I discovered Indigenous representation in the native food supply chain is less than 1.5% and economic benefits weren’t returning to the community. The fire in me was lit to turn the tables and show up in this space.
Meet Mel and Tara, an extraordinary Indigenous mother-daughter team sharing a common vision – to introduce Yaala Sparkling to the world.
This venture extends beyond mere beverages; it’s a celebration of heritage, a tribute to the profound link between the past and the present, and a showcase of ancient wisdom in a delightful, contemporary form.
In a market valued at $50 million, where Indigenous food products comprise less than 2%, Yaala Sparkling stands as a beacon of Indigenous ownership. Their unwavering commitment to crafting unique, wholesome beverages with real native ingredients, sourced from Indigenous wild harvesters and local farmers, underscores their dedication to tradition and innovation.
Tara, a proud Wiradjuri woman, infuses her personal and authentic passion for equity and community into the core of Yaala Sparkling. Her successful career spanning tech, media, and Indigenous affairs sectors has not only made her a business owner but also a mentor to young Indigenous students and a catalyst for reconciliation work. For Tara, this journey is a privilege – an opportunity to share her cultural heritage and stories with the world, all while supporting her community.
“I’m a proud Wiradjuri yinaa, and in my language, ‘yaala’ means ‘the present moment.’ I created Yaala Sparkling to respectfully share and bring to life the ancient flavors of our land in a modern drink for everyone to enjoy and connect over,” says Tara Croker.
Her journey commenced with the observation of non-Indigenous businesses incorporating native plant knowledge into their products. This awakening unveiled a stark statistic: Indigenous representation in the native food supply chain is less than 1.5%, and the economic benefits were not returning to the community.
Tara’s passion was ignited, and she resolved to change the status quo, saying, “The fire in me was lit to turn the tables and show up in this space.” For Tara, Blak businesses start with a collective, sustainable, and community-driven approach. “This is more than a drink – it represents participation, equity, and self-determination,” she emphasizes.
In Tara’s words, “Our approach is distinct in several ways: We prioritize high-quality ingredients and create unique flavor profiles, partnering with Indigenous wild harvesters and local farmers. We’ve also dedicated ourselves to building a robust brand identity that deeply resonates with consumers.”
She firmly believes that Yaala Sparkling stands out from the rest in the industry due to their unwavering commitment to community and sustainability. Tara emphasizes, “We take pride in being the sole Indigenous-owned sparkling water brand that uses authentic native ingredients. It’s genuinely significant to us to provide the authentic taste of Australia.”
A Story of tenacity and collaboration
One challenge I faced was entering a new industry and wanting to build the business in the right way.
When Tara Croker ventured into an entirely unfamiliar industry, she encountered a formidable obstacle. Her vision was clear: to build a business aligned with her values and mission. But the path ahead was uncharted, and Tara recognized the need for a supportive network of individuals who shared her passion and possessed the requisite skills and experience to navigate these uncharted waters.
In response to this challenge, Tara adopted a proactive strategy. She immersed herself in the vibrant community of Indigenous entrepreneurs, diligently seeking kindred spirits equally committed to the cause. Furthermore, she extended her reach to seasoned professionals who had undertaken similar ventures. To her delight, many of them were not just willing but eager to share their knowledge and expertise.
Tara’s journey stands as a resounding testament to the potent forces of networking, collaboration, and the community’s unwavering willingness to unite in support of a shared mission. Her words succinctly capture the essence of her approach: “One challenge I faced was entering a new industry and wanting to build the business in the right way.
“I needed to surround myself with people who were passionate about our mission and who had the skills and experience to help me grow my business. I overcame this by networking with other Indigenous entrepreneurs and by reaching out to people who had worked on similar projects who have been so willing to share their knowledge.”
Resilience is key
Through her entrepreneurial journey, Tara Croker has gained a profound insight that she considers among the most important lessons in her experience. “It is vital to be resilient and tenacious,” she emphasizes. Along the path to building Yaala Sparkling, Tara encountered her fair share of setbacks and challenges.
Yet, what sets her apart is her unwavering determination to persevere. For Tara, giving up is simply not an option. The ability to bounce back and stay the course, despite the obstacles, has proven to be a cornerstone of her success. It’s a lesson she now carries forward as she continues to make a meaningful impact through her business.