Because of Her, We Can Ebook Female Leader, Sandra King said, “Through my parades, programs, speeches and events, I aim to inform, inspire and empower.”
Why did you decide to start Sandra King Management in 1990?
Nearly 20 years after a successful career in modelling for stores like Myer, Sportsgirl, David Jones and numerous fashion businesses, I saw that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander models were absent in fashion parades and advertising campaigns.
It bothered me as it brought back memories of being told ‘I probably won’t get many bookings because I was Aboriginal’, after I completed my first modelling course in 1972.
If fashion businesses were not going to book our models for parades and photographic work, then I’d have to do it myself by showcasing our professionally trained models.
It didn’t take long for the models to receive bookings for fashion parades and photographic work with Myer being the first to book them for a parade!
Tell us about the moment you realised you were a positive role model and inspiration to other women in your community.
There are many moments because it involved different journeys. You never know if your journey or story is worthy of empowering or inspiring others, until you are left speechless!
In 1988 I started directing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion parades and I saw how it inspired our community while watching our models parade fashions. An Elder came up to me and commented on how inspiring I was. I was taken aback and replied ‘It’s not about me it’s about the models’. Her response was a question, ‘How many Aboriginal women do you see in the city or anywhere else, that compere fashion parades?’
In 1995, I presented my first motivational speech to Year 11/12 students. I was nervous as I have a speech impediment, but I soon felt at ease when I saw the students. Half way through my speech I changed it, as I saw some students looked just like me when I was young, so I spoke about my experiences as a young Aboriginal girl who was a stutterer, a loner and who was troubled especially in not knowing how to handle racism and peer pressure. I saw the light go on and was thanked by the teachers and support staff and encouraged to do more speeches!
In 2009, I attended the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program in Canberra. During a Question and Answer session, a woman in the audience stated ‘It is you, Sandra King, the model! My sisters and I were in awe of you. We cut your photos out of the newspapers and pasted them on our walls. My father had to buy a few newspapers every time, so we all would have your photos!’
For the same leadership program I was asked to return regularly as a Motivational Speaker. I received feedback from a participant, who was so inspired by my speech that she resigned from her work and moved to another city to start a new life. She said ‘It was the best decision she made for herself’!
Confirmation I’m okay at doing this!
How have your career and your business changed the modelling industry’s and community’s perception of Aboriginal women?
When it comes to diversity, Australian industries tend to venture forward at a snail’s pace. I feel that I along with others who coordinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion parades throughout Australia have contributed to making positive changes.
As an Aboriginal woman, I am proud that 2018 marks a 30 year history of directing and choreographing fashion parades and training models in runway and photographic work.
My community parades are designed as Leadership Programs that build the confidence of our young ones in preparing for life challenges.
Tell us about Black, Bold and Beautiful, why you started it and what impact it has.
A fond memory of mine was of my mum, my family and community aunties playing hockey and vigoro in the 50s and 60s. Times were tough but they made the most of the very little they had as they were strong, united, resilient, happy black women. They all made a positive impact on me. I wanted to do the same for our women and youth as I worked as an Indigenous Education Worker for secondary schools.
I saw more negative stories in the media regarding our people. The only positive stories were of the footballers. Female role models, even those in sport, did not rate highly. I wanted to coordinate something that inspired them.
I started the Black Bold and Beautiful (BBB) luncheons for the 2009 NAIDOC Week celebrations then in 2010, I changed the date to International Women’s Day. Different topics each year with guest speakers relating to those topics, empower, inspire and inform our women, youth and non-Indigenous women over a two course meal. I have a business women’s expo, raise funds for Bahloo Women’s Youth Shelter and I also coordinate the well-known BBB fashion parade.
I have published five BBB calendars featuring our women who faced challenges beyond their control to achieve their dreams/goals, or those who are survivors.
This year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the BBB Luncheons – the Modern Era of Women’s Business.
The National Because of Her, We Can Ebook is a tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Right across Australia there are endless examples of strong and successful Indigenous women leading the way. This Ebook shines a light on 12 of our country’s Indigenous women, including four Queenslanders, who are leading and succeeding in business. These women show the strength, resilience, hard work, creativity and intelligence that are crucial elements in business success. Their stories, journeys and the lessons learned are as diverse as they are, but all offer inspirational advice.
The Honourable Di Farmer MP
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
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