Business envoy caught up with Maggie McGowan at Gorman House Arts Centre, on the fringe of Canberra City, while she was setting up a ‘pop up’ store for her fashion label Magpie Goose.
Magpie Goose is a fashion social enterprise that puts a modern twist on traditional remote community art. The social enterprise fashion label is a labour of love for McGowan and her partner Laura Egan.
McGowan started the business to provide an opportunity for people in remote communities to generate funds and to share their culture through textiles.
“A lot of art centres were designing and printing textiles out in community, but you could only really get access to them if you visited the community as a doctor or a teacher or some sort of service provider, or if you worked at the arts centre. These textiles tell such incredible stories – of culture, history, landscape and people – the whole world deserves to know about them.”
Magpie Goose runs workshops on textile design in remote communities around Australia and assists artists with intellectual property processes to license the designs through Copyright Agency. Once the licensing agreement is finalised, designs are sent for screen printing in Sydney. The fabric is then brought to life as ‘wearable art’.
Magpie Goose provides a platform for Indigenous artists to share their stories through textile design to people around Australia and the world. Magpie Goose products are sold in the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, China and New Zealand.
“These artists we work with love being able to generate income from their work, but a major motivator is that people understand them; and that people are listening and want to hear their stories because they’re such incredible stories - often of elements of Australian history that are often not heard. I love being able to provide a point of connection between people who may not know these stories, and people who are telling these stories.”