Australia is not one country. There are 250 individual nations recognised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, all with unique cultures that are location-specific. Speaking in Colour, an 100% Aboriginal owned organisation, connects people to culture. Headjam collaborated with them to deliver a brand to rival the world’s top cultural institutions.

If you’re new here, Headjam are a creative agency operating on Awabakal land – Newcastle, Australia. Spreadable is where we go behind the scenes on some of our projects to demystify the creative process. In this Spreadable episode, we talk to Speaking in Colour owner, Cherie Johnson, about her business and creating a brand inspired by 65 thousand years of Aboriginal history.



Looking for more? As well as these informal episodes that aim to demystify the creative process, we also create case studies that outline the brief, audience and challenge we were solving for each project. Click here for the Speaking in Colour case study.

This project was listed as a 2022 Finalist in the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), in the category of Design for Good – Social & Community.



Video transcript

Sarah: Hi, welcome to Spreadable. For those of you that are new here, this is Headjam, we're a creative agency running on Awabakal land in Newcastle, Australia. My name is Sarah. I'm the Chief Creative Officer here at Headjam. And today, we are doing a Spreadable episode, which is a deep dive into some of the creative projects that we've done in the past. We're talking with Speaking in Colour. And for those of you that are tuning in from overseas, Australia is not just one country, it's made up of 250 individual nations and each culture is location specific. And that's kind of why Speaking in Colour exists to connect people to culture.

Today, I'm speaking with Cherie, she's the owner of Speaking in Colour. she is many things: a mother, an artist, a fellow female business owner, a lecturer, a PhD candidate, an author, an Aboriginal rights activist. You're the one on the megaphone at those rallies. I've heard you. And all-round kick-ass human. The owner of Speaking in Colour, Cherie Johnson, welcome.

Do you want kick us off by telling us a little bit about yourself and why you started Speaking in Colour?

Cherie: Sure. Thank you for having me today. My name is Cherie Johnson. I was born in McLaren. So my family on my father's side, they're all Scottish, but on my mother's side, we've always identified as Aboriginal people. So, we're actually Gomeroi descendants. Because I was raised with my nan, my mom, I've always had a closer affinity with my Aboriginality, my Aboriginal side of the family. Not denying my Scottish side at all, because very evident in my world, but it's something that I've been really passionate about which led to my whole starting of Speaking in Colour. What's happening today has been…there's a need for education and I could see that. As a mother and as a creative myself, I felt that. I studied in education as a teacher. I also studied in the creative industries as an artist and a curator, and I always wanted to be able to amplify voice to make sense for my colleagues around me, but also for my family and for my young people coming through.

I'm a mum of a 15 and a 13-year-old and I just would like to do my part to make the world a better space so that they don't feel othered and they feel they belong.

So for me, I think starting Speaking in Colour was never a dream. It was a door that opened that I was brave to step into. I'm still being brave.


Sarah: Did you feel compelled?

Cherie: Yeah, I did. Like at some... Yeah, I did.

Sarah: Yeah. I think quite a few business owners often find themselves in that spot, you know, like it wasn't always a choice or a dream of, "Oh, wow. I can't wait to grow up and run a business." But it was more feeling compelled to do something that you always knew needed to be done.

Cherie: Yeah. I always worked in community and I always did work around amplifying voice. So when I was teaching and working with my colleagues who asked me questions of, "How do I implement Aboriginal perspectives into my day to day curriculum?” And as Australian teachers, it was a genuine question. And I was like, well, yeah, really good point. How do we help equipped people? How do we look at the education curriculum, support them through that? How do we help them engage with the young people? So, it kind of just birthed out of that idea. And then, you know, getting asked to go back and teach academically and there was opportunities for study. So yeah, it definitely was a, "Somebody needs to do something." And then I kind of looked around, "Why isn't somebody doing something more?" And then I thought, "Well, I could be that somebody, could I?" And then, we just kind of stepped into this space. But I did not expect it to be what it is today.

Sarah: Yeah. And that's interesting what you say about the Australian education system and teachers looking for answers there. Because I know from my personal experience, when I went to school, I learnt very little about Aboriginal culture. And you might be appalled, but not surprised to hear that. I don't remember having an Indigenous person come and talk to our school at all, ever.

As part of us working together Headjam did...a group from Headjam did the workshops that you run, and I learned way more in one hour than I ever did in the, you know, decade and a half that I went to school. So, it has... Have you heard... Has that also been your experience that a lot of... I mean, I think it's changing a bit now, but a lot... There's this big gap and there's big appetite.

Cherie: Definitely. So if I start with education and go into the corporate. So, what happens is as Australian teachers with an Australian Curriculum, the government saying, "Every program, every time implement Aboriginal perspectives." Not just to help young people who identify as Aboriginal Torres Strait to feel like they belong, but also to educate because this is our point of difference. I mean, how many people travel overseas to have cultural experiences?

Here in Australia, we're actually the oldest living civilization in the world.

Sarah: Yeah. Which is wild. Like 65,000 years, right?

Cherie: Yeah. 100%.

And actually, we don't even know.

Sarah: True.

Cherie: We actually don't even know. So the oldest man-made structure in the world is in New South Wales, Australia.

Sarah: That's wild.

Cherie: And it's the Brewarrina Fish Traps. I know. And the oldest human remains is also in New South Wales. Mungo men and Mungo women, and you can tell by the way that they've been laid ceremonially and how they've been buried. That gives reference to civilization, and ritual and culture. And I know I'm talking philosophy now, but it kind of makes you wonder, why hasn't Australia embraced Aboriginal people and culture? Because this is our point of difference and this could be huge for Australian public.

Sarah: Oh, absolutely.

Cherie: But people are awkward for all the reasons. So how do you help people move-

Sarah: I'm sure there's a lot of guilt there. Perhaps.

Cherie: So as human nature, our fight or flight.

Sarah: And like you say, it’s one of the oldest but it's also so recent, as well. Even when, you know, it's only 200 years ago that white people even came to Australia. And when you were running the workshop, and I think you say this about all your Aboriginal facilitators, you know, there's personal stories. And I think that helped as well. That was a really interesting connection point. Yeah, of course, they're personal stories, because it happens so recently. So yeah, very old, very new. Obviously, a need.

Cherie: I mean, it was only 40 years ago that we had the New South Wales land rights act that said in a court of law that Aboriginal people did have connection to country- country significant, country is of economic, spiritual and cultural benefit, need for community. And then 30 years ago, we had the Mabo decision, which said, you know, "Terra nullius." So Australia was formed under that term, terra nullius, which means land belonging to nobody. So it's that whole idea that Aboriginal people were either invisible, or subhuman or something. So like you said when people deep dive into that, they're like, "What does that even mean?"

Sarah: I know.

Cherie: So today, what's happening in the corporate world, is people are saying, "We want to be part of the change." But they're not sure how to be part of the change. So they're like, "Well, we want to do these RAPs or we want to do a employment strategy, or we would like to partner with community in a particular way." And my approach to that is what needs to be strategic? Why are you doing anything?

And what outcome do you want to achieve as a result of it? And then, how do we navigate that space? So I think being in education for so long, and then also, you know, I've been around a little while now and I've seen good, bad and otherwise. But it's how to navigate any business manage change, which is really interesting. And that's what we do.

Sarah: Yeah, that is interesting.

Cherie: It's good.

Sarah: I read a statistic that less than 1% of Australian businesses are run by Aboriginal people. So I had a question for you. How have you found running a business, not just as Aboriginal person, but as a woman?

Cherie: Uh, well-

Sarah: (laughs) Just to like, dive right in there. That has been gnarly for you? (laughs).

Cherie: It's gnarly. Gnarly is the right answer. I didn't want to be a business owner. I just wanted to be a human making a difference in this world and this has kind of evolved. What's happened in the indigenous business sector is it's the fastest growing sector in all of Australia which is phenomenal. The government has had a hand in that, so the government has said anybody receiving government funding, need to look at their procurement policy which is 3% of a business’s spend. Is there a way that they can investigate redirecting 3% of their spend to an Aboriginal business? Because Aboriginal businesses employ Aboriginal people. So the mindset behind what they're trying to achieve is, because if there's a breadwinner in a family, then you can break the cycle of disadvantage. We're talking housing, education, and health. So that's really important. However, we're on the cusp of growth, and it has been growing pains. Like, everybody's experience. So now we've got all these, from a ministerial perspective, you've got that we understand the impact that this can have on Australian society. And then you've got people who are business-ready, and then it's connecting the in-betweens to make sure there's ample supply chain and products coming through the businesses for these Aboriginal businesses. One, to keep afloat. Two, to keep capability in house. You know, you need to have good projects, to be able to employ good people. You know, all of these factors. So you don’t go into business light-hearted and if you think you can go in with the skillset that you had when you left high school then you're in for a rude shock. So I've just finished that AICD course and brilliant-

Sarah: What's AICD? Sorry.

Cherie: Oh it's the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.

Sarah: Okay. That sounds serious.

Cherie: It was a lot of reading. It was a big assignment and exam and I'm like, "Ah, oh my gosh. Thank god that's over." However, that's the biggest thing, right? You constantly have to be in the business delivering, working on your business. But for me personally, all of this is for my kids, to make the world a better place. So it's the whole, you know, you've got to do what you need to do for your clients, but not at the cost of my children. So for me starting a business was tricky. In the indigenous space often because I'm in a disruptive industry, people are wondering whether or not they need to have these products. They're also wondering if two dollars and two minutes is ample to be able to execute. Which often isn't the case. So for me it's that constant balance of, well why am I in the game? What is useful? What's beneficial? What's going bring about change? Without sacrificing my family at the same time. And that's the real conversation of business, isn't it really?

Sarah: It's a constant struggle, right? Like, I think, now that everybody's at work, you know, it feels like the way, obviously family is still important. We have a five-year-old at home. I mean, not at home right now. He is at school. (laughs)

Cherie: We love school. Yeah.

Sarah: Don't just, I don't just leave him at home and come to work. But you know. Like I don't think there's ever a time where you think, "Wow, everything just feels perfectly balanced." It's either you're sacrificing one thing to get on with something else or vice versa. And it's never...well, I've never found a rhythm where everything feels perfectly balanced and I, I actually don't think that's true. I don't think that there is balance. There's sanity but I don't know, I don't know if there's balance.

Cherie: Yeah, you need to be good in your soul with the decisions that you make. So someone once said to me, "As a woman, you can have everything. Just not at the same time."

Sarah: Yeah. Fair.

Cherie: So there's seasons in life. So for me I've made a conscious decision to only do x amount of projects because I have a 15 and 13 year old and I'm a single mom. And I, my daughter is a sass queen. She gives me some serious side eye. And my son needed help on his geography assignment up until 11:30 last night because I didn't get home from a gig until 9:30. You know, 101 parenting right here (laughs).

Sarah: Yeah, it's a lot, isn't it?

Cherie: But we got it printed and he got it submitted, you know? And it's just, yeah. So like I said to you before, Thursday night I'm meant to be at something else but I've decided I'm not going go because I want to be at home and have dinner with the kids. I've already sacrificed another night this week. So it's being okay with the decisions that you make so that's why you need to understand your why and where your values sit. Because someone's always going to be unhappy with you. But as long as it sits right in your soul.

Sarah: Yeah. And I think that's modern business, right? Like, we don't want to copy what's come before. We want a new way of doing life and business and that whole juggle.

Cherie: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: I have a curly question for you.

Cherie: Ooh.

Sarah: Yep. So, Headjam is run by three white people.

Cherie: Oh yeah.

Sarah: Obviously we're working with an Aboriginal organisation. Tell us a little bit about why you chose to work with Headjam.

Cherie: Your values. I've seen your clients. And I was like, you know, I don't want to make anybody feel bad that might be listening to this, but I've gotten to the stage in business who I choose who I work with. Because I need to have that value alignment and you guys are really funky. And because we are in a disruptive space I needed to be aligned with a marketing company that understood our risk tolerance for being outside the box. But also equally being super clean and minimal and just neat and tidy. And because you help. So I looked at your previous work and you came recommended through somebody who I trusted. So for me, the fruit of your portfolio and your relationships was the reason.

Sarah: I think something that we really value is really doing the hard work to understand the business. So whether that's any business, you know, like, I think yours is a great co study. We did workshops, we really kind of dived in there. But that, that wasn't unique to working with you. I think that's something that we've found is one of the most important things of working with any business. So that's finding out what the business does, how they work, and then who they want to talk to and what their interested in.

Cherie: I knew that you guys were the right pick when Luke had said to me, "Tell me, let's tee up a time to talk about what you do." And I said, "Rather, why don't you bring your team to come and see what we do?" And we had that day, there was a couple of people in the room. And we had that strategy, kind of brainstorming, talking about the essence of the products that we deliver. And then by you guys having that experience I knew, well, if you heard that, you would hear what we're trying to achieve on a bigger scale. And you did and then I think you've identified the values really beautifully and seen the pace that we run at and yeah that was a really good approach. So I appreciated your listening and your leaning in. And really clearly from that you kind of laid down any pre... this is the biggest thing for me. Because we're in disrupt... like, people go, "Aw, you should be pigeonholed this way or that way." And especially as a female. You think, "Well actually, no." As a female-

Sarah: Don't you love it when people tell you how you should be? Fun, isn't it? (laughs)

Cherie: Yeah. Shouldn't you be at home? Should-

Sarah: That's a whole other podcast.

Cherie: (laughs) Shouldn't you be at home more with your chil- it's like, you know what?

My children are allowed to see success so that they expect that for themselves as well.


Sarah: Yep!

Cherie: But that, the biggest thing for me is knowing that you had, not you personally but your team, had took the approach of, "Let's remove our bias of, or our, our preconceived lens of what we think Speaking in Colour does or what Cherie does or what the, you know, 95% Aboriginal women-run business do." You were like, "Oh, okay. Let's run with this." And I, I really appreciated that and I found that to be refreshing. Because often I get dictated to. Not only as a female but as an Aboriginal person.

Yeah. "We we're happy to have your perspective, your diverse perspective at the table as long it looks and smells and feels like everybody else's perspective." And if you ask a curly question it might be ignored.

Sarah: Oh, fun.

Cherie: Well that happens regularly. And I kind of go, "Okay, thank you. Bye." (laughs) And we have to be that way otherwise it... yeah.

Sarah: Well no progress is really going to come out of that. Like, if they just give you a box of where you can operate and not interested in any real or radical or, I don't know, you know, that's, that's not going to push things forward. I felt like you really came to us with a big vision and a big vision for Speaking in Colour. And I thought we might talk a little bit about the brand and I've got some pictures of kind of where we started for the inspiration. It was about branding an institution that could rival other cultural institutions in the world. So it was looking at the big galleries, the museums, the universities. You know, I think sometimes the... what am I trying to say? Like, we definitely wanted to level it up. Like, it needed to be on this world class stage. Because like you say, being in a room with people, sometimes they say, "Oh, okay, we're doing the Aboriginal stuff but it's in this box over here." But no, this is world class culture. Like, we need to put you up there so. You know, I felt like you came to us with that vision.

Cherie: Loved it. Yeah.

Sarah: And we tried to turn that into visuals. So when we were looking at inspiration and where to take it there we were looking at, yeah, like I said, universities, museums, galleries, other cultural institutions. The other thing that we really wanted to explore was this idea of a spoken Aboriginal history. This is something you said to me. Aboriginal history is a spoken history. It's passed down through language and it's an oral history, I think you said. And in your previous logo you were kind of, like, you came to us already with the name Speaking in Colour, already operating for... well had you already been operating for, like, five years? Something like that.

Cherie: Something like that, full-time. We established the business in two thousand... uh, yeah. I don't know. About five years, I think it had been.

Sarah: Yeah, about that.

Cherie: Yeah, as a full-time.

Sarah: Um, so you're kind of already running along. Often businesses come to us when something's changing or they're levelling up or they have new offerings. So we kind of visually signify that. And so your previous logo had kind of playing around with these speech mark ideas. But I guess what we were, when we saw that we were like, okay, we see where that's heading. We think we can make that clearer and make it more about really obvious that it's speak, speaking. So we went, you know, sometimes I find the best, most elegant design solutions are the most obvious solutions. You know, we're all humans in a fast-paced world. If you can see a logo and instantly understand what it’s about, you can keep moving forward. So we looked at the speech bubbles. And we actually really ran with this in the brand. So the speech bubble is in the logo. And then we reinforced it even more with this symbol that kind of held the speech bubble. And then we really used that as an asset to, we had these really cute swing tags. For the make a lot of products as well. And we have, there's one of the turtles.



Cherie: Well, the beautiful thing about those products that we make is, it's not necessarily us. We actually support 13 micro businesses. So we help amplify their voice. 

It is about Aboriginal people amplifying their own voice and dictating their own narrative. This is the first time in history that we're actually allowed to do that.

So you're capturing that simple visual means the world to us because, that's because what we want our voice to count.

Sarah: I had in the back of my mind you on that megaphone as well. I was like, "Yes, it's going to be loud." (laughs)

Cherie: Well, if it needs to be said, it needs to be said. (laughs)

Sarah: Yeah, loudly. Nice. I like that. Um, so, I guess from there we just kind of rolled out the visuals and we really used, we ran with this asset. We know in design if you kind of have like an asset or an element that you can help to make things consistent, it makes it easy for people to remember that this is your stuff. We did notepads, which were quite cute because you can write your own ideas in the speech bubble. And we did stationery, and then that kind of rolled into things like brochures. And then we went wild with colour.

So, of course, with a brand like Speaking in Colour, how could you not? We had all these different variations of the logo in all these really bright colours. And, yeah, I think that's kind of rolled into some of the merch, because merch was important to you as well. I know you do cultural camps and work at schools. Tell us a little bit about the merch that you have and why. And this is your ... that's your son, isn't it?


Cherie: Oh, it is too. Oh, that's the 13-year-old that was doing his science assignment until 11:30, 12 o'clock last night. Because we do teacher training, teachers love to wear merch. And it's a great way to create your name to be a household brand as well. And then when we're doing young people at the camps, it's really important that we're conscious that different children come from different households. And we wanted the young people when they come to camp, to receive a merch pack. And if they were dressed in that merch pack the entire time that they were at camp, they were on par with somebody else. Because there's nothing worse than a young person feeling like, "Oh, I don't have the shoes that everyone else's got." Or, "I don't have the threads." You know? So for me that's important. We actually give away most of our most of our stuff, which is probably appalling to you guys, I know, it's not very good business.

Sarah: No, it's good that it gets out. Maybe not fantastic for your bottom line, but like great for the world. So, yeah.

Cherie: Yeah. And the lanyards are beautiful for corporates because you can see the yellow tag in the bottom of your handbag. It's really important for your keys. But teachers love the hats, all of our casual staff and our seasonal staff. Because we support a lot of contractors who are amazing artists and what we do is we give them a merch pack as well, even if they just do a day's work with us. So they've got a T-shirt and a hoodie, and a hat, if they want it. We’ve had the pens that we use them in training all the time. I love the notepads because people really do put their own thoughts-



Sarah: In the speech bubble.

Cherie: ... in the speech bubbles, yeah, which is really good.

Sarah: It's nice when little things like that line up.

Cherie: Yeah, it does.

Sarah: As, as a designer, those kind of things make me happy.



Cherie: Well, I've never told you this, but a couple of times I'll be walking through Westfield, Kotara or Charlestown, and I'll see a random kid wearing Speaking in Colour merch, and I'm like, "Hold up, I don't even know you are." (laughs) That’s cool.

Sarah: Yeah, I like that.

Cherie: Yeah, same.

Sarah: Do you sneak like a little photo on the sneaky?

Cherie: Yeah, I should actually.

Sarah: Run up to them and be like, "I love your T-shirt." (laughs)

Cherie: (laughs) Love it, yeah. I actually had someone recently say to me, "Oh, I've come across this amazing company, Speaking in Colour, do you know about it?" And I went, "Oh, yeah. I work for that company." And they're like, "Do you? What a great job." And I'm like, "Yeah." (laughs)

Sarah: Did you give them a T-shirt? (laughs)

Cherie: No, I didn't. It was a teacher that worked in a particular school and I just went, "Maybe you should encourage your school to do training with us." So yeah.

Sarah: I think that ... and I think that's a good point about like how branding really does get your name out there. You know? I think you've always been quite clued into marketing, even though maybe that's not, like I guess that's why you worked with us, but think intuitively you were very much across that and the importance. And the importance of giving stuff away for free, but it actually, you know, such as your T-shirts and things, but actually how much of a big impact that has and why I think you're really clued into why, why that stuff is important. So that's kind of nice, nice to see.

Cherie: And I think the biggest thing for me is I, you know, like I said, I never wanted to go into business. It was never meant to be about that. But now I'm at the next phase of business and I don't want it to be about me. Speaking in Colour needs to be its own brand and that's what you guyshelp establish. Establish that as an organization that can scale. And it's not the Cherie show. And it's not any individual worker's show. It really is the brand. And our values and what we do, and how we deliver is really consistent across the board. And having that style guide just reiterated, that we are ... because one of the biggest things is we get asked, "Oh, do you do dot painting?" Because Aboriginal art is seen as this one. But, no, actually we are very modern. We talk about the Dr. Seuss version of being inspired by traditional, but we're actually contemporary in nature. What we do is teach people about that line between appreciation and appropriation. And this particular style guide that you guys did for us is really beautiful and it's engaging for our young people, but also for our educators. And it looks schmick for our corporates. And it has helped communicate that really well. So Aboriginal culture can evolve and be thriving in the 21st century and look as good as any other branding, is on point.

Sarah: Yeah. And that was a lot, it informed a lot of our thinking as well you know? Like, I think we see a lot of Aboriginal brands that look very crafty, but don't forget that this is serious business. And I think that by elevating… you know, obviously as a place, every brand needs to have a brand that matches the type of business that they deliver. But for you, going into these huge corporate organisations, you know, working on some really serious documents, really serious government tenders and things, you know, I think, like I said, elevating it to that idea of cultural institution was kind of where we were heading.

We also took some photos of everybody. So, I…Oh, this one is to show all the, the diversity of the work that you do because there's a lotta things that you touch. But we also took some, I thought, really lovely head…you get to look at yourself on screen, but really lovely head shots of everyone.

Cherie: Love it.

Sarah: I think another thing that we do a lot with our clients is kind of take, you know, portraits and things like that. And they make a huge difference. Did you have good response? Everybody hates photos of themselves.

Cherie: Yeah. Well, some people were like, "Oh, wish I had've been like couple of kilos lighter. But a couple of people like, "Yeah, can I get that printed large, please?" (laughs)

Sarah: Yeah. Love, love that.

Cherie: In particular, my mum, she loves her photo and she looks great.

And I think just that consistency in those colours that you had us in as well, it worked really well.

Sarah: We were able to use all the, a big part of the project was the website, we were able to use all these photos. And we did a video of Cherie as well, talking about her experience and why she started Speaking in Colour. And a big part of the website was to be able to sell things in your shop. Like this is all the technical side behind the visuals. And book courses. I think we did a lot of work and focus on, what does the training courses look like? Can we add some symbols that make it obvious, whether it's hands on or face-to-face, or online? What to expect. That kind of thing. Have you found that…Have you had feedback on the clarity around the courses and people being able to book stuff online? How have you found that kind of process?

Cherie: Often if people haven't come through the website and they call us, we are on the phone with them and we direct them to the website because it just triages. You know this is I think what, from the conversation, this is a product that you're actually particularly after. Um, if you want a description, there it is there. That's the price. Is this what you're thinking? Because most people don't have a good stipulation around their time budget. That's the biggest thing. And I say to people, if you want to actually have change in your organisation, you need to invest the time. And you need to invest time for professional development, for your team to come together to be able to navigate it. So having that information on the website, which has got the description, got those details, that's really good. And then, yeah, definitely people can book it as a group.



The other function that we've added to it is that there's individual dates where we have a minimum 10 people, tickets for a particular session, if they want to do as an in-house. Or we have a number of sessions throughout the year where they could buy two or three tickets, so if it's a small business or as individuals. Because we never want it to be unaccessible for the everyday person or for an educator where two or three of them want to do the training but the whole school doesn't. So that fits with our alignment. So sometimes we run these courses and we've only got four people in them. But we will still do that three-hour session for those people. To invest in those people. So, some people go, "Why would you still run that course?" And I'm like well, because they're interested and because they're keen. So, for us, as long as we cover our, you know, dollar hour... we, we will run it because it's important that we provide that service. So the website's allowed that to happen because often the biggest cost is the admin cost and the human error cost of, oh, what date works? What date doesn't work? So, people can just say yep, we want that product, these are a couple of dates that we can do. And we're like, yeah, if you want a group booking, we can confirm that. Or if you don't want to pay the minimum 10 people, go to this, go to this particular link and these are the two dates that you've got to choose from.

Sarah: Yeah. I'm a big fan of websites making everyone's lives easier. Like, it's all about the systems, and you can kind of, not just leave it to it. It doesn't run itself, but, like it takes a lot of the work out of it.

The last thing that I wanted to touch on was just the last bit of the branding which was, it kind of all flowed together and we did a whole lot of social media posts, and obviously social media is often how people find out about us and is connecting people. So yeah, that kind of brings everything all wrapped up in terms of what we did for the branding.


In fact, I have one little tidbit to tell you, which I haven't actually told you before.

Cherie: Oh.

Sarah: We actually did an entire presentation for you, for your brand, prior to the one we landed on, and we weren't happy, and we tore it up. And we did it again.

Cherie: Oh.

Sarah: And that doesn't always happen with projects. We often find you know... But we're, I guess I wanted to point it out because we were talking about it earlier before the show and somebody bought it up. It was like, "Oh, remember we did actually do a whole other brand and we weren't happy with it and we did it again?" So, yeah, just wanted the let you know that, you know, nothing goes... No rock goes unturned at Headjam. If there's something that we do, don't think it's good enough, we do it again.

Cherie: Fair call. Because, you know, it's a great brand and you landed on a good product, so I'm not sure what the other product was. (laughs)

Sarah: I know. Funny, I know. I thought you might say that.

Cherie: But can I see it?

Sarah: Yeah, maybe.

Cherie: Oh, I'm interested. Maybe. You'll be like, "No."

Sarah: I'll show you later.

Cherie: "That was so last decade." (laughs)

Sarah: Yeah, true, true. Last question from me is where do you see Speaking in Colour going next? What's the future for you?

Cherie: Just like starting the business, I didn't expect to and I have no idea. Because the reality is the world is changing at such a rapid pace and the younger people that are coming through in the workforce now are actually just calling it. So, we're getting, again, we're getting a lot of inquiries from corporate saying we want to do. I've got some fresh new ideas which I'm excited about. I've also gone through, and if anybody's been through business and you've had one iteration and, you know, pivoting is just an everyday occurrence in business, right? We, we totally get it. But the end of last year, I decided to close down a part of the business only because that wasn't necessary anymore. And what we're doing is we're taking all of those resources and putting them into another space and focusing in the corporate and that change management a lot more. Where that will take us, I don't know. It's up to the organisations themselves.

I would like to, we're in product development for a really cool product which will help measure, because for me, you can say you do something, but what's the measurement of that success? And then how does it align to your strategy, your opportunities, and your risk and all these sorts of things which is really important and interesting. But I'd really love for Speaking in Colour, and I think that's the essence that you guys captured in the branding, is for it to be a legacy organisation that regardless of who works for the organisation, the outcomes will still be achieved.

Last year we won Indigenous Curator of the Year at the Imagine Awards which was really cool for our annual exhibition. So, we run these exhibitions every year and it's showcasing the collaborative projects that these young people do at school, so they're wellbeing programs. We do these annual exhibitions so that they can be, they can be exhibiting artists and they can connect with the wider community, and then we take those same kids and we take them to a cultural camp. So, what it does is it builds a regional alumni. So, for me, I'm passionate about that lasting change.

So, if we're capturing teenagers and helping them feel connected and like they belong in all their lumps and bumps and shapes and we're actually creating a whole generation of people who are job ready to go into change management, but also equipping them to be young and thriving as their own little identity, you know, because that was me growing up. I had this cement ceiling on my forehead and I thought my greatest lot in life was to one day settle down and have a baby and I was, like, rebelling against it going, "Oh, surely there has to be more." But that's all I seen.

So, for Speaking in Colour, I'd love it to be a vehicle where our social impact work that we do can really be a standalone and, you know, watch this space because we're excited about that and even separating that and how that can thrive to be a legacy organisation that will thrive beyond one generation, that will have, you know, a huge impact. Like, we've had over 10,000 young people go through our programs, and I'm not even sure how many teachers we influenced or how many corporate organisations.

My focus has always been these young people and how we're making space for them to thrive.


Sarah: Well, it's all for the kids, isn't it?

Cherie: Well, yeah. 25% of their Aboriginal population is under the age of 14. And 50% of the Aboriginal population is under the age of 24. So, if we're not servicing them, who are we servicing? And I don't know if any... I don't... If you remember how awkward it was going through your teenage years anyway like, ugh-thank god we're not going through that again.

Sarah: I know. (laughs)

Cherie: However, how do we help those young people who are? And especially those people who are a little bit left of field. How do we help them find their people and where they fit? You know, we've got these entrepreneurs and innovators and people who are willing to do brave new things. So, how do we kind of wrap around them and support them in that walk, you know?

Sarah: Yeah. Gosh, Cherie if you were running the country, we'd be alright, hey? (laughs)

Cherie: No, let's not be talking that. Let's remember, working mom and a business owner. Whack.

Sarah: Yeah, you’ve got a plate full.

Cherie: My cup is full.

Sarah: Yeah. Fair, fair, fair. Hey, Cherie, thank you so much for coming in and talking to us. I genuinely love catching up with you. Thanks everybody for watching and see you next time. Bye.

Cherie: Bye.


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