2019 Indigenous Business Excellence Award finalists


Cherie Thompson – Native Secrets

Cherie Thompson has a deep spiritual connection and traditional link to the Wailwan people of Central Western NSW. Cherie is married to the love of her life Phil and together they have two beautiful Girls aged 1 and 4. Cherie graduated from Charles Sturt University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Education. More recently Cherie has graduated from the Murra Business School Program with the Melbourne University and to further her education Cherie is now studying her MBA at UNSW.

Cherie is the proud co-founder of Native Secrets. Native Secrets bring traditional medicinal practices to your everyday products. We extract essential oils from wild harvested Australian natives, and transform them into the highest quality natural skincare. Native Secrets is a way to reignite old conversations and preserve generational knowledge. Along the way, they discovered a way to reinvigorate small ecosystems by managing overgrown populations of white cypress. This skincare is powerful, in more ways than one.



Raquel Manning – Blue Diamond Property Group

Raquel is a proud Indigenous Wiradjuri Wailwan woman from her maternal heritage. At present, she is involved in various Indigenous projects including Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC, Rotary Indigenous Health Scholarships and Fairfield Hospital Indigenous Garden Project.

Raquel is a business driven individual of Aboriginal heritage and has an extensive background in the Australian property industry with a career spanning more than 25 years in the building sector. Determined and experienced during this time, Raquel has acquired an extensive network of property industry professionals. It is a combination of these relationships along with her deep understanding of the property industry that makes Raquel such a valuable asset to her clients.


Kylie-Lee Bradford – Kakadu Tiny Tots

Kakadu Tiny Tots is an Indigenous owned company from Kakadu NT creating beautiful organic baby and children’s clothing that features hand painted Indigenous art and designs. Every little piece created comes with its own Dreamtime story.

The founder Kylie-lee is a proud Murrumburr women who grew up in a small aboriginal community called Patonga in the heart of Kakadu National Park, Kylie’s mum is a traditional owner of this region and a well-respected elder. Growing up in the bush is incredible but also comes with many challenges especially when trying to start an Indigenous business!

Kylie-Lee is extremely passionate about helping Indigenous women Entrepreneurs shine through her platform, as well as providing ongoing assistance and support for women as they go through their start up business journey especially those who are living in rural Aboriginal communities.



Juanita ‘Wanda’ Halden – Butterfly Realty Group (BRG)

Juanita is 40 years old, Mother to her two daughters Arna and Bonnie. Whilst attending Airlie Beach Music Festival in 2017, Juanita met her boyfriend and Angel investor Col and eight months later decided to open up Butterfly Realty Group. Being based at the kitchen table of Col’s family farm surrounding by sixty acres of bush, nestled on the banks of the Jolimont Creek, in the Mackay hinterland village of Mount Ossa, Juanita built Butterfly Realty Group from zero stock to listing almost $14 million worth of property since August 2018. Juanita sourced the support of two other family owned and operated businesses in Proserpine and Mount Ossa who have generously provided her with window displays in their shop fronts and stores. Combined with the word of mouth and social media savvy approaches to marketing, Juanita has developed a personable approach to estate agent sales and property management services with Butterfly Realty Group being recognised as an agency with ‘real people and great results’. Juanita also wears the following hats: CEO Giya/Gia Kaiyu Official Womens Business Aboriginal Corporation, Founder Diamonds, Pearls & Rural Girls Project, Secretary for Whitsunday Bald Eagles AFL over 35’s Masters Club, Event Director NAIDOC 2019 PROSERPINE event committee.



Amanda Howe – Passion Hair Beauty

One of Amanda’s mission statements is ‘You Grow I Grow”. Amanda was inspired to open her own business by this statement, building a team and work culture that everyone wanted to work in even if there not a hairdresser! To create something bigger then herself, putting jobs in her local community while building a future for herself and her family.

Amanda bought Passion Hair Beauty in 2012. The thing about coming from nothing is it makes you even more determined. Amanda has turned a non-performing business into a profitable, sustainable business. Followed by thousands, with exceptional customer service. Amanda is always thinking outside the box, motivated by nothing but creating job security for her team.



Jarin Baigent – Jarin Street

Jarin Baigent is a strong Wiradjuri woman from Sydney NSW, a mother of 3 and step mother of 3. Jarin’s family bloodlines on Wiradjuri country are in Cowra NSW. Jarin comes from a long line of strong women who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of Aboriginal people’s lives. They fought long and hard.

Jarin saw there were many artists in her community who were extremely talented yet shied away from an industry that readily exploited Aboriginal artists. Jarin chose to make a pathway for her people in the business world by creating a safe space for artists to showcase their talents and be acknowledged and paid appropriately for it.

Jarin also identified there were many non-Aboriginal allies in community who wanted to connect respectfully. And being heavily into sport and wellbeing, Jarin created an opportunity for the two worlds to connect – via yoga/movement and art.