Intertwining Indigenous Business with Global Commerce

Intertwining Indigenous Business with Global Commerce

The paths of Lesley Hampton, a fashion designer, and Mallory Yawnghwe, the visionary founder and CEO of Indigenous Box, intersect in a unique fusion of cultural influence and entrepreneurial prowess. These influential Indigenous women carry with them a vigor that transcends the realms of commerce and couture; they embody a profound mode of cultural narration and conservation.

In the chilly November of 2023, they convened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, during a TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators gathering. Hampton, actively engaged in the initiative, and Yawnghwe, who steered a compelling panel on the resonance of Indigenous storytelling and TikTok’s role in dismantling media barriers for Indigenous voices.

The stories of Hampton and Yawnghwe symbolize a larger shift among Indigenous entrepreneurs and creators who are seizing control of their stories and carving out a definition of triumph on their own terms. They’re dismantling archaic stereotypes, opening new doors, and most vitally, lighting the way for their communities to envision and transgress limits.

Hampton’s design ethos is a heartfelt ode to her Anishinaabe and Mohawk lineages, harmoniously woven with modern design principles. Her global upbringing led to a profound reconnection with her Indigenous identity upon her return to Canadian soil at 18.

“My aim is to channel a constructive narrative through the medium of fashion,” shares Hampton. “This is channeled through my brand which champions mental health awareness, celebrates all body types, and insists on genuine Indigenous representation.”

Her dedication is mirrored in her diverse model selection, challenging the status quo of the fashion realm. The impact is evident: her designs have graced the Golden Globes Red Carpet, made waves at Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto and strutted the runways at London Fashion Week. She also brought her vision to the Toronto Raptors for their Indigenous Heritage Month Campaign, collaborating with fellow Indigenous creatives.

Mallory Yawnghwe’s Indigenous Box is a beacon of Indigenous entrepreneurial spirit, merging commerce with cultural influence. Situated near the Edmonton International Airport, Mallory aspires to transform Edmonton into a central hub for Indigenous businesses and supply networks, fuelling the broader Indigenous economic landscape.

Reflecting a near $50 billion contribution to Canada’s GDP by Indigenous entities in 2020, as reported by Statistics Canada, Indigenous Box is an integral part of this economic fabric, linking over 300 Indigenous suppliers with clientele across 27 nations.

“Our parcels find their way across the globe… from homemade soaps to beads crafted in grandmothers’ living rooms, these artisanal works are showcased in boutiques from Paris to New Zealand,” Mallory emphasizes, underscoring the international footprint of Indigenous artisanship.

Hampton and Yawnghwe’s endeavors reach far beyond their individual business accomplishments. They are paving avenues for coming generations of Indigenous women, showcasing that it’s feasible to cherish one’s story while making substantial progress in contemporary society. Their achievements offer a beacon of aspiration and a deep sense of pride for Indigenous communities, evidencing the potency of determination, imagination, and a profound bond with ancestral roots.

The strides that Lesley Hampton and Mallory Yawnghwe are making stand as a testament to the transformative power of business when interlaced with community, heritage, and inclusivity, rewriting stories and sculpting a more just future.

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