload has been quite intense this year! I have a few exciting projects in the works including recruiting fresh faces soon. Looking forward to seeing who’s out there ready to join the Jira family!
What has been the most exciting venture you have done to date through the work you do? Could be personal or professional.
I think the whole journey has been an amazing venture so far! Everything from growing in the industry, meeting with international agencies and working with so many labels - like Lois Hazel!, travelling out to the Kimberleys working with indigenous communities. I’ve grown so much, and learn new things everyday!
I would love to know what your favourite piece from my new range is and where would you see yourself wearing it?
The fold trousers are my favourite! I’m wearing it everywhere at the moment!
Follow along Perina's journey with Jira HERE