Lola Digital: The Heart of Kantesha Takai

Founded in 2019 by Kantesha Takai, Lola Digital stands as the vibrant core of her creative enterprise. Nestled on Thursday Island (TI) within the Torres Strait (Zenadth Kes), Lola Digital is a boutique creative and content agency, ingrained in culture.

Kantesha harnesses the talents of local artists and photographers from the region, while also collaborating with a network of skilled subcontractors across mainland Australia. Lola Digital creates customised marketing solutions for a diverse clientele, including public sector entities, large corporations, NGOs, and small businesses.

Kantesha is a proud Torres Strait Islander, Wuthati and a Papua New Guinea woman who is fervently dedicated to passing on her wisdom to emerging leaders.

What does Indigenous Business Month (IBM) mean to you?

From a business perspective, IBM promises a surge in activity, akin to NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week. This surge is exciting but can be quite a juggling act for a small business owner.

IBM fosters a profound sense of belonging, offering a platform for networking and celebration alongside other Indigenous businesses. It’s a reminder that we exist, and this is the impact we’re making. The exchange of knowledge and discoveries during this time is invaluable.

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” Learning about the journeys of larger businesses that started much like mine gives me hope. Running a small business can already be a lonely endeavour, and being an Indigenous business in a remote location like TI amplifies that solitude.

How does location impact your business?

Location is a game-changer. It’s not just about geographical remoteness; it’s also about the challenge of securing quality internet access. Every factor compounds—freight costs, fuel costs, insurance costs, and the cost of staying connected online.

Many people don’t realise the journey it takes just to reach Brisbane or Cairns from TI:

  1. Start with a 10-minute ferry ride to Horn Island.
  2. Then, take a bus to Horn Island airport.
  3. Fly from Horn Island to Cairns, a journey of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  4. Finally, hop on a flight from Cairns to Brisbane, a 2-hour and 15-minute flight.

This trek can stretch to over 24 hours, requiring an overnight stay in TI or Cairns and if you’re commuting from the outer islands.

Quality internet access is pivotal, given my reliance on mainland subcontractors. Despite using a combination of providers like Starlink, Skymesh, Telstra, and a Telstra booster, I often find myself hotspotting from my phone just to stay connected with clients and staff. In a digital economy, this struggle can be immensely frustrating.

TI is the hub of the Torres Strait, so I can’t help but wonder how much tougher it must be for small businesses on other islands with even fewer resources.

How long have you been in business?

I’ve been steering this ship since 2019. I am working with local talent in the region, to develop their skillset as I’d love to utilise more local subcontractors from the Torres Strait. I currently rely on mainland subcontractors when my capacity is stretched thin.

To nurture local talent, I’m investing in photographers and artists from the region. However, it can get quite lonely working solo in such a remote setting.

Once my youngest starts full-time childcare in late October 2023, I aim to employ someone from my own community and provide them with training. Sometimes, it feels like I’m on an island within an island, and it would be fantastic if this individual could eventually launch their own business.

What are the challenges of running a small business?

Constant learning is both a thrill and a source of frustration. Some assume that a marketing degree equips you to do it all, but the reality is far from it. Starting in the 2025 financial year, I’m eager to take the time to engage in strategic forward planning for my business.