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Article: Building our Community: Alisha Geary's Insights on Marketing from Thirsty Turtl to the CMO Show

a picture of female Indigenous cofounder with a quote about her business

Building our Community: Alisha Geary's Insights on Marketing from Thirsty Turtl to the CMO Show

Last week, Thirsty Turtl Co-founder Alisha Geary was invited to the CMO Show podcast!

Last week, Thirsty Turtl co-founder Alisha Geary was invited to chat on the CMO Show podcast, sponsored by Adobe. The conversation, hosted by Thirsty Turtl's good friends, took a fascinating turn as they delved into the topic of decolonizing marketing – how marketers can learn from First Nations perspectives to improve their work.

Alisha, with her unique background growing up between her Torres Strait Islander mother and Aboriginal father, offered valuable insights on bridging the gap between Indigenous and Western marketing approaches. "I grew up with one foot in each world... growing up in my indigenous culture, but went to schools that are embedded in western education."

We're excited to share some key takeaways from the discussion – keep reading to discover how First Nations perspectives power’s our own efforts to build the Thirsty Turtl community!

Marketing as Justification for Indigenous Businesses

Alisha highlights a challenge faced by many Indigenous entrepreneurs. Businesses built on traditional values may not align with the profit-driven Western model. This necessitates justifying their actions and explaining how success translates into positive change for their communities.

"Building businesses in the way that we're building them in this society is in a western way to achieve a western form of success, which is monetary success mostly."

"A big difference is that collectivism that comes from my indigenous culture versus the individualism that is celebrated by western culture."

"I will always build impact businesses, for example, businesses that aren't just there as vehicles to make money, but actually vehicles to make change."

"Money wasn't a thing and money can be seen as an evil thing actually that came to this country. So the way of commerce that was here before was actually trading things, always trading things."

Decolonization – Power Sharing and Storytelling

Michael sheds light on the concept of decolonization in healthcare. It involves dismantling existing power structures and creating space for First Nations communities to have a say in their well-being. A successful birthing on country program exemplifies this approach. Local knowledge, storytelling, and intermediaries bridged the gap between traditional practices and the medical establishment.

"A lot of my motivations now are very much driven by trying to help people have a voice and make sure that that voice is heard by people that need to hear it."

"People have been living on the land for 60,000 years. They've been giving birth for 60,000 years. I think they know what they're doing."

Marketing Takeaways from First Nations Perspectives

Here are key takeaways for marketers seeking to incorporate First Nations principles:

  • Slow Down and Find the Heart: Alisha emphasizes the importance of unearthing the human story behind a product or service. Consumer preference is shifting towards brands with a soul and a commitment to positive impact.
  • Community Matters: Building a brand community fosters loyalty and engagement. This aligns with the collectivist values of many First Nations cultures.
  • Co-creation and Shared Ownership: Empowering communities through co-creation and shared ownership fosters a sense of purpose and responsibility. This resonates with the concept of collaboration in Indigenous cultures.
  • Holistic Thinking: Marketers should consider the broader ecosystem and the long-term consequences of their actions. This holistic approach mirrors the traditional interconnectedness emphasized in many First Nations cultures.

"When I say I build a community around me, it's not just the audience but my partners, my collaborators, my suppliers. There's a focus there on I win, you win and that's an important value that I took over from my indigenous heritage."


Marketing that respects and incorporates First Nations perspectives can be a powerful tool for change. By fostering understanding, collaboration, and a focus on community well-being, marketers can contribute to a more equitable and sustainable future.

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