Aboriginal Designers Cooperative

By Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud
September 15, 2015

We love to hear about people working together, like we do!!! Here is a great note from & about the Aboriginal Designers Cooperative!

Baby moccasins

On September 2, 2015 the Aboriginal Designers Cooperative opened its doors, located on the main floor of Neechi Commons at 865 Main Street, Winnipeg Mb. The cooperative is made up of 6 Aboriginal Designers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This ‘soft’ opening, was in part, preparation for a GRAND Opening on September 24 & 25, 2015. We have limited hours (12 noon – 4 pm, Monday to Saturday), and once we have the Grand Opening, we will be open the same hours as Neechi Commons.

The cooperative is brand new, it began with a conversation Iris Lauzon (of Iris Lauzon Designs) had with a few designers this past winter, that lead to some meetings this past spring, and a flurry of activity in July, to the space being found and rented in August. Members of the cooperative changed over those weeks, with the current six members, paying membership fees and rent – and the cooperative was born. The members create fashion and design. Fashion and design covers not only apparel, it also include home décor, professional décor, anywhere people live and includes what people decorate their spaces with.

All the members have various levels of experience, expertise and education in design, some formal and some ‘self-taught’ or as they will tell you, they learned from mom’s, grandmothers, aunties and other community members. As designers, artists, and artisans, we were all accustomed to working independently, and working from home. Some of us had fellow designers we collaborated with, bounced ideas off, but for the most part, we worked alone. The non- aboriginal fashion world and industry can often be a mean, cut-throat business. When coming together to form this cooperative, we knew this would be different. Having a cooperative for designers is a bold step, and one we took with excitement, and confidence. We came together to support each other, help each other, mentor each other, work together to the best of our abilities, and to bring our designs to as many people as possible.

Future plans and goals include mentoring other designers, offering classes and workshops, hosting fashion shows and participating in trade shows across Canada, and worldwide. We want to bring awareness to not only our own people, but also to the non-aboriginal world. We have seen a huge growth in aboriginal designers being recognized in New York City Fashion Week, Los Angeles Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week. There is an excitement and an awareness growing, and we are so pleased to see that, and participate in that. This growth is new, but some of us have been designing and creating for over 40 years, we are ready and look forward to bringing our designs to the world.

The space where we are located, is both retail and studio space. The retail space includes the presentation of our designs and creations; that include formal and informal apparel, mocs and mukluks, jewelry, home decor, fabric (from Roxanne’s fabric line), baby wear, pottery, candles, bags, moss bags and cradle boards, and much more. The studio space provides a place to meet clients, discuss designs and creations, and also includes a cutting/work table, industrial sewing machines and various work supplies tucked out of sight under the work table. Visiting the shop, you may very well find someone working on a project or two. Be sure to stop in regularly, as new designs and items are being added daily, and some don’t stay on the shelf very long.

Future plans include growth in the membership, and continuing to bring awareness of who we are, what we do, and the products and services we can offer.

Our Mission; From the heartland of Turtle Island to the World

Our Vision: Stepping stones for Aboriginal designers to create a bridge between us and the global fashion industry.

“One person can’t do it all, but when you gather a group of successful designers that all have different strengths, well watch what can be achieved” Iris Lauzon of Iris Lauzon Designs

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