Waterhen entrepreneur wins cash to kickstart business venture
- EFN Staff | May 27, 2014
Devon Fiddler has moved her entrepreneurial dream that much closer to reality. The young fashion designer just found out that she is one of eight youth from across Canada that have been chosen for the Michaëlle Jean Foundation Young Arts Entrepreneur program funding.
"I'm feeling very lucky," said Fiddler on her recent successes following her second place finish at the Saskatoon Tribal Councils' Mino-Bimaadiziwin business plan competition in February. But it's not all luck for this energetic young woman.
"This comes from hard work, dedication and adaptability. This concept has changed so much I just roll with it and make changes as needed."
Fiddler is a social entrepreneur from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. She is building SheNative, a brand of handbags and accessories dedicated to empowering Indigenous women in Canada through the design, production and fabrication of the SheNative Goods.
In addition to receiving start-up capital of $7,500, Fiddler will be mentored in business plan development, marketing and other business skills, and receive ongoing mentoring in arts techniques from seasoned professionals. The Canadian Youth Business Foundation, which helped to design the program, will also be assisting her with additional tools and resources.
"I'm looking forward to getting the money first, because it will help kick start everything," said Fiddler. "I've already put money into branding, professional fees, business registration, and now it's time to finish the design based on the brand. So I'll be looking for local artisans and designers to collaborate with right away. I'm hoping to send a call out soon."
On top of her work ethic, Fiddler is dedicated to her education and has a BA in Aboriginal Public Administration through the University of Saskatchewan, her technical Aboriginal Economic Developers Certificate through the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO), and completed a program through the COADY International Institute of the St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Fiddler is one of 21 entrepreneurs chosen globally to participate in a new international program, the Start-up Generation Global Fellowship program.
The aim of Young Arts Entrepreneur is to provide participants with the tools, experience and connections in the financial world they need to "graduate" to other ongoing opportunities to build their businesses.
"We are delighted by the caliber and diversity of our young arts entrepreneurs whose innovative spirit and determination have the potential to inspire underserved youth all over the country. Their business projects span such a rich variety of artistic disciplines, providing our recipients with a unique opportunity to make a mark in Canada's creative industries, which bring billions of dollars to our country every year," said the Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean and Monsieur Jean-Daniel Lafond, Co-Founders and Co-Chairs of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.
"This opportunity will have a huge impact on my business. It's more than just the money, it's the connection to the Michaelle Jean Foundation that is exciting, and the other art entrepreneurs across Canada," added Fiddler. "It will help me get the word out on what I'm doing. I still have so much work ahead of me still, but this will help pay for the expenses of working with the Academy of Fashion Design, materials and a brand new industrial sewing machine!"
Fiddler has also launched a crowdfunding page, where she has raised more than 36 per cent of her goal. You can donate to SheNative at her website until June 6.