Melissa Greenwood and Laureen Jarrett’s story is one of great success, so we had to share it. This mother-daughter duo is truly inspiring and has captured our hearts. Melissa and Lauren are proud indigenous women who have not only overcome great difficulties but are also building a successful brand that is combating the intergenerational trauma caused by The Lost Generation abuse. Trauma requires deep healing and a significant amount of love to be overcome, and that’s precisely what Melissa Greenwood is sharing with her mum, Lauren Jarett. No one can truly understand an individual’s pain unless they have experienced it themselves. Melissa and Lauren have risen above this and shown that the power of love, belief, and culture can not only heal but also bring about great success. A healing journey can help mend hearts and minds and educate others. With healing as their focus, they have built a brand that has become a recognised force in Australia.
Miimi and Jiinda, which means ‘mother’ and ‘sister’ in Gumbaynggirr, is the brand captivating Australia’s consumer markets, including homewares, art, clothing, and more. Collaborations with iconic Australian brands such as Adairs, SEED, and Jurlique have further amplified their reach and promoted Indigenous art on a larger scale. Recognition on Channel 9’s “The Block” has also served as a testament to the brand’s unique vision and artistic prowess. However, before the inception of Miimi and Jiinda, Melissa dedicated her career to supporting the Indigenous community. For over 11 years, she worked across various roles managing National Indigenous programs aimed at reducing suicide in Aboriginal communities and leading Indigenous youth programs that helped build self-esteem, self-awareness, and other life skills. Melissa also carried out casework with Stolen Generation survivors, which was both rewarding and challenging.
Getting to where they are now wasn’t easy. Melissa was forced to leave home at 15, putting herself through high school and university while working three hospitality jobs to support herself. Fast forward to 2018 when she started Miimi and Jiinda. Melissa had her baby boy with her beautiful partner Abe, and at this time, Lauren, Melissa’s mum, came to live with them. Lauren was suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being in an orphanage for nine years of her life, where she experienced mistreatment due to the stolen generation. Melissa was determined to build her mum’s confidence and show her how much she had to offer the world. Little did she know that in doing so, she was also healing herself.
Some of you may ask, what is the ‘stolen generation’? It refers to the period between 1910 and 1970 when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families. This policy, carried out by Australian federal and state government agencies and church missions, aimed at assimilation. It resulted in the separation of First Nations children from their families, with the belief in white superiority and black inferiority at its core. These children were taken away, prohibited from speaking their native languages or using their given names, and compelled to adopt white culture. Many suffered neglect and abuse in institutions or were adopted by white families, enduring domestic labour. The repercussions of this policy caused immense intergenerational grief and trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, leading to long-lasting effects still felt today. The forced removal of children disrupted the transfer of knowledge and oral traditions, resulting in a devastating loss of deep cultural knowledge. Many Stolen Generation children experienced severe physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. They were coerced into rejecting their culture and often felt ashamed of their heritage. Some were falsely informed that their biological parents had abandoned them or passed away, and they were sent far away from their original homelands, making it difficult to trace their families. The intergenerational trauma experienced by the First Nations people affected by this policy has led to high rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Additionally, the separation of parent and child resulted in many individuals never experiencing healthy family dynamics.
The founding of Miimi and Jiinda marked the beginning of a beautiful healing journey for both Melissa and her mother, who suffered from the mistreatment and impact of the Stolen Generation. Drawing inspiration from their Indigenous heritage and personal experiences, they created unique and meaningful art pieces that served as a medium for cultural expression and storytelling. Melissa’s talents as an artist, writer, illustrator, and designer, combined with Lauren’s background in design and textiles, allowed them to translate their hand-painted artworks onto sustainable, high-quality clothing and other products. Melissa has also written a children’s book, and they are launching their own women’s fashion collection called Burraaba, meaning “unearth.” This range will be available for pre-order later this year.
Miimi and Jiinda’s core values have always centred around blak governance and uplifting Aboriginal voices. The brand consistently employs Aboriginal staff, fostering cross-cultural learning and deepening the understanding of Aboriginal culture, values, and protocols. By collaborating with Indigenous artists and craftspeople, the brand ensures ethical practices and promotes cultural preservation. Moreover, Melissa and Lauren actively advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental sustainability, using their platform to raise awareness and share their experiences as First Nations women.
Melissa and Lauren’s journey has been extraordinary. Their dedication to preserving cultural heritage, empowering Indigenous communities, and promoting sustainable practices set a remarkable example for the fashion and art industry. Through their brand, they strive to bridge cultural gaps, inspire others, and foster a deeper appreciation for Indigenous art and design. It all stems from their deep desire to heal together.