5 Indigenous Entrepreneurs We’re Celebrating this Month
“Let us find a way to belong to this time and place together. Our future, and the well-being of all our children, rests with the kind of relationships we build today.” – Chief Joseph
During the month of June, we commemorate National Indigenous History Month. We pause and take the take time to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada. Today, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This month and day are an opportunity for us to amplify, read, reflect, recognize, celebrate, support, and engage with Indigenous culture.
We’re excited to share with you some of our favourite Indigenous entrepreneurs and why we love them.
Indigenous led, women-led, and size-inclusive slow fashion
Based in Toronto and founded by Lesley Hampton in 2016, this radical clothing brand is known for creating high quality fashion, from Signature Collection items of evening wear and occasion wear to Athluxury Collection items of athletic wear and leisurewear. The majority of items are made to order to promote slow fashion. With a foundation of inclusivity and community, LESLEY HAMPTON aims to decolonize euro-centric standards in the fashion industry. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we love how LESLEY HAMPTON wants to inspire the next decade of leaders and entrepreneurs, and create space for empowerment and representation in fashion, film, and media.
Sean Rayland-Bourbar - Red Rebel Armour
Indigenous made authentic streetwear with a purpose
Founded in 2018 by Sean Raylan-Bourbar, Red Rebel Armour’s vision is to reduce recidivism by creating employment opportunities through the sales of their Indigenous made streetwear. Their sales fund their employment service, which provides on-the-job training in a culturally safe work environment. We love Red Rebel Armour because they are actively creating change to allow their relatives to return back to the community where they provide value and the power to transform lives, families and communities. Red Rebel Armour is the prime example of a brand rooted in purpose.
Jenn Harper - Cheekbone Beauty
Paving the way in the beauty industry
Established in 2016 out of St. Catherine’s, Ontario by Jenn Harper, Cheekbone Beauty forges the path to true sustainability in line with the teachings in our Indigenous roots, creating a perfect circular economy in the cosmetics space. In nature, everything is used and recycled and repurposed. For Cheekbone Beauty, their vision is to be Sustainable by Nature. Cheekbone culture and tone is based on an Indigenous worldview: their customers are their community; everyone gathers in circles to share what they have. Cheekbone Beauty has also leveraged social media to do this so they can learn about the products communities want to see in the world. We love Cheekbone Beauty because their work allows Indigenous youth to see themselves in the beauty industry.
Contemporary accessory designer, fashion designer, tailor, and craftsperson
Warren Steven Scott is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, whose territory is located in the interior of present-day British Columbia, with Sts’ailes and British ancestry. Scott quickly left his horticultural studies at his local college to pursue an education and career in fashion. Scott’s collections have bridged the Western concept of luxury fashion with his ancestral worldview on ethics, craft, and aesthetic sensibility, representing a distinct contribution to Canadian fashion. We love Warren Steven Scott for his creativity, passion, and unique and timeless approach to his creations.
A commitment to bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples
Hunter Cardinal is the Co-Founder and Director of Story at Naheyawin, which offers sustainable, practical, Indigenous-based solutions for the improvement of diversity and inclusion in businesses through interactive workshop sessions, equity audits, and public engagement design and facilitation. Beyond his day job, he is an actor and Indigenous myth-architect. When he isn't welcoming people into ancient worldviews and ways of being, Hunter can be found connecting with his culture in ceremony or adapting his favourite songs to the mandolin. We love Hunter Cardinal as he is committed to serving as the bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
These entrepreneurs and businesses are just a few of our favourites that we wanted to highlight. We’re inspired by the passion and resilience of these founders that led them to translate their creativity into thriving businesses.
What other Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses inspire you?
(Photo description: The eagle to represent First Nations. The narwhal to represent Inuit. The violin to represent Métis.)