Like many businesses, Jira Models started with a vision. It was founded in 2017 by Perina Drummond, a stylist and model, to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the fashion industry.
‘Finding our own space was one of our biggest challenges,’ she says of starting the agency.‘Jira was never going to be just another talent agency, as we have a very strong cultural element to consider.’
There had been previous attempts in the past to start similar businesses. Once Jira Models found its feet, though, there was no looking back.
‘I’ve always envisioned our platform being in between the industry and Indigenous communities, so creating this new space helped us build our platform.’
Drummond, a proud Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman, now scouts talent from all over the country. When scouring for new faces, she’s not just looking for them to fulfil external requirements. She also seeks a connection to culture.
‘Our connection to culture is extremely important. It is a kinship connection that I look for when scouting talents.’
The agency itself was named from Drummond’s great great grandmother, Nara Jira Para, from Wuthathi country.
‘Most of us are from very small Indigenous communities around Australia so our achievements and profiles are magnified. It is also important our talents acknowledge and understand this responsibility that will guide and empower future generations, and change in our communities.’
In the time since launching, this change has already begun. Drummond has noticed progress in the industry when it comes to representation and opportunity for Indigenous talent.
‘There is a massive shift in model diversity in Australia, and especially more engagement and opportunities for Indigenous models. It’s a very heartwarming and exciting time!’
‘I’ve seen a lot of global brands and companies embedding diversity programs and policies into their workplace and business practice, including creating roles like Diversity Officers to drive change. I hope to see this happen in our local industry very soon.’
In terms of her current creative influences, Drummond has been living a more relaxed life this year. ‘Right now, my creative inspiration is very much intertwined with new beginnings and a deeper connection to my roots. I’ve been blessed during this COVID pandemic that I’ve gotten to spend all this time in my home community in the Torres Strait.’
She has been reconnecting with her creative roots through beading and sewing projects. There is excitement in her personal life, too, with more time spent with family and a baby on the way.
In the future, she hopes to see more and more Indigenous faces join the global fashion scene.
‘We will continue to be a voice in the industry, so that this is not a trend, but a permanent change that will continue to blossom.’
-Perina spoke to Katharine Ahern.
Tap the link to see more stories about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander models