My business is Memory Box Design. I’m based in Sydney’s Inner West and I make homewares out of organic and natural materials, mainly ceramics, but I’m also a textile designer.

I grew up in Darwin and Indigenous and multicultural culture was very much part of my life. I was a social worker for ten years and community development has always been an interest for me. When I had my children, I took time off work and studied a Bachelor of Design.

13 years later, it was really difficult to get back into the workforce. I had such a big gap in my work history and just couldn’t find a job. I started really doubting myself and my ability to do things that I could do before. I was also juggling appointments for my children, they need quite a bit of support and it was a really disheartening and demoralising time.

Then Covid hit, which made my job search impossible. I had thought about starting a business but I was a bit scared of my ability to do it. I met Global Sisters and started dabbling in what a business would look like and it just became more and more appealing. The more I focused on the business, the less I wanted mainstream employment. Global Sisters held my hand through the initial fear of the unknowns and got me thinking about the possibilities. The community of sisters is a really nice support structure, it’s been fantastic.

Having my own business has absolutely helped to rebuild my sense of self and my identity outside of being a parent. The great thing about having a business is you are responsible for it, you make the decisions, it gives you a sense of pride.

The creative process is still quite exposing. If I’m resisting doing something, I’m aware that’s where my learning is. I still have some fear around taking the next steps and a fear of failure and, sometimes, fear of success, too! But, life’s too short and I’ve learnt to let go. My studies were really hard, but the business has been a really joyful experience – scary but joyful. I no longer see mistakes as failures, they’re just tools for learning.

My short term goals involve starting some textiles. I’d like to have a shop front which doubles as a studio and allows me to provide workshops.

I love the idea of telling diverse Australian stories, and being able to work with communities to help share their stories.

Heike StephanMemory Box