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Indigenous Australian Business: Yaye, By Melissa Cole

Yaye is an Indigenous Australian business founded by visionary Melissa Cole. It’s more than an ecommerce venture—it’s a celebration of Indigenous culture and a platform for education and community empowerment. This detailed look at Yaye’s operations and Melissa’s leadership explores how this Indigenous-owned business is pioneering in the world of ecommerce.

Indigenous Australian Business

Melissa Cole: A Visionary Leader

Roots and Inspiration

Melissa Cole, from Alice Springs, embodies the spirit of her Wurrumunga and Luritja heritage. Her business, Yaye, which means “big sister” in Arrernte, honors her homeland and weaves her community’s traditions and values into every aspect of her enterprise. Melissa’s connection to her heritage drives Yaye. Growing up in Alice Springs, she saw the resilience, creativity, and unique perspectives of the Indigenous community firsthand.

Inspired by her ancestors’ strength and wisdom, Melissa created Yaye to preserve and promote Indigenous culture while uplifting her community. Like a big sister provides support and guidance, Yaye empowers Indigenous individuals and communities by creating economic opportunities and fostering cultural pride.

Melissa understands the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians. She recognizes economic empowerment as a way to combat social inequality and promote self-determination. With this knowledge, she created a business that combines modern practices with traditional knowledge and values.

Educator and Entrepreneur

Melissa’s role as an educator and business leader sets Yaye apart. Her educational background influences her business approach, using Yaye to educate customers and the broader community about Indigenous culture and history. Through Yaye, Melissa aims to break down stereotypes and foster a greater understanding of Indigenous people’s culture and history.

Yaye’s Ethos: More Than Just Products

Honoring Tradition

Every product at Yaye reflects cultural respect and commitment to tradition. From the choice of ingredients to the product names and packaging, everything honors the Indigenous origins and practices of Melissa’s community. Yaye’s products are sourced sustainably and align with the cultural values and practices of her community, supporting local Indigenous businesses and promoting the preservation of traditional knowledge and practices.

Yaye partners with local Indigenous businesses to create economic opportunities and empower Indigenous individuals. This collaboration preserves traditional knowledge and practices, ensuring their continuity. By incorporating traditional ingredients and practices, Yaye promotes and preserves Indigenous culture.

A Platform for Education

Yaye goes beyond the typical ecommerce model by serving as an educational platform. Detailed product descriptions and cultural stories provide customers with insights into the rich cultural heritage each item represents. Yaye also features a blog section that explores various aspects of Indigenous culture, from art and music to traditional practices and ceremonies.

Melissa collaborates with Indigenous artists, artisans, and community members to create diverse products. These partnerships support Indigenous businesses and give them a platform to showcase their talent to a broader audience.

Strategic Marketing with a Cultural Heart

Storytelling as Strategy

Melissa uses storytelling to enhance brand loyalty and customer engagement. By sharing the stories behind Yaye’s products, she connects emotionally with her audience and fosters a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance of her offerings.

Engagement Through Social Media

Melissa uses social media platforms like Instagram to expand her reach and engage with a global audience. Her posts feature behind-the-scenes content, customer stories, and information about Indigenous customs and celebrations.

Yaye's Signature Products

Culturally Infused Skincare

Yaye’s skincare products, like the Body Butter – White Cypress & Lily and the Body Butter – Sweet Emu Bush, blend traditional bush medicine with contemporary luxury. These products use native ingredients historically used by Indigenous Australians for their protective and healing properties.

Artisanal Body Washes

Yaye offers body washes, including the Ochre Aboriginal Body Wash and the Dreaming Aboriginal Body Wash. These washes feature ingredients like White Cypress Pine, known for its natural cleansing properties, and pay homage to ancient Aboriginal traditions.

Community Impact and Future Aspirations

Supporting Local Communities

Yaye’s success contributes to the local Indigenous community, providing economic opportunities and promoting sustainable practices. Melissa’s work helps grow the black economy, ensuring Aboriginal businesses thrive.

Vision for Reconciliation

During Reconciliation Week, Melissa advocates for deeper understanding and integration of Indigenous history and achievements into Australian consciousness. She supports educational initiatives and community involvement to promote reconciliation and cultural appreciation. Melissa believes education plays a crucial role in fostering reconciliation and supports teaching the true history of Indigenous Australians.

Melissa encourages individuals and businesses to engage with Indigenous communities, creating opportunities for meaningful connections and partnerships. Her ultimate goal is to create a society where Indigenous Australians are celebrated, respected, and honored for their contributions.

Expanding Horizons

Collaborations and Partnerships

Yaye plans to broaden its impact by partnering with other Indigenous artists and businesses, creating a network of products that celebrate and preserve Indigenous cultures.

Educational Outreach

Melissa aims to engage with schools and educational institutions to enrich the Australian curriculum with Indigenous knowledge and stories. Through workshops, presentations, and interactive activities, she aims to engage students in meaningful conversations about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.


Under Melissa’s leadership, Yaye thrives as a business and serves as a vital agent of cultural preservation and social change. Her innovative approach to blending education with commerce serves as a model for how businesses can have a profound social impact.


Yaye is distinguished by its integration of traditional Aboriginal ingredients and the cultural stories embedded in its products.

Yaye boosts the local economy through sustainable practices, employment, and supporting local Indigenous projects and businesses.

Yes, Yaye offers international shipping, allowing global customers to partake in authentic Australian Indigenous culture.

Yaye provides educational resources on its website and through social media, detailing the cultural background and traditional uses of its ingredients.

Yaye is set to expand its product line and increase its educational initiatives, aiming to foster greater appreciation and understanding of Indigenous culture worldwide.


Kelly Slessor, is an Ecommerce Coach and a digital marketing expert. Passionate about retail, hospitality and retail service providers. As the founder and CEO of Shop You, an AI powered personalised virtual shopping mall she has spent 20 years building retail technology that responds to customer needs, drives conversions and increases revenue. Over the past year she has worked with over 1000 retailers and hospitality providers. If you want discover more about digital growth and optimisation, work with me.

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