Collaborating with artists that inspire her was a pipe dream of Sharnee’s for some time. So when Melissa and Lauren of Miimi and Jiinda reached out to collab, it was an instant yes. A mother and daughter artist duo, these Indigenous women are strong, resilient matriarchs as well as talented artists. They are devoted to celebrating their strong bond with family, land, and culture through their work. Lauren, also known as Miimi, was part of the Stolen Generation, forcibly separated from her family and taken to a Grafton orphanage where sadly her Bundjalung-Gumbaynggirr-Dunghutti cultural identity was punished. Lauren was taken alongside 13 of her brothers and sisters, they too were put into orphanages separated into boys and girls homes. Before Lauren was taken, at age 9, she had grown up culturally strong with her mob…nothing could break her connection to culture, family and ancestors. This kept her going those tough years and a testament to the beautiful strength she carries today. At 18 she was reunited with her family.
Despite the difficulties arising from this trauma, the pair have found healing by joining forces to create a successful, creative business. Miimi and Jiinda was formed as a positive way to celebrate their family's heritage by bringing its beauty into the spotlight. We are mesmerised by their strength and infatuated with the stories they have to tell about matriarchy, motherhood, and Country. We’re so humbled to unveil this collab rug as a celebration of the land we live and gather on. We spoke to Melissa of Miimi and Jiinda about their business, future plans and being an artist as well as a mother.
1. Miimi and Jiinda is a brand with family at the heart and soul of it. How has working together brought you closer as a family?
As we live near each other and work together we spend a lot of time together, which we love. It’s great to be able to support each other through our creative processes and I love mum’s little pearls of wisdom she shares with me.
2. In what ways does Miimi and Jiinda fill you with pride?
Mimi & Jiinda is a representation of everything that is close to my heart, it is what brings me joy and is an expression of what is important to me in this life. Culture, family, connection, giving back, sharing, bringing light to important issues and authenticity.
3. Every great venture always has its challenges. What challenges have you come across on your path as artists?
The juggle of it all. Being a mum, business owner, artist, fashion designer, author, plus wearing many more hats is a constant juggle. It requires a lot of time, good work ethic and energy. Balance is key, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. But, I will say, it’s incredibly rewarding and I’m so grateful everyday for my life. To be living my dreams and passions.
4. We were thrilled when you approached us for a collaboration last year! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to create Miinggi Jaanymili together. We deeply resonate with your connection to the natural world. What initially attracted you to Wandering Folk?
We have followed your page for some time now. We love that you have a passion for creativity with your stunning picnic rug designs and art, plus your commitment to offering high quality products, focusing on sustainability and giving back. Your aesthetic is stunning and we could just picture your rug adorned with our work. We have really enjoyed working with you all and can’t wait for the launch.
5. Collaborating with other artists is so exciting to us because it gives us a sense of community, and enables us to expand beyond our comfort zone. What do you love about being part of a collaboration with fellow creatives?
I just love that we instantly got each other. Our visions were the same and our ideas aligned beautifully.
6. We love the print selected for our rug. How did the print come to be? Could you share more about the artistic process behind it and the significance of this beautiful design?
The design is perfect for a picnic rug because it’s all about coming together to share special moments with family and friends. Created from our original artwork, Miinggi Jaanymili (Heart Gathering) It is deeply rooted in our culture and its symbolism is very special for this collaboration.
7. It was delightful to see how engaged your children were with nature during our photo shoot. In previous interviews, you mentioned your desire to pass on your culture to your children. Could you elaborate on this? Is instilling an appreciation for the land a value you wish to cultivate in them?
Passing on my culture to my children is extremely important to me. They both learn our Gumbaynggirr language and culture all the time and are surrounded by their elders and family where we live on Country. They also have Italian/Dutch heritage on dads side, showing them that side is equally as important.
8. We enjoyed a picturesque picnic together by the lake in Lennox, which felt like a dream. If you were to host your ideal picnic, where would it be, who would you invite, and what would you indulge in?
The Swiss Alps, or a Greek island in the Mediterranean or back home on our beautiful Gumbaynggirr Country. I’d love all our special people to be there with us. We love seafood so lots of fresh seafood and champagne.
10. And finally, if you could go back to when you were dreaming up Miimi and Jiinda, what advice would you give your past self?
I would say that practicing self care and focusing on your mental and physical health is paramount. Start practicing this from the beginning to avoid burn out later on. Also, opportunities will come and go and then come again. Don’t lose focus of what’s important to you and what your purpose is because everyone will try to pull you every which way to suit their own needs. Stay true to yourself, practice authenticity and speak from the heart.