Fourteen-year-old D’Shontéa (Téa) Devow was born into business and has grown up surrounded by it.
The daughter of Darkies Designs founder and local Indigenous business leader, Dion Devow, Téa was selling her father’s wares at stalls when she was just four years old.
Téa told Canberra Weekly she feels as though she’s “always known” she wanted to be in business.
“While I was growing up, Dad had his own business and I always tried to basically take over,” she smiled.
“My dad was the biggest inspiration for me to start.”
With his daughter constantly by his side asking to help run the ship, eventually Dion decided it was time to ease Téa into the world of business at the ripe age of 10 alongside her friend Belle.
“He got so sick of me always asking that he decided to help me make my own,” Téa smiled.
It was from there Téa & Belle was established, selling gifts and wares including T-shirts, caps, candles and wallets.
For Téa, another motivator to start the business was to spread awareness of Indigenous Australian culture on the back of having experienced racism herself.
“People try and make me be embarrassed of my Indigenous side, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.
“Nobody should be ashamed of who they are or where they come from. Through this business, it’s a way that I can really express myself.”
Dion said the business has also been a way for his daughter to learn about her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture too, with most products having an Indigenous story of some kind behind them.
“It’s not always our story or our culture, but it’s a way for us to share with Indigenous Australia and for non-indigenous Australians to take part in that,” he said.
“They all have a bit of a, not just an Indigenous, but an Australian theme to them … We wanted this to be accessible to everybody.”
Now four years into being one half of Téa & Belle, Téa said she’s keen to branch out and create her own brand that would specialise in haircare products for people with curly hair.
A local Indigenous business community leader, Dion said he was proud to see his daughter forging her own path at such a young age, with his assistance.
“I suppose it’s like any parent, if your child has interests you want to try and support them,” he said.
“It might be that she gets to a point where she goes ‘I want to go off now and do something else’, but for now she’s interested in it, so we’re doing whatever we can to help.
“I just want all of my children to pursue and be the best at whatever they want to be, and whatever their dreams and passions are, I want to support that.”
Téa was recently named a finalist in the 2021 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards. Positioned amid a field of finalists otherwise aged in their 20s, she was easily the youngest in her class.
“To see who I was up against, because there was nobody my age, everybody was like 10 years older than me, I was really surprised and happy that I was thought about for such a big award,” Téa said.
At the end of April, she attended the Gala presentation dinner in Sydney with over 400 guests. Given many of the guests were her peers, it presented a fantastic networking opportunity for her.
Téa said she took plenty away from the experience, great food aside.
“It was really good to also see other Indigenous people there in business,” she said. “I could also hear from them and see their experiences as well.”
For more news: