Cristina Zito, Owner, Cristina for Fair Trade

With ingenuity that country people are renowned for, Cristina Zito, Owner of Cristina for Fair Trade has created not one, but two successful businesses in the very remote, tiny town of Adavale, in outback Queensland, after moving there 10 years ago. Adavale boasts a total population of 15 people, and is the gateway to the stunning Hell Hole Gorge National Park.

Elegant Emu is a destination venue Cristina created, now famous for its delicious high teas with handmade, home baked cakes, bread, biscuits, French pastries and, confectionery, served on the verandah of the historic Adavale doctor’s residence built in 1927.

Cristina started her second business Cristina for Fair Trade to support the work of female artisans in Guatemala, Maya Traditions. Unique textile handbags are handcrafted using ancient backstrap weaving techniques, in honour of the Mayan Moon Goddess Ixchel, who legend says taught the first woman to weave.

How did you create Elegant Emu as a destination venue in the middle of the outback, and what is it famous for?

With a great deal of optimism and vision. I truly believed a venue like Elegant Emu would not only be successful but was necessary in a place like Adavale. Determination and deciding that not creating Elegant Emu was absolutely not an option. And a strong desire to make real positive change in my life and community. Providing an experience that is about people, living life, fun and not just coffee.

Elegant Emu is famous for deliciousness, colour, a warm and friendly welcome, fun times, and a classic old world chandelier.

And never fear, there’s more to come as Elegant Emu evolves.

Why are you passionate about Fair Trade, and how are you supporting female artisans in Guatemala?

To me there is no excuse not to be passionate about Fair Trade. People matter, people are the world, the economy, the fabric that is what we create the world to be, and who we are as individuals. There is no way anyone can justify exploitation, disrespect or removing any person’s human rights. And anybody that does simply sux.

In the same way, they are supporting me. We are design partners working together to create beautiful handbags using ancient, highly skilled and culturally significant techniques with the desired outcomes being equal economic, social and global opportunities… And totally gorgeous handbags.

How did your trip to the Solomon Islands change how you viewed the world and the opportunities you wanted to create in life?

I came home from the Solomons believing anything is possible and the only thing stopping me was me. I had the realisation that a positive and generous outlook on life allowed me to create my own better world.

Don’t wait for opportunity to knock, you might be dancing around your living room with music at full blast and not hear. Cherish the day and take a chance.

You make French pastries like a French pastry chef and you’re a self taught handbag designer. How do you approach ideas and making them into reality?

Well, if someone has to do it and I want to, why not? Winning doesn’t always mean you came first.

I simply think of what I would like to do and go ahead, learn on the way, don’t worry about the rules, and have a good laugh when sometimes things don’t go as expected.

I care about what I do and those I am doing things for. I try my hardest and do things in a way that is enjoyable and fun, then share the results.

Your greatest challenge?

Self doubt.

Most proud of?

My meaningful relationships with my family and friends.

Advice for future female leaders?

Don’t wait, get out there and show the world what you’ve got.

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