Indigenous craft kits help more people learn skills, say Manitoba entrepreneurs

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Two native Manitoba women started businesses helping people learn skills like beadwork while learning about their traditions.

Shawna Spence recently started making and selling bead kits online. First Nation member Peguis, who lives in Winnipeg, said she has started making them to help more people learn the trade.

“I got a lot of requests from people who wanted me to bead for them, be it earrings or badges, but I work full time and have kids so I don’t have a lot of money. time to bead. others, ”she said.

Spence first tried beading about 15 years ago with only verbal instructions, and said it didn’t go well. However, when the pandemic started, she tried again, this time using online tutorials.

“There was a lot of trial and error,” said Spence.

“I bought some beads, but didn’t know how to use them, so I had to go back and try different beads.”

This process has also become expensive, she said.

Spence plans to create smaller bead kits that are more economical for beginner beading and hopes to provide tutorials for his customers.

“It can get so overwhelming, there is so much going on now,” she said.

“I want to give them a step by step tutorial, so they don’t have to spend so much time looking for certain videos.”

Brittany Stoppel and her two children walk around in their handmade mukluks. (Submitted by Brittany Stoppel)

Moccasin Kits

About six years ago, a Métis woman from Winnipeg created moccasin and mukluk making kits to help others learn the technique and learn more about her culture.

Brittany Stoppel discovered her Métis roots as an adult.

“On my mother’s side, her father was mixed race and he hid the culture from her and was ashamed of it,” she said.

“So we grew up knowing nothing at all, until I was in my early twenties.”

Stoppel started selling her own work in 2015 and morphed into selling online kits with a tutorial so she could teach others who might not have access to the classes in person.

A moccasin designed by a Brittany Stoppel client. (Submitted by Brittany Stoppel)

She now sells around 50-200 kits per month and had to stop custom orders because she was too busy.

Stacey Burridge, one of Stoppel’s clients, loved the idea of ​​being able to support Indigenous artists while learning something new.

The non-native Calgary woman also came to appreciate how delicate beadwork can be and the skills required.

“I’m trying to make a snowflake, and I thought it would be a very easy pattern because it’s just straight lines, but putting the beads flat on the leather just didn’t work at all,” he said. she declared.

The start of Stacey Burridge’s snowflake beadwork. (Submitted by Stacey Burridge)

Burridge contacted online where she found Stoppel’s work and found help.

“The learning is a lot more complex and a lot more knowledge than I initially thought,” she said.

“The other people on the site started to reach out and offer advice and suggest things that might help.”

Stoppel said she is grateful when non-Indigenous people take the time to learn and respect the craft.

“It is a culture that you want to keep sacred and share, and of which you are proud,” she said.

“But I think it’s beautiful when someone else appreciates it. As long as they don’t sell the item and just admire the culture and the artwork, I think it’s is beautiful.”

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