Maggie McGowan is the business brain behind Magpie Goose, the funky fashion label sporting colourful prints and original designs from Aboriginal artists in Katherine, in the Northern Territory.
Creating employment opportunities for these artists is the inspiration behind Magpie Goose, after Maggie spent time as a Civil Lawyer for NAAJA (North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency). Much of her work dealt with legal issues stemming from the rigid welfare system. These Indigenous Australians had their economic rights taken away from them, with few creative opportunities offered.
Maggie’s business provides the infrastructure to share and celebrate the work of Aboriginal artists in an accessible way, that creates economic and personal development opportunities for the artists involved. To do this, she needs maths.
“I think starting a business has really switched me back to maths. I need to work out profit margins, budgeting, how much stuff costs, find the best resources, or cost out production.”
Above: Phelecia Daylight in the Injalak Wakih prawn print.
Maggie didn’t love maths at school, but finds the two experiences to be vastly different. Rather than sketching out equations in her workbook, she’s creating spreadsheets to map out efficient use of fabric, or tallying the cost of buttons and zippers against a profit margin. She’s using the skills she learnt in maths, reframed to address the bigger picture of the business.
“Learning maths at school laid the basis for most of the stuff I have to do now, it just now has more practical relevance.”
She’s also a big believer in combining your STEM skills with your absolute passion, to create unique jobs that bridge areas like maths and fashion.
“I think that traditional jobs are on the way out. Studying law meant I was equipped to try other things, and use the skills i learned through Law in a whole new way.
“I think entrepreneurship is the way of the future – people thinking creatively to address complex issues. We need all the STEM people we can get in the world of entrepreneurs! STEM skills are so necessary to fully understanding the world, and running any sort of business.”
Maggie’s pathway to Magpie Goose
> > Bachelor of Arts/Law, University of Melbourne
> > Civil lawyer, NAAJA
> > Founder, Magpie Goose
“Magpie Goose’s aims are twofold: to share and celebrate Aboriginal art, stories and culture through fashion, while creating economic and enterprise learning opportunities for Aboriginal people in remote Australia.”
Above: Winnie Duncan (left) and Maggie McGowan modelling Magpie Goose.
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.