Our Story

Mat Tetni (means Joining Hands in Collaboration in Nuer language), is the name of the Ballarat-based business founded by Mary Top and Mary Deng who migrated from South Sudan.

Mary Top and Mary Deng were born in South Sudan and spent their formative years as refugees in Ethiopia, before journeying to Australia and settling in Ballarat. Learning all too quickly how difficult it is for migrant and refugee women to find work in Australia, they began exploring the idea of establishing their own business.

Beginning with sewing lessons, followed by designing and manufacturing of aprons in their home garage, Mat Tetni soon became a cottage industry, selling aprons at local markets. Combining environmental consciousness with a passionate desire to celebrate and showcase the joyous colours of Africa, Mat Tetni aprons are skilfully crafted by teaming upcycled denim with vibrantly printed African fabrics.

Today, the business is located in a studio at the Ballarat Welcome Centre. Mat Tetni aprons are still sold at local markets, but you can now also find them on sale in Ballarat’s A Pot of Courage café, and online at Made by Many Hands. What’s more, Mary and Mary appeared in a recent episode of ABC TV’s series Movin’ to the Country (still available on iView)!

Mary and Mary aim to be able to employ other women in the future. They also dream of making enough money to be able to support needy South Sudanese children. They are proud to be able to share their Sudanese heritage in an Australian setting, and wish to inspire and empower all women by reminding them that each one of them has gifts and talents, and that anything can grow from just one idea.