Pandemic motivates mother of 4 to start printing business with her kids
Designs incorporate Plains Cree as 'a fun way to learn,' says Tiffany Carrier
When Tiffany Carrier decided to leave her job in finance to stay home with her children during the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew she wanted to combine her love of language and her business training.
"My intent is to inspire others with the Plains Cree language," said Carrier.
The 38-year-old mother of four from the Piapot First Nation in southern Saskatchewan decided to start a printing business with her teenaged children out of their home.
"I am showing them how hard work does pay off, to show them that when you do something and complete it, that victory you feel that is the reward," she said.
"I'm trying to instill in them that positive framework brings good things in life."
The business began with making hoodies and T-shirts and has expanded to travel mugs and face masks.
The family shares a love for their culture so each product uses simple Cree phrases such as:
- Sâkihtaw Ki-pìmatisiwin: Love your life
- Kìyam: Let it be
- Ahâm mâka: Let's go
She often includes Cree syllabics within her imagery — characters and symbols that are used to write several Cree dialects that include Woodland, Swampy, Moose and Eastern Cree. Carrier uses Plains Cree, also called the Y dialect, on her products.
The company name Newo Designs comes from the Cree word newo (NAY-woh) which means four.
"I have four children and four is a significant number within the Indigenous medicine wheel," said Carrier.
"Four is a sacred number. We were looking at other names but that is the one that stuck with me the most."
Influenced by her grandmother, who was a Cree language teacher, Carrier said she wants to instill the teachings she has received from her elders and family into her children.
"I want to inspire youth to use their language," said Carrier.
"It is a fun way to learn to have that visual in front of you, even if it's just a hoodie or something as simple as a mug."
Learning and working as a family
Carrier said she loves what she's doing and oftentimes the long nights don't feel like work.
"I had no idea about sublimation printing and was learning as I went. There were a lot of tests, trials and late nights trying to figure out the printing," said Carrier.
The family's workspace is in a corner of the basement, with enough room to do processing and shipping. After investing in a quality printer, Carrier said profits are put back into the business and to helping to pay the household bills.
"Being able to create something that someone else is going to love, that is what makes me happy and more passionate about life," she said.
The family endeavour has now expanded to include her father and grandparents, who help with product marketing by modelling her clothing and products.
Her children's knowledge of social media helped them open up Instagram, Facebook and TikTok accounts to share her products with a wider audience.
Kaleigh Forbes is a customer from Huntsville, Ont., who noticed the family's TikTok videos. What began as a purchase for Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 has brought Forbes back to Newo Designs' website for other apparel.
"I am adopted but I know that I have Ojibway roots within me," said Forbes.
"I found her on TikTok and also bought a hoodie that says 'Light skinned but still Indigenous.' I love to support the Indigenous community."
Forbes said she she is planning on buying more items for her family.