Over the last 10 years, many Indigenous designers and artisans have gone from running small side businesses to operating online boutiques through social-media platforms.
At one time they were artists struggling to get recognition beyond their home communities but are now entrepreneurs who sell their wares internationally whether they only produce an item a week or host huge online sales.
Having major events like Indigenous Fashion Week in cities like Toronto and Vancouver has created a high-end market for Canada’s Indigenous designers. It gives them a platform to exhibit apparel that incorporates traditional designs, shapes, patterns, embroidery, beadwork and symbols to world markets.
From across the country, here are some fanciful goods that can become yours with an online click and the magic of fast shipping.
Starting with one of Eeyou Istchee’s most treasured multimedia artists, Natasia Mukash always has something spectacular and handmade for sale that reveal her traditional influences, be it her paintings, home décor or beaded earrings.
Mukash said that this year she has been very busy with her visual art and beadwork and has both available on her Instagram.
She also has wall hangings and prints available on her Society 6 website that features her textile and home-wear designs.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Jade Mukash has some very fine holiday décor for sale on her Facebook page. Featuring beautifully hand-painted Christmas tree balls, Mukash has created a stunning Eeyou Istchee winter scene with an orange sky on the balls, which go for $30 each (plus shipping) or four balls for $100 ($25 shipping). Mukash also has lovely painted wood panels depicting winter scenes that are available for $50.
Another source for colourful Christmas cheer from Eeyou Istchee is Chisasibi’s Ouwah Store. This year, the shop started making fur pom-pom Christmas tree ornaments. They are made from remainder fur, which they also sell to crafts and clothing makers. Available in white, cream, grey, purple and royal blue, these fluffy fur balls make an adorable addition to any Christmas tree. The store also sells all kinds of jackets, hats, coats, sewing machines and craft supplies, and ships to all the communities.
A portal to Indigenous artwork by artists throughout Quebec and Canada, the Ashukan Cultural Space features a wide variety of work and designs by major artists as well as fabulous products from artisans, writers, clothing designers and musicians who are there to be discovered. Ashukan sells products online and in store and features everything from high-end paintings to stunning garments from famed Haida designer Dorothy Grant. Garment wise, there are all kinds of spectacular Jay Soule t-shirts, fit for anyone who supports Indigenous empowerment. Plus, there are cosmetics, books, culinary products and handmade crafts.
For handmade artisanal cosmetics, Sequoia is a Mohawk-owned cosmetics company that draws inspiration from Indigenous legends to produce spectacular scents from locally sourced materials. Featuring soaps, scrubs, lotions, incense and fragrance oils, Sequoia has been around for over 15 years and is the perfect place to find a gift or to treat yourself.
Offering modern clothing from an Indigenous-owned company, Tammy Beauvais has been producing new collections year after year. These include everything from ribbon shirts and skirts, leather goods, as well as decorative sweats and leggings for those who want to show their pride at the gym or on a run. Drawing inspiration from beadwork and incorporating medicine wheels, feathers, dream catchers and powwow-inspired prints, Beauvais has glorious creations available on her website for both him and her. Featuring her own designs and the work of other local artisans, Beauvais’ new website has garments with Navaho designs, political t-shirts, house-wear and accessories.
Whether you are looking to shop for Indigenous apparel, beadwork jewelry, moccasins, jackets, mukluks, bags, baby clothes, coffee mugs, hats, scarfs, shawls or any other kind of gift, Beaded Dreams in Ottawa offers an unbeatable stock. This place stocks everything you need to make crafts that you might not find locally. With its large selection of beads, clasps and design tools, this Indigenous-owned shop is an ideal place to find a gift for someone to make crafts or to buy supplies to craft gifts for your loved ones.
For jewelry that uses traditional designs, bone, beads and metals, turn to Yellowknife artist Naomi Bourque. She has a collection that is both avant-garde and steeped in tradition. Blending traditional styles with modern convention, her jewelry ranges from the stark and bold to the textured and ornate. Ideal for any Indigenous fashionista, Bourque offers a variety of one-of-a-kind delights.