Nangoons Wabegijig struggled with eczema her entire life due to sensitive skin. When she was on maternity leave with her son, Liam, Nangoons decided to make the best use of the time to experiment with natural products to prepare body care products. This led to the founding of Ojibway Natural.
From Maternity to Creativity
Nangoons Wabegijig is an Anishinaabe from the Ketegaunseebee (Garden River) First Nation. She started her business, Ojibway Natural, four years ago while on maternity leave with her son. She was looking to start a business that would allow her to stay and work at home, ensuring that she spent quality time with her family while making a livelihood for herself.
Her sensitive skin issues helped her narrow down the business niche to skin care products that made natural products more accessible to the general public. Once she understood the benefit of the products in her routine skincare regime, she felt good about using them and found fun in making them.
This is how the multi-media artist with skills ranging from painting to sketching and jewelry decided to use her maternity leave and start a business. Soon her friends and family took notice of her natural home and body products, which gave her the confidence to expand her product line.
The owner/operator of bath and body care company Ojibway Natural lives on the Goulais River, just outside Sault Ste Marie. The skincare line that started as a remedy for personal skincare issues has grown into a full-time job for Wabegijig.
The Homemade and the Natural
Ojibway Natural is an Indigenous-Woman-run business based out of Northern Ontario. They specialize in handmade home and body products and are passionate about providing an affordable, natural option for everyday use.
For the past four years, Nangoons has successfully worked in the business industry, selling her all-natural care products. The line of products, which originally included soaps, lip balm, and sugar scrubs, has expanded to include bath bombs, soy candles, wax melts, oils, mists, and gift sets. These are handmade, infused with medicine scents like sage, cedar, and sweetgrass, and packaged with care.
They keep their ingredient list short and add no unnecessary colors or additives, making easy-lathering Ojibway Natural Soaps. She also ensures that all her products are gentle on the skin and suitable for people who are sensitive to scents. To ensure that their goods have more benefits for their clients than drawbacks, Nangoons avoid using ingredients and including components that she previously found irritating.
Incorporating the Cultural Identity
When starting her business, Nangoons was particular that, along with a business that helps her support her family, it should be a socially responsible enterprise that gives back to the community. She stood by her word and regularly donated products and giveaways. She collaborates with nonprofit groups to recognize volunteers or raise money for their causes.
The Indigenous identity and culture are well incorporated into the Ojibway Natural products. For example, Nangoon uses her medicine fragrances as a medium to start conversations about Indigenous medicine with non-Indigenous people and other Indigenous people on the proper use of medicines and traditions.
Nangoons also share Indigenous knowledge through platforms like workshops and demonstrations, setting up vendors’ tables at festivals, and participating in powwows. These events also become platforms for Nangoons to sell her products. Unfortunately, the gatherings were affected by the COVID pandemic, which led Nangoons to move her business operations and focus on online platforms like her website and social media.
Last year, Nangoons Wabegijig opened a “Little Green Garden” dispensary at Garden River First Nation, where all Ojibway Natural products are available in the store.
Nangoons Wabegijig credits her son Liam with inspiring her to start Ojibway Natural, which has allowed her to spend her days with him while building a successful business that supports her family.
Ojibway Natural is an all-natural essential skincare collection for fabulous skin. To know more about their products, visit their website at https://ojibwaynatural.com/.
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