Oki, tansi readers,
It’s good to be back and blogging! I had the opportunity to attend a few great conferences these past few months, so I’m looking forward to bringing you a re-cap on some great entrepreneurial and business conferences you should keep an eye out for in 2017! However, today I bring you a blog post on a friend I met at one of these conferences, and the Indigenous craft show she runs with her sister. This craft show returns to Calgary for the next two weekends, and you don’t want to miss out!
Autumn Eagle Speaker and Melrene Saloy-Eagle Speaker are sisters who come from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. Both have an entrepreneurial spirit, and both enjoy giving back to the community using the skills that they have. Autumn had event planning skills and Melrene had a business mind (being the owner of Native Diva Creations), so the two worked together to create a new project. The project became the Authentically Indigenous Craft Show; this year will mark the second one that the sisters are hosting. The Authentically Indigenous Craft Show will be happening this weekend in Calgary on December 10th, from 10 am to 5 pm at the Kerby Centre Gymnasium in Downtown Calgary. Admission is $2 for adults, and free for children. There is also free parking adjacent to the building!
There will be many other Indigenous artisans and businesses showcased, and it’s a great opportunity to get any last minute Christmas or holiday gifts. I know I will be picking up a few last minute things (as I made the decision not to purchase from large corporations this Christmas and instead support only local small business). If you can’t make it this weekend, the craft show will be back the following Saturday, in the same place, with the same price for admissions, but with a few new vendors. You can check out the Facebook page here for the list of vendors and more information.
Melrene will not only be hosting the other Indigenous vendors from Calgary and surrounding areas, but she will also be set up as a vendor with Native Diva Creations. Native Diva Creations is Melrene’s brain child, and it is a small business that has had a huge impact in her market. After only 2 years, Melrene is beading full-time, and has been nominated for awards, been included in fashion shows, and even had pieces worn by attendees at the Golden Globe awards. Her unique style of traditionally inspired street-wear jewelry combines traditional beadwork with a wearable style of jewelry that include modern touches anyone can wear.
Native Diva Creations wants anyone to be able to wear their pieces, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous; by combining traditional beadwork with modern jewelry trends, Native Diva Creations opens up an aspect of our culture that has been around for millenium to a new audience. It is a style that can be dressed up or dressed down, and they are pieces that are authentically made by an Indigenous woman; her work is definitely better than the stuff you can buy in “trendy” fashion stores, likely made in a factory in a far away country. Instead of keeping her pieces only in the traditional style, Melrene believes that making more contemporary pieces allows her to stop the type-cast of tourist garb and start putting native fashions and jewelry into the mainstream. Melrene’s styles are often uniquely made, and if a style is duplicated, different colors are used – you can always be sure that your fashions from Melrene weren’t mass manufactured, and that a lot of care went into the final piece you’ll wear. Here are the pieces I have from her:
Since establishing her business, Melrene has had opportunities to speak on panels to other entrepreneurs, was nominated anonymously for a Calgary Chamber of Commerce award this year, went to Santa Fe to be included in a fashion show (she was also the first Canadian to be included in this show, and this market fit her niche well), and that is just some of what she has done this year! Native Diva Creations has really been taking off, and Melrene is often so busy from custom orders and trying to complete work to sell at craft shows, she sometimes has to turn people away. Melrene’s hardwork in making cold calls, knocking on doors and being told no is paying off, but she also attributes much of her success back to her community and the help that she has received. Her biggest drivers in her life are her two children; they have been her main inspiration to keep going and to succeed in her business goals.
After attending the Treaty 7 Young Entrepreneur Symposium, and then the Young Entrepreneur Symposium in 2014 (National Conference), Melrene started to get a sense of what she wanted to do (these are 2 great conferences I also recently attended, and will have a re-cap on). She had support from her family to quit her job in retail, and once she jumped in, Melrene realized she had more skills in business than she had initially thought, thanks to the retail industry. At first, many people thought what Native Diva Creations was all about was just a hobby; however, Melrene’s dedication to her business and her craft payed off because she stuck to it and believed in herself. To this day, the homework and research continues, as the market that Melrene is in is always changing. In order to stay ahead, Melrene seeks out information that is relevant to her business almost daily, and always tries to better understand her market. Even though Melrene didn’t win the Chamber of Commerce award this year, it did set her up with a whole new network she is looking forward to leveraging and utilizing their free training courses, so that she can better her business and pay it forward to other Indigenous entrepreneurs seeking guidance!
That is another great thing about Native Diva Creations owner – she is always looking for ways to give back as she becomes more successful. She has future goals to help even more entrepreneurs get their work out there through craft shows, as well as other projects she is still figuring out the details for. For now, Native Diva Creations is enjoying her successes to this date, and is looking at ways she can expand her business, but still ensure quality control in her pieces. You can check out her website here for her pieces that are in stock, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
Native Diva Creations would like for all women entrepreneurs to believe in yourself and don’t stop trying to achieve your goals; remember to acknowledge your accomplishments and be proud of how far you have come with your business goals, no matter how small they may seem. Nurturing relationships and not being afraid to take risks is also important; remember that competition isn’t the only way to do business. Indigenous Busy-ness also believes that this advice holds true for all entrepreneurs.