Meet the Founder of Aruke

ADF partner Sarah Hadgkiss connects women to luxurious, Australian made sleepwear through her small business Aruke.

From her home in regional Queensland, e-commerce expert Sarah Hadgkiss connects women to luxurious, Australian made sleepwear through her small business Aruke.

Aruke Founder Sarah Hadgkiss is no stranger to the pressures of small business. A mother of three, including 2-year-old twins, and an Australian Defence Force Army spouse, Sarah ran multiple e-commerce businesses before launching Aruke in August 2019.

“When you are starting a business, you come across so many different emotions. You’ve got this big, monumental plan or project you want to create. How am I going to get from A to B? It can be really overwhelming.”

Aruke is a combination of Sarah’s children’s names and connects to her husband’s heritage in South Sudan.  

Sarah’s husband John McKuong Dhuol joined the Australian Army in October 2016. His family fled South Sudan when he was eight and spent ten years in the UNHCR Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya before emigrating to Australia. In Dinka, John’s native dialect, Aruke means “to put a piece of clothing on”.  


Sarah started Aruke on the belief that women are their best when they feel their best.  

Navigating early motherhood and life in the Australian Defence Force has helped Sarah empathise with her customers. Her focus on luxurious, quality sleepwear appeals to women looking for timeless designs and comfort amidst the challenges of everyday life.  

“Being in defence, nobody else gets it. They don’t understand the struggles that you face, how stressful it might be, the isolation, the loneliness, and then to put business on top of that, it’s a hard thing to do.”

Sarah focuses on Australian and female-founded labels like Ginia, Papinelle, and Gingerlily. Purpose-driven, Sarah also donates a portion of her sales on Aruke to charity through i=Change.


Sarah joined the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise Programme at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

“When I was in the Prince’s Trust program, it was nice to talk to people that just get it.”  
“You can get in your head with certain things and when you talk to someone else who has a similar path, they can make you feel understood, give you better ideas, expand your thinking more and it's just a nice way to connect with people”, she said.  

The free Enterprise programme is the only one of its kind in Australia and supports ex-serving and transitioning ADF members and military spouses to launch and grow small businesses.  

“When you start comparing where you were to where you are now, those little wins are kind of the best feeling.”  
“The Prince’s Trust allowed me to think outside the box and got me to think that I’m not just a sleepwear store, I can be so much more.”

Check out Aruke:  

To register for Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, visit our events page:  


The Enterprise programme is proudly sponsored by Accenture ANZ, the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Howden Group Holdings and SAAB Australia.

The Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme received grant funding from the Australian Government to support veteran owned businesses.

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government Family Support Funding Program to support Defence families into self-employment.


Prince's Trust Australia is a national charity that helps young people prepare for the rapidly changing world of work, inspires veterans and their families into entrepreneurship and self-employment, and champions resilient sustainable communities.

Our work is inspired by our Founder and President, His Majesty King Charles III, and is driven by his vision for a more sustainable future.

We also work in partnership with our colleagues across The Prince’s Trust Group, a global network of charities transforming lives and building sustainable communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and across the Commonwealth. Together, we promote, support, and inspire people and their communities to flourish.

Since 2015, Prince's Trust Australia has been inspiring veterans and their families with the confidence, skills and networks they need to explore self-employment through the Enterprise Programme.

The programme is guided by an Advisory Council, chaired by the Governor-General, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and attended by Major General Wade Stothart, Head of People Capability at Department of Defence.  


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With thanks to filmmaker Noel Smyth: