IKSOKAPI PROFILE: Devon Fiddler from Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan is an entrepreneur, and Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods Inc. SheNative Goods Inc. is a brand of handbags and accessories that gives back to empower and change perceptions of Indigenous Woman and girls. Devon has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Aboriginal Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan, and has completed numerous leadership and business programs including the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship SMARTstart Program.
Devon has a growing list of accolades including;
- 2013 Brett W. Wilson CBC Boom Box
- 2014 Mino-Bimaadiziwin Business Plan Competition
- Top ten of the 2014 SK Business Challenge
- 2015 CBC Future 40 Under 40 designation
- Nominated for New Product for the 2015 Celebrate Success SABEX Awards
- Nominee of the 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards for the Under 29 category
- Nominee for the FSIN Strength of our Women Gala for the Business category.
Most recently, Devon Fiddler was among 20 entrepreneurs who represented Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance (YEA) Summit in Istanbul, Turkey this September.
What products and/or services does SheNative.com provide?
Handbags such as our Weekender Bucket Bag and The Confidence Clutch, an oversized open clutch, T-shirts with Inspirational sayings and quotes, and other accessories such as earrings, canvas bags, and tea mugs as some of the extras that we’ve done this past year.
Where did the idea for SheNative.com come from?
SheNative was created out of my own life experiences as an Indigenous women growing up in typical conditions that many Indigenous people in Canada face, such as with racism, poverty, exposure to sexual, physical and family violence. Not only that, it is also inspired by my love and passion for fashion and exposure to entrepreneurship early in my first job out of university. Watching and seeing other Indigenous entrepreneurs fail and succeed inspired me to start a company that empowers other Indigenous women like myself. I decided to use my childhood dream as become a designed and my yearning for wanting to help other women come out of these negative experiences as I did, and do more, be more and show them that it’s in them to succeed at anything they want in life. I really wanted to show other women, like the younger me, that we don’t need to be the stereotypes that society tells us to be, and that we can create the life that we want.
What inspires your creations?
Mostly other inspiring women, being outside in nature or places that are calming. Inspiration for me comes from all types of places like Pinterest is always a good place to start, magazines help, going shopping and visiting thrift stores, looking at pieces in history books, and online museum archives.
How has your experience as an entrepreneur been so far?
It has had its up and downs. There has been slow months with not much sales, but I still stay busy doing things that I think I should be doing, when really I should be focusing on sales and growing my business more than anything. There has also be really great months full of sales, and momentum. There has been times when I’ve been stressed and reached burnout. It’s definitely not dull and boring. There’s always new opportunities popping up and sometimes it can get overwhelming if I don’t have goals set. It’s been a pretty amazing rollercoaster so far.
I’ve already won entrepreneur awards with Start-up Canada, recognized as CBC Future 40 under 40 in Saskatchewan, nominated for local awards such as the YWCA Women of distinction Awards and SABEX Awards, I’ve done a lot of travelling to be apart of panels to share my story, have participated in amazing fashion shows such as the Start-up Fashion Week and finally was one in 20 entrepreneurs selected to attend the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliances (YEA) Summit in Istanbul, Turkey this past year!!! It’s been great!
What are some of the challenges of the business?
Managing cashflow, and staff. I wanted to be my own boss, but I didn’t think I would have to be accountable to anyone else. But when you have people working for you, you need to be just as accountable to them and establish boundaries early on. Another challenge for me was saying no to things that didn’t align with both my life vision and business vision. Also knowing my own limits of what I can do and what would be too much, so delegating tasks to employees was also a challenge, because I’m a pretty hands-on person that likes to know everything and do everything. But I’ve learnt that you also can’t do everything by yourself.
What sets you apart from other businesses in the industry?
The mission of my company. It’s very specific to helping a demographic of women (Indigenous in Canada), but it’s geared to women who want to help other women. We want to create social change with our messages and quotes but also to make an impact and financial contribution without breaking the bank. We also start new initiatives with other entrepreneurs!
This past year, SheNative co-founded Her 4 Directions (currently a pilot project), a fashion incubator and design studio in Saskatoon co-founded by Indigenous women entrepreneurs and businesses; Helen Oro Designs, Marylou Mintram and Candice Atcheynam of Little Bow-tihk and Tori-lynn Wanotch of First Intimate Apparel. This new initiative was created out of a need for a supportive environment of like-minded women who want to give back to others as well.
What products are a must have this season?
In my new collection I will be creating a brand new beautiful tote bag that is in the works!!! I think people are going to love it!
How can customers get their hands on your products?
Online at www.shenative.com and at our studio called Her 4 Directions in Saskatoon, SK at 220 20th Street West.
Photos provided by D. Fiddler