Local business uses humor to counter sadness around the world
The lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic were lonely enough without being abandoned in a new town — the situation sticker-maker extraordinaire Amy Jackson found herself in last year.
The 34-year-old from The Pas and Opaskwayak Cree Nation had been in Winnipeg for about a year, pursuing a master’s degree in native studies at the University of Manitoba. Best-case scenario, a year isn’t a lot of time to build a whole new social circle, and best-case scenario, it wasn’t.
Jackson could hardly have guessed that she would soon be leaving school as an entrepreneur with an international clientele and a brick-and-mortar store in the works.
“I was still relatively new to the city, so I was on my own for weeks. It was really tough, and I was like, ‘Man, if I’m depressed, I’m sure tons of people are. .'”
Jackson began looking for something that would fill his time and take his mind off the pandemic doldrums. Like one of those people with mosaics stuck on their laptop lids, that meant making stickers.
“I started creating as an outlet, as a way to cope,” she said. “I then thought it would be so much fun to do some digital design work. It’s something I’ve always wanted to tap into.”
Jackson opened an app and started designing. The world already had its fair share of depressing things, she said. She adapted her designs to balance it out.
“I really wanted to counter that with a bit of humor – let’s remember our humanity and remember that we can crack jokes and have a good time together, you know?”
With this, Nativelovenotes was born.
A year later, the company’s merchandise includes not only stickers, but also stationery, buttons, jewelry, phone accessories, prints, apparel and homewares.
The merchandise is covered in phrases such as “Always Sick”, “Live Laugh Skoden” and “Go get stained”. But other designs tackle more serious issues. They denounce racism, the Indian Act and the colonizing mindset. Or, like the sticker that says, “Intergenerational trauma ends with me,” they show a desire to make the world a better place.
One thing is clear about Jackson’s already bountiful catalog of designs: they struck a chord.
“It exploded very quickly. I think in the first week I had 1,500 followers on Instagram when I started sharing my work,” she said.
That number has since soared to more than 25,000, and Jackson said support is pouring in from around the world.
“We’ve sent to most European countries, to the indigenous people who live there. We’ve had a lot of people in Australia, New Zealand, South America, and then of course spread all over South America. North, Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands,” Jackson said.
The pervasiveness of interest in her products, which she describes as “shamelessly rezzy”, took Jackson by surprise.
“It makes me really excited. I also feel really lucky to have tapped into such a big market – I don’t want to call it a market, because it’s more than a market – in a wider community than us. didn’t know we could connect to each other that way.”
Julianna McLean of Saskatoon (via James Smith Cree Nation), who purchased three coffee mugs with the words “Colonizer’s Tears” arched over a rainbow for her and her children, said Nativelovenotes provides a connection to home and proud reminders of who she and her children are as Indigenous.
“Everything she posts is so about me. And the things for my kids are like, ‘Hey, don’t forget about yourself. I’m sending you this little love note,'” she said. “It’s those little droplets, that’s what Nativelovenotes offers. It’s like those little drops of who we are, and it makes room for that to exist.”
In Winnipeg, Jackson, four core staff and a few casual helpers prepare for their next big move.
On May 7, Nativelovenotes will open its storefront at 1116 Portage Avenue. Jackson and her company will share the building with another Indigenous-owned business, Turtle Woman Indigenous Wear, which sells Indigenous clothing and insignia, as well as supplies and other goods.
Turtle Woman owner April Tawipisim said she’s happy to see Indigenous creators like Jackson thrive and excited to share the space.
“I’m looking forward to working with them, seeing everything they come up with, and maybe somewhere down the road we can work together on a project or something,” Tawipisim said.
Besides setting up the store, Jackson said that in the long term, she aims to take control of her printing by purchasing the printers and supplies to manufacture her products in-house.
It’s an exciting time for the budding entrepreneur, and to celebrate the boom of the year, she’s throwing a party on April 29 at Club 200, complete with “rezzy activities” like jigging and hand wrestling contests. legs. It’s a big date in pandemic isolation.
“I like a good party,” she laughed.
Despite the success, Jackson is in no doubt that she will return to college to complete her master’s degree and then her doctorate in history.
Her mother always told her she was the most determined person she had ever met, Jackson said, so why not decide to go all out?
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for The Times. He’s a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, detective, lazy man, book reader and lover of concise biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.
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