My name is Maria Alejandra Valenzuela and I am from Chile. My family and I arrived in Australia in 2011. Initially, I kept busy taking care of Catalina, my only child. During this time, my English was poor and I couldn’t get a job.
I tried to sell my jewellery in different markets around Melbourne, but this task was too complicated for me at that time.
Then I started to clean some houses near where Catalina went to school. I did this for a year. I then got Australian residency and started to study English at Holmesglen TAFE. Eventually, I found SisterWorks.
My life changed because learning English is so important to improving my life in this country. Through SisterWorks, I found more, and better opportunities for my family and me.
SisterWorks has helped me make connections and work with people who have helped me in different ways. I have had access to business workshops, design labs and relevant information—all of which has greatly improved my life. Also, I have created my own jewellery brand called KELKAY, which means “necklace” in an indigenous Chilean language.
I am so happy and independent now, and I want to say thanks to SisterWorks for this big change—to make me an entrepreneur and an empowered woman.
With the birth of my son Ian in November 2015, I certainly have had a busy year. Instead of frequenting markets to sell my jewellery, I have recently focused on online marketing using my website and Instagram. I photograph everything myself, and use this medium to promote my products as well as SisterWorks.
I now also stock my products in local homeware, interior design and gift shops around Melbourne. Additionally I run jewellery making and design workshops for youngsters from home, as well as workshops for women at the Flemington Community Centre, among other places.
I have launched my new Wire Collection, with similar techniques as my previous designs, but this time utilising wire, stone and glass.
I am able to bring in my son Ian as a little helper when I work in the Sisterworks shopfront in Richmond, so come in and say hi!