By Megan Dennis
Online production by Joseph Lam
Alisha Geary may seem like your normal university student, but behind the scenes, the young indigenous woman is running her start-up active-wear label, FAEBELLA.
The designs feature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art on the fabric, with five per cent of sales going to the artist themselves.
“The main purpose behind the brand is to share the main stories behind the artwork which not a lot of people know,” said Geary.
She was inspired by the collection of Indigenous art at Bond University, but at first had a very different idea for her designs.
“I saw the more contemporary artworks as being beautiful on dress but I did some more research and found active wear was a booming mark so I basically I put two and two together and that’s how it came about.”
Geary was able to start her company by winning the Bond Business Accelerator Program, which is designed to build entrepreneurial skills.
“I realised it’s the perfect thing for me to flesh out the idea and see whether I could pursue it properly, so basically a lot owed to Accelerator in that sense that it really kicked a lot off for me.”
She has even had companies such Google approach her to join their programs.
“A bunch of opportunities have come up for the business because it is still in its startup stage, so it could still go through an accelerator but I have put a lot of opportunities off just because of university commitments.”
Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Geary’s mentor Doctor Baden U’Ren says the main focus of Faebella has always been the Indigenous art.
“But it was her passion and drive and unique take at solving a couple of problems at once that set her apart”
He says programs like the accelerator program allow students to hone their business ideas and skills.
The beauty of Faebella and Alicia Geary running through that program is that when she ventured out into a broad field she was ready he said.
Start-up Catalyst CEO Aaron Birkby says entrepreneur programs in universities are becoming increasingly important.
“I think the appeal of the on-campus profile is students are at a very low-risk in their life so it’s actually the perfect time to experiment with a start-up and onto entrepreneurship”
QUT Business School’s Doctor Gary Mortimer from says it is important among fast fashion that start-up brands find their point of difference.
“It would be important for a startup business in that sector to understand what is currently in the marketplace and then to differentiate.”
Alisha says she believes she has found that niche with her label, and hopes to take it global.
“The goal is basically to be a global brand, I guess you could say almost like Lulu Lemon but with some culture.”