As a group of women working towards common goals for STYLE Canada‘s brand and business, we understand the value of peer support in the workplace. So, after our last Supper Club at Soho House, we decided to bring like-minded women in business together and feature them in an ongoing series: #LeadingLadies. Here’s hoping that we’ll see you at our next Supper Club. Keep your eyes peeled on our events page for more details.
Christine Marie – Teacher, mom-preneur, designer, Indigenous brand founder and owner
Professional title: Founder, Designer and Owner of Awasis Boutique
SC: Tell us about yourself.
CM: I was born and raised in Saskatoon by a single mother. I am part Filipino, Cree/Metis. I have a Bachelors of Education with my teaching areas being Native studies and home economics. I have a love for all things black and white when it comes to fashion and home decor. Some of my favourite things in life include my two sweet boys, singing and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
SC: What is your greatest achievement over the past decade?
CM: To prepare, launch and build my first business, Awasis Boutique, from scratch in February of 2018. It is the first Indigenous-inspired baby and kids fashion line in Western Canada. I started the business at a time when I was at a difficult crossroads in life. I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home Mom for the past five years, but I had to start looking at options for transitioning back into working part-time. I was scared. I had all of the feels. At times, I felt insecure, I did not know how I was going to balance everything or how my next few months would look, but there was also something inside of me telling me to go for it.
So, after I put my babies to bed each night, I would hustle. I was researching, emailing, writing out and placing sticky notes all over the place. I was looking into how I could start my own business from home, so I could work from home. I did not have an Instagram account, nor did I know how the ‘gram worked. I had never built a website in my life. I did not take any courses on business, online marketing or e-commerce, but I was ready and willing to learn. To step out and take chances.
I’m glad I followed that voice inside that told me to go for it. Within the first few months of launching, I received a warm welcome from the community. Local media outlets reached out and shared my story. Local retailers reached out asking to purchase products for their shelves. I was also one of the finalists on CBC’s 40 Under 40 in 2018. Every time a customer tags me in a photo of one of their little ones in my gear, I’m reminded of why I love what I do. These were little victories that confirmed I made the right decision.
SC: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
CM: I remembered shopping for my firstborn and found it difficult. There were many adorable pieces in the girls clothing
section, but not as many options in the boys section. I also went fabric shopping, as I wanted to sew together my firstborn’s crib set. I remember going into a large fabric store – which has many stores across Canada – and asked them if they had any Indigenous-themed prints. They had one. One?!
The fabric had a print with arrows on it. I knew this had to change. For the amount of Indigenous people we have living in Canada and how much of their culture and language was lost, I set out to fill the void.
SC: What social issues are you most passionate about?
Creating a safe space and platform for Indigenous people on social media and in the business sector. Helping to revitalize the Cree/Michif language. Ensuring our little ones, especially those that are Indigenous, that their culture is beautiful and is something to be proud of.
SC: How do you hope to leave an impact on the world?
I hope I can leave a positive impact on our world. Not one of perfection, but of quality. I don’t want to pretend that I’m perfect or have it all together – my followers on social media can attest to this. I try my best to show the real, the raw and the victories because that is how real life is. From a business standpoint, I want Awasis Boutique to be known as a quality business that offers comfortable, practical and culturally-themed products. Through my business, I will continue to educate others about the Indigenous culture and language. I will continue to show up as a strong, Indigenous Mom-preneur who hopes to inspire other women to show up as well.