Indigenous entrepreneur makes Top 40 under 40 list
- Kaitlynn Nordal | July 16, 2019
Kendal Netmaker’s life changed forever when in the fifth-grade a friend helped pay for and drove him back and forth from soccer lessons and upon moving left his family their car.
This act of kindness transformed Netmaker’s life and turned it into what it is now.
In 2011 when he started his clothing line called Neechie Gear, Netmaker knew this was his opportunity to give back in the same way.
“I wanted to create a brand that would represent something cool as well that had a cool mission that would help people like myself,” said Netmaker.
A percentage of the profits from the clothing goes towards funding to help underprivileged kids participate in sports.
In 2012, while traveling around selling Neechie Gear, Netmaker started doing speaking engagements telling his story. Since they were becoming so popular Netmaker started doing them more.
“It was impacting people. I think if it wasn’t impacting, I wouldn’t have continued to do it,” said Netmaker. “I have always prided myself on trying to be as authentic as possible on a stage. I tell real stories that relate to real people. I give actionable insight into getting unstuck, to become who you were born to be, the leader you were born to be, the entrepreneur you were born to be, … whatever it is I usually give the insight to help those people.”
Netmaker then started Netmaker Enterprises Corp. in 2015 and made speaking engagements a full-time job. He also helps other entrepreneurs.
In fall 2018, Netmaker published Driven To Succeed. The book is a mix of his own story and talks.
And now at only 32, he has been named to the 2019 Top 40 Under 40 list.
He was nominated by Paul Martin and J.P. Gladu who wrote support letters and things of the sorts.
There were 850 nominees in total and the list was then dwindled down on various criteria such as leadership, impact and social responsibility.
After being shortlisted, Netmaker had to go through a criminal, background, reference, and credit score check. After being cleared, he went in for a formal interview.
Roughly three weeks later, Netmaker got a call saying he made the list.
“I was in shock. It was probably one of the most respectable accomplishment's I've had to date because of the complexity of what the process was. They don’t pick just anyone - you have to meet a certain standard in the national marketplace. So, it was very honoring, and I take it with a lot of respect,” said Netmaker.
Netmaker, who is from Sweetgrass First Nation, is the only person from Saskatchewan to make the list this year.
“I take being a First Nations role model very seriously and take it with a lot of pride. I try to do a lot of things that would inspire more of my people to follow in similar footsteps in their own way. Every accomplishment and everything I choose to do with my business ... I feel like I'm helping people at the same time to inspire them to start doing what they should be doing,” said Netmaker.
Netmaker and his fellow award winners will attend the Top 40 National Celebrations held in Toronto in November. On November sixth they will be honoured at the Top 40 Awards Night Gala to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.