Arkin Mackay with her Do Rags head bands.
Arkin Mackay with her Do Rags head bands. Renee Albrecht

Getting your 'Do Rags' on

ARKIN Mackay discovered 'Do Rags' completely by accident.

"It started as a bit of a hobby and a way to make some pocket money,” she said.

"I'd seen something similar but mine are longer and wider. I was having what I call a bad hair year,” she laughed.

Arkin, a graphic artist and accomplished illustrator started going to markets and street fairs with some of her illustrations. Soon after, she made a couple of the Do Rags and took them to the markets. What followed next took her by complete surprise.

"I took a few with me, and soon I had sold out,” the Gympie paramedic said.

"It was such an exciting experience, it made sense to run with it.”

Arkin's hair accessories are brightly coloured head scarves with a wire stiffener allowing them to be easily worn and adjusted to fit and everyone just loves them.

"Bad hair days don't discriminate,” she said.

All sorts of people buy her product, including chemotherapy patients, doctors, nurses and hospital staff, children, older people and young local hipsters, one of whom has apparently more than 30 in her collection.

Arkin says there are fabrics and patterns to appeal to all, with the Wonder Woman and other fun designs particularly popular with nurses and hospital workers and she herself likes to wear more subdued denim or navy coloured Do Rags when she heads off to work for the Queensland Ambulance Service.

Now, she doesn't have a lot of time to do her illustrations because Do Rags are keeping her, her mum and Arkin's partner Kim incredibly busy.

It's a real family business because while Arkin works in her former art studio sewing the brightly coloured fabrics, her mum uses an old treadle sewing machine to help meet demand and Kim mans the steam-iron.

Recently Arkin received a scholarship for the Women's Business School. The scholarship will help her to grow her business, and the online program is something she is really looking forward to completing.

"At the end of the scholarship I hope to have a solid business model in place. It's helping me feel more confident in what's happening with the business,” she said.

Arkin is keen to keep the business in Gympie as well.

"I love Gympie. It's small enough to get a sense of community but not so small you feel isolated. There's enough facilities and services here so we can do it locally. I feel pretty strongly about manufacturing here,” she said.

Sadly there is not a big enough range of fabrics made in Australia so she has to source that elsewhere.

"But the balance of all the other products that go into it are Australian,” she said.

Now, with her sights set on the future, Arkin is thinking seriously about branching into other hair products.

"I'd like to look at other hair products, like scrub-caps, turban and wraps,” she said.