lady startup

Liandra Gaykamangu and Jane Cay built successful Aussie businesses. Here’s how they did it.

Buy from the Bush
Thanks to our brand partner, Buy from the Bush

Here at Mamamia, we love a good lady startup story. Why? Well, there’s nothing more inspiring than hearing about women finding success and making a tangible difference in their community.

Take Jane Cay, Liandra Gaykamangu and Grace Brennan. All three run highly successful businesses right from rural Australia. 

Considering all their communities have been through, from droughts to pandemics, the strength and resilience of these extraordinary lady startups leave us in complete awe.

Even after launching successful businesses in their hometowns, they are still striving to give back to their communities in new and exciting ways. Both Jane and Liandra will be teaming up with Grace, PayPal and Buy From The Bush to judge a Shark Tank-style competition to give rural Australian startups a boost. 

The competition, Buy From The Bush Big Break, gives entrants the opportunity to win their share of $60,000 to boost their business. Entries have come in and the finalist shortlist is now open for you to vote for the People's Choice winner who will get $15,000 to help bring their idea to life.

Just as the Mamamia team are excited to have their say for the People's Choice Award, Jane and Liandra are thrilled to review the number of incredible entries submitted in order to find the lucky winners of first and second prize!

After all, both women understand first-hand the impact that business can have in rural communities and how much of a difference these grants could make in the lives of the potential winners. 

Liandra is a Yolngu woman from North-East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and the designer behind Liandra Swim. Her eco-conscious swimwear label beautifully fuses contemporary Aboriginal art and swimwear fashion.

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She recently spoke to Mamamia about her success and her involvement in Buy From The Bush Big Break.

After completing an English/History Teaching degree at University of Wollongong, Liandra started her business on the South Coast of New South Wales. Eventually though, she missed her family and country. About 18 months ago, she moved back to North-East Arnhem land in order to be closer to them.

Like Liandra, Jane also spent some time in the city before returning to her regional roots. When she fell in love with her now-husband, she moved to Cooma, NSW and opened a fashion boutique, Birdsnest.

When getting inspiration for Liandra Swim, Liandra credits her upbringing. She has spent most of her life in and around the ocean so it makes sense that she fused her love of the water and her connection to her culture and land in her swimwear collections. 

“Liandra Swim is an eco-conscious brand, with the fabrics made from regenerated plastics and recycled elastane.

"Each collection is hand-drawn, represents a unique story, and comes with a card delving deeper into the narrative,” she told Mamamia.

Every piece of swimwear is reversible and sold separately so they can easily be mixed and matched with other pieces in the collection. 

As the brand is entirely sustainable, each collection is limited in number making them sought after collectors' items as you won’t find them in every store. 

The line has created a huge buzz around the country and in June this year, the Summer 2021/22 collection was showcased at Australian Fashion Week.

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Jane's business also found success. Birdsnest started with a shop front in the rural township of Cooma in 2004 and opened its online store in 2008. It quickly grew to a powerhouse in online fashion employing over 140 locals in a town of only 6,500.

The shop front is still there in Cooma for anyone that might be passing through. You can pop in and get that personal touch Birdsnest is known for. “We like to think of ourselves as the matchmaker between a woman and that perfect outfit. We want to help them find something they feel comfortable and confident in,” said Jane.

She told Mamamia that “over 1 million parcels have left the Nest and every single one has a handwritten note to their customer.

“Every sale is unique and means something to the team. It takes a little bit longer to pack and wrap as it includes a handwritten note. We love writing a personal thank you note to each customer so they know their purchase is appreciated,” Jane said. 

When asked why she wanted to be involved with the Buy From The Bush Big Break competition, Jane told Mamamia, “The competition celebrates the talent, innovation and ingenuity of rural entrepreneurs. We know they are out there and I am excited to see how this competition encourages them to step into the light and be recognised for their work and potential.

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“And wouldn’t it be nice if another side effect is shifting the mindset of young people living in the bush that you don’t have to move to the city to get your ‘big break'? It was certainly something I thought at 18 when I headed off to the big smoke to study and work. I'm glad I’ve been able to prove myself wrong, and I hope we can encourage a new generation of rural dreamers to ask ‘what if?’" said Jane.

Many know Buy From The Bush and recognise the difference it has made to regional businesses. However, what many may not realise is that Buy From The Bush is a lady startup itself. 

During the 2019 droughts, Grace Brennan created an Instagram account to showcase all the beautiful products available to buy from rural communities. She also encouraged rural businesses to use the hashtag #buyfromthebush on their social posts so she could include them on her feed. 

What started as a simple Instagram account and hashtag has quickly grown into a movement creating real change in rural communities. 

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In October 2020, the Buy From The Bush marketplace, sponsored by PayPal, launched. It has quickly grown into a wonderful creative space full of things for every occasion. 

Just as the initial hashtag made a tangible difference in the lives of rural communities only two years ago, Grace knew there were other ways to galvanise rural communities. That's when she got the idea for Buy From The Bush Big Break.

"I wanted to support other big ideas from the bush and give other innovative rural businesses the chance for their 'big break'," she told Mamamia.

The inaugural Australia-wide competition aims to showcase the amazing and talented founders, entrepreneurs or people with a burning business idea across rural Australia. There is $60,000 worth of grants to be won including a $15,000 People's Choice award that the members of the Australian public can vote on. 

So, how does it work? The competition takes a leaf out of Shark Tank's book and calls for all rural and regional business owners (or anyone else that has a great business plan!) to pitch their idea to the world. 

Now that entries are closed, the judging panel (including Grace, Liandra, Jane and Finance Director at Paypal, Marco Steinhauer) will pick first and second prize, but they're handing over the power to us to decide People's Choice. All we've got to do is jump on to the Buy From The Bush website to vote and have our say. 

Considering all that our rural communities have been through, it's never been more important to support them in any way we can. And that's why Mamamia is so excited to have the opportunity to vote. 

Before we ended our chat, we had to ask Jane one question: why does living in and running a business in a rural community mean so much to her?

She summed it up perfectly: “the best bit is I get to live life in the slow lane but work in the fast lane. It is the perfect match for a country girl who ran away to the city, fell in love with a farmer and now has to drive 130km round trip to buy the milk!"

To support the legends looking for their Big Break, make sure you jump online to vote for Buy From The Bush Big Break's People's Choice Award. Voting closes 11:59pm AEST, Sunday 24th October, 2021. 

Feature Image: Instagram / @birdsnestonline / @liandraswim@buyfromthebush

Buy from the Bush
Buy From The Bush is a marketplace for Australian bush business. Think of it as your gateway to rural and regional Australia. We bring together the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers in small rural communities across Australia. We make it easy for small businesses to sell their products and for consumers to shop with purpose. We believe some of the very best makers, creators, retailers and artists live in the bush. And we want to introduce them to you in one, shoppable platform.