Owner: Melrene Saloy
What is the nature of your business?
Native Diva Creations is owned and operated by Melrene Saloy. Melrene designs and creates each unique, handcrafted piece of jewelry and beadwork. Each piece is a mix of urban Native, the traditions of powwow bead work, and also street-styled inspired with a modern ﬂair.
When did you become an entrepreneur?
I never planned on becoming my own boss, but after working 13 years of retail management I was seeking independence and change. I have always loved crafting and beadwork and I decided to take my hobby to the next level. After creating a few pieces and setting up at local craft fairs I discovered that my pieces were viable and there was interest from the public in buying my product. In the fall of 2013 I established my business, Native Diva Creations.
How has your experience as an entrepreneur been so far?
Being an entrepreneur has been an amazing experience! I enjoy being my own boss and working for myself. Each piece that I create gives me pride and enthusiasm to create more. As a mother, it has provided me the opportunity to set my own hours to ensure that I have family time. My company has also provided me the opportunity to build my network which includes other entrepreneurs as well as business mentors and associates. Entrepreneurship has also provided me great opportunities in my personal development which have included attending the Treaty 7 Entrepreneurial Camp, and the YES – Youth Entrepreneur Symposium (New Relationship Trust) in Calgary 2014 and Vancouver 2015. I have also had the opportunity to speak to others about my experiences and difficulties as an entrepreneur, at Entrepreneur training sessions, as well have assisted up and coming business owners with advice and direction for setting up locally.
What are the benefits of owning your own business?
Being able to have creative independence and do something that I’m passionate are major perks to owning my own business.
Owning my own business allows me flexibility and freedom to create outside of the box. I am able to set my own hours and fluctuate how much or how little time I can dedicate to working each day, depending on the needs of tending to my young children. When I worked retail my work experience was based on the needs of the company, sometimes evenings weekends and missing out on holiday time. Now my business needs are based on the needs of my family and also the output needs of my company. Having the freedom to walk my children to school and come home and create on my own time is invaluable.
I have gained new experiences with being an entrepreneur. I have been able to meet people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, from customers to business people. I have had the ability to travel for my company. And I have had the opportunity to bring out the best in myself as a professional.
I appreciate the very hands on aspect of my business, most people just see the finished product and think that’s all there is, however there is so much more….there are many elements that go into the process for a single piece; To design I utilize colours, images and patterns for inspiration, I vary my designs per the season and create based on what I feel will look well together. I source out and purchase all the notions, materials and beading tools that I use, and I study mainstream fashion and powwow trends to help influence my designs. All of this hands-on learned experience, has given me the opportunity to become a better business owner.
What are some of the challenges do you face as a business owner?
There have been many opportunities as an entrepreneur, but there have also been a number of challenges.
One of my biggest challenges is having enough working capital for setting up at venues and buying supplies and materials. However this has prompted me to seek new funding sources and funding opportunities.
Another challenge is ensuring that I have good time management, to be able to devote to the output needs of my company. Without having the support of my spouse, I wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much as I do.
Marketing my business has also been an ongoing challenge, as I want to market my product to not only Native people, but to all ethnicities as well. And also, extending my customer base from local to global. I have had customers purchase from countries as far away as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Making enough product to keep my business well stocked can be a challenge as I am a one woman show – meaning that I make each piece myself. I have had to learn to utilize my off season as a time to bulk up on my inventory.
I have learned that each experience is its own, every time I set up at a craft fair it is different, sometimes I am able to sell a lot of my product, and sometimes I am not. Sometimes I set up and receive a new contact for a custom design piece. But I have learned to roll with the punches and take away the positive aspect of each experience.
What advice do you have for aspiring business owners?
I would tell anyone aspiring to own their own business that they must really want it and be willing to work 24/7 for it. Owning your own business is not the most easiest thing but it is the MOST rewarding. Not all people have the determination to push an idea into a reality. I would also tell them NEVER give up and NEVER take no for an answer. And make sure that you surround yourself with supportive people. But most of all Always believe in yourself even if others dont!
How can customers access your products/services?
Customers can purchase my products on my website: http://www.nativedivacreations.com/ or when I am set up at any trade shows, pow-wows, or events.
My products can be seen on my instagram: @nativedivacreations and on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nativedivacreations/?fref=nf
(Photos provided by M. Saloy)