Indigenous

'A long time coming': SheNative Goods opens new storefront in Saskatoon

Indigenous clothing company SheNative Goods has opened a new flagship store at 714A 2nd Avenue North in Saskatoon.

Indigenous women-run company sells clothing and offers workshops for entrepreneurs

SheNative Goods had the grand opening of its first permanent storefront in Saskatoon on June 1. (Tori-Lynn Wanotch )

As a child, she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and now Devon Fiddler is opening her first permanent storefront for her clothing line, SheNative Goods, in Saskatoon.

Fiddler, 31, founded the clothing company in 2014 and previously had only had short term lease agreements or pop-up shops in places like Midtown Plaza, Saskatoon's downtown shopping centre, and the Centre Mall, located on Saskatoon's east side, as well as an online presence.

"It has been a long time coming," said Fiddler of her new digs at 714A 2nd Avenue North.

"I was pretty stoked when I got the keys but I also knew it was going to be a lot of work to put into building this base, and making it look beautiful and really making it reflect the SheNative brand."

The shop offers their line of T-shirts, hoodies, accessories and leather bags. Fiddler said she is proud her shop can offer clothing for all shapes and sizes.

The business prides itself on being fully operated by Indigenous women with a mandate to lead by example to inspire other Indigenous women to pursue their own dreams.

Owner and founder Devon Fiddler and co-worker Tori-Lynn Wanotch take a selfie outside of their new storefront. ( Tori- Lynn Wanotch )

The SheNative team consists of seven people from administration, design, development and production as well as retail. Now everything will be under one roof.

"So we have our studio in here, we have our thinktank in here, we have our administration happening here and then of course our retail space as well," said Tori-Lynn Wanotch, director of business growth and marketing.

"It just feels really good to have our entire team together, so that was the biggest and most important part of opening this space." 

Building the business

Fiddler is Cree from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan. While going to school at the University of Saskatchewan for her degree in Aboriginal Public Administration, she worked as a business development officer helping other entrepreneurs begin their own business ventures.

Fiddler then decided to follow her childhood dream of being a fashion designer and started SheNative.  

The SheNative brand has many inspirational quotes and phrases. Fiddler hopes to open others stores that mirror the original in Saskatoon. (Tori- Lynn Wanotch )

"I started this company without any samples, just an idea," said Fiddler

"I had some illustrations, a couple of different designs and a line I wanted to create. And I had zero money."

Fiddler used her savings to hire a consultant from Toronto who taught her how to get her business idea rolling. She made several crowdfunding campaigns that allowed her to start production on her first line. She also completed numerous leadership, economic development, entrepreneurship and business certificate programs over the years. 

Striving to make change

She said SheNative's success is due to the community support from family, friends and customers. She also drew inspiration from other Saskatchewan Indigenous businesses' successes.

"I have learned a lot from Kendal Netmaker of NeechieGear," she said.

"He is a good example of an knowledgable Indigenous businessman." 

Fiddler also aims to inspire other female entrepreneurs.

"A change maker is somebody who strives to make change in community and somebody who tries to use their platform to change perceptions," said Fiddler.

Fiddler said she aims to help others to become those change makers with workshops that are geared to promoting opportunities for women to succeed.

SheNative Goods is known for the many styles of leather bags. (Tori-Lynn Wanotch)

Former participants of the workshops have pursued their own businesses.

Alexandra Jarrett said she began her own photography business after taking a workshop with Fiddler.

"It kind of opened my eyes that there ... are things available for Indigenous women who want to be business owners and entrepreneurs," she said. 

"She taught me so much."

Fiddler plans to give more workshops in First Nations communities. 

"We're using it as a platform to build confidence in young girls lives and obviously it gives us an opportunity to promote the brand."

Fiddler said she and her team are working on a new summer line that will be out in the next few months.

About the Author

Penny Smoke

Journalist

Penny Smoke Cree/Saulteaux born and raised in Saskatchewan. She currently works with CBC Indigenous and has spent time with the CBC Storytelling Project, CBC Saskatchewan as a reporter and assisted as an Associate Producer with CBC's The Afternoon Edition.