ᐊᐧᐢᑲᐃᐧᐃᐧᐣ are the cree syllabics for “movement”
What is your background?
Indigenous father, designer, community member. My work is about creating a better future for the next generation, primarily with my Indigenous community. Utilizing fashion as a tool to educate, empower, and connect people.
Tell us about your business and what it does.
mobilize is an Indigenous streetwear brand. Growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to know my people’s history, I didn’t have the chance to know the history of the land we currently share. As I got older I learned the stories of my people and began to reconnect, heal, and become whole again. The story of colonization for Indigenous people is layered, it is deep, and it is ugly. I create a product for the youth, for the people, to tell the stories I know, to share the knowledge I have, I create this product to reconnect with identity. I refer to most of what happens with mobilize as a movement. A movement of community connect, localizing business, and sustainable ways of being.
Primarily I create art in the form of streetwear.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The lack of representation of Indigenous people in clothing, art, and just in everyday life. I wanted to have a product where I could see myself, where my children could see themselves.
But I also wanted to be the author of my own story. I wanted to be able to carry on a legacy of community enhancement I had been lucky to watch alongside my mentors growing up.
What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success?
This past December mobilize was featured on Vogue.com as one of four North American Indigenous designers empowering their communities.
What is your biggest challenge now, in light of COVID-19?
Mental health while adjusting to a new speed of life. Finding ways to remain balanced physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Every aspect of life seems to have taken a change of speed and it’s been important to allow for slowdown. For myself, it has been a major time of self-reflection and learning the areas of myself that need growth. Taking the step back and making sure all areas of my life are balanced. Being at a good place in your mental health the changes of speed and adjustments come much more smoothly.
Have you had to pivot your business due to the impact of COVID-19?
A few aspects of the business needed to change to due store, manufacturer, shipping closures of delays. With the slow down of my immediate life and being able to be home with my kids every day I have found way more energy to pour into developing and growing mobilize. I have always been a glass super full kind of guy, so I have been very opportunistic during this time and built some strategies to help current and future growth. Existing as an e-commerce brand from the beginning has also laid a lot of good groundwork to continue with minimal bumps.
What has this pandemic taught you about you and/or your business?
It has taught me that it’s truly time to invest and grow this movement. There are many streams outside of the clothing aspect that builds community connections simultaneously with business growth. It has also taught me how to slow down and create more efficiency within my work. It has reinstated for me the great importance of local business and how we need to support each other continuously.
What advice would you offer other small business owners as they continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on their business?
Be flexible and be you. I believe people need to see the realness of your business at this time. People require humanity for that connection, how can you show that through online platforms, how can you still connect virtually with your customer?
Do you have any specific advice or lessons learns to share when it comes to eCommerce?
Be authentic. Keep it real. The best way to learn is to jump right into it, explore and improve. For the local buyer realness is important, when they can see themselves in the advertisement/product/business they feel connected to the movement.
What advice would you share with others who want to start or grow their own business?
Just go. Why wait anyways?
What’s coming up next for you?
Building a new collection which will elevate mobilize from streetwear to men’s high fashion. Upcoming collaborative projects with local artists and artists across turtle island. Also, keep an eye for the soon dropping mobilize X Oilersnation collab!