Laurinda and Fatuma

Proud Victorian

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I’m Laurinda, I’m Fatuma, we’re Victorian and proud of it.

We’re sisters and we migrated from Angola and we’ve lived in Melbourne in the western suburbs for all our lives.

(F): We really loved growing up in Altona, it was a very kind of multicultural hub. Our school that we went to as well really embraced culture. Our teachers were, they really kind of knew that we were a bit different and they kind of made sure, yeah, that we didn’t feel too different, yeah there were times where we definitely had those moments,most of it was people being – (L: pretty positive) really curious and saying like where are you guys from oryour hair feels different or you look different, but we loved it at the same time.

L: We have a clothing label named Collective Closets it started out basically I guess for a love of fashion but also a love of being able to incorporate our dual backgrounds and our two cultures, being African-Australian it’s really important for us to be able to have a locally made business while it’s also created a real family environment so our manufacturers are just half an hour down the road and so far as our pattern maker Ken as well it’s like a family for us so he also works locally just out in Altona Meadows, so we’re really lucky to have a community of people that we work with.

We’ve been really blessed to be able to have such a strong community of women that do follow us and there’s been many collaborations that we’ve done that really also focus on working with other women. We’re actually doing a project called Carry On which actually focuses on domestic violence but also looking back at contributing to a domestic violence centre that’s actually based here in Fitzroy so we’re really excited to be able to engage with our community and the community around us.

For us we’ve always felt part of the community because our mum, and our family really also pushed for us to be part of a community, so it meant playing sports, it meant you know taking swimming classes and also getting to know the people around you. Some of the advice that we would give to someone that’s coming to Victoria would be finding a way to be able to contribute within the community by even something small like getting to know the neighbours getting to know what’s happening within your suburb it’s really part of feeling part of a community and belonging as well.

F: Yeah and really embracing living in Victoria to be honest.

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