With a common goal, Chris Schmid and Reen Richards created a purpose-led business to support Aboriginal communities, paving the way for their business success.
This shared purpose has enabled Chris and Reen to build a thriving business, manufacturing and supplying environmentally responsible cleaning products and related consumables through their company Woollahra.
Based on an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting place’, Woollahra is wholly Aboriginal owned and lives up to its name in bringing the community, corporate and business partners together to make better decisions.
“We are a little bit different in the way that we create partnerships as our business opportunities eventuate. So those partnerships either tie right back to the Traditional Owners themselves in terms of a joint venture or a strategic partner, or are with organisations that support the Indigenous population, like school education, health or other forms of social enterprise.”
As an industry leader in the provision of environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals, Woollahra works closely with the mining and civil construction sectors, and enjoys strong and mutually beneficial relationships with its suppliers, resulting in improved outcomes for Aboriginal community.
For example, a percentage from the sale of every Woollahra chemical product is redistributed through the company’s community initiatives, supporting Indigenous programs while engaging community partners. Their ‘Helping Community and Country’ model is unique in that the percentage of proceeds is transparent and based on sales (not profit), ensuring that their community partners are appropriately remunerated.
What NAIDOC Week means to Woollahra
“NAIDOC Week is always a time of reflection for me, on what's happened in the past and what is now” said Chris.
The team recognises that more and more, businesses are increasingly open to new ideas and ways to do business, feeding into Chris’ idea of reflection.
“For me that really gets to what NAIDOC Week means – reconciling, coming together and ultimately providing opportunity, and connecting it back through community and environments, and all of those things now having a seat at the table.”
Chris’ tips for working with Indigenous communities
Chris believes that communities are very open to engaging with any opportunity that presents itself.
“It’s important to be willing to put yourself out there, really engage with the community and be open and transparent, ” he said.
From a small business perspective, Chris recommends building a strong reputation and acting on any commitments you make, especially when it comes to financial commitments.
“You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you can’t deliver on what you’ve promised,” he said. Woollahra continues to meet and exceed its promises, innovating and growing, and has recently celebrated a new partnership with a leading Australian iron ore company.