Domica Hill has one of those souls that shines bright and radiates goodness, strength and compassion.
When you speak with Domica, you walk away feeling inspired to climb higher and brave enough to tackle whatever challenge or issue you are facing.
This woman has taken the scars she has been dealt and worked hard to heal them with love and passion.
In early 2020, Domica’s life was great.
She and her husband Jarrod were excitedly expecting their first child, and she was working in her dream job – educating children.
After years of research and healing, Domica had recently connected with her Aboriginal heritage and as a teacher, she wanted to share her new-found knowledge and understanding with the wider community.
“I had started a business with one of my best friends who is a Yorta Yorta woman,” she tells salt.
“We started a cultural incursion business and went around to schools holding workshops – art workshops, history workshops, traditional Aboriginal games. The company was going well.”
Then, her world came crashing down.
“That is where everything changed for me. I fell pregnant and COVID hit, and then we found out there were some complications in the pregnancy and the baby wasn’t growing properly,” Domica recalls.
“I had her at 24 weeks. She didn’t make it. When we lost Briar, I signed the business over to my friend and I put all of my time into a healing journey. I used to think about people in these situations: ‘I don’t know how they do it’. But things do happen and somehow you get through it. Somehow you find ways to help.”
In her grief, Domica began to create. The more art she created, the more she discovered it to be a therapeutic way to heal.
“A lot of my artworks are about my journey and about losing Briar. It opened up my different passion that I didn’t have time for before.”
Domica was determined to find a way to honour Briar’s memory and so the online business Briar Blooms was born. Then, a year after the loss of their beautiful baby girl, the Hill family relocated to the Sunshine Coast, bringing with them their much-loved son Jyka, who is now 18 months old.
It was here that Domica fulfilled another dream: opening her first bricks-and-mortar Briar Blooms boutique, located in Bulcock Street, Caloundra. In this store, you will find Domica’s heart and soul – from the stunning and intricate dried-flower arrangements to original Indigenous artworks.
“After we lost Briar, we had so many flowers. They wilted away and I just wanted to have things to remember her by. I really thought that dried flowers were something that can last.
“People can gift this as a gift that will last – they don’t change, they don’t die, they still look beautiful in years to come.”
Domica’s artwork is as popular as her floral arrangements. The paintings reflect her connection with Country, her Indigenous heritage and the journey she has walked.
As a young girl, fair-skinned Domica was taught not to draw attention to her race. But as an adult, she pushed through boundaries and broke down barriers to form a connection with the rich culture that runs deep through her blood, her heart, her soul. Born in Townsville, Domica is the daughter of a Palawa woman whose parents didn’t want to acknowledge the Aboriginal race.
“My parents believed we didn’t have to tell people we were Indigenous,” she says. “My mum didn’t have pride in it. Townsville was a hard place to do that. Being a fair-skinned Aboriginal made it harder. Moving to Victoria, it was much more culturally diverse. It was easier to talk to people and get to know other Aboriginal women and Elders, to learn more about my culture.
“I still get asked at least once a week, ‘How Aboriginal are you? One-eighth?’. I never ask someone how Chinese or Italian they are. It’s such a weird question and [for someone] to think it’s okay to ask.”
As an Aboriginal Australian, Domica believes it is important to sell Aussie-made products to support the country and also educate people.
“Five years ago, I never thought I would be an artist and creating art for a living,” Domica says.
“What we’ve been through with the loss of Briar gave the inspiration for other people to have something really nice to connect to. A lot of commission works are based on their own stories. There are a lot of people connecting with me who have had miscarriages or lost people and, in a sense, they want to have a representation of their story to look at.
“It’s such a beautiful way they can remember them. I do think it’s helping other people. As a teacher I did that as well, and that’s what I feel like I’m meant to do in some form. My career path has changed a little, but I’m still helping people.
Briar Blooms is 100-per cent Aboriginal owned and located at Shop 4, 90 Bulcock Street, Caloundra. Visit briarblooms.com.au