USask alumna Devon Fiddler (BA’11) sets change into motion with SheNative
For Devon Fiddler, social entrepreneur, chief changemaker and founder of SheNative Goods Inc, collaborating with others is an integral part of her company. Through the manufacturing of their genuine leather products, SheNative works to empower Indigenous women and girls, and profile artists and designers in the community.
“I employ 100 per cent Indigenous women in the design and production process,” Fiddler said. “We work with different Indigenous artists, designers and photographers, and I always hire Indigenous role models from the community to model for us, whether it’s a fashion show or a photoshoot.”
A Cree woman from Waterhen Lake First Nation and mom of two, Fiddler wants to change both personal and public opinions of Indigenous women and girls through SheNative.
“Our mission has two main objectives. First, I want to help change the public perceptions surrounding Indigenous women and girls and to invite the community to share in knowledge and culture. The other goal is to inspire Indigenous women and girls who are going through a tough time, and to show that we can overcome trauma,” she said. “A lot of Indigenous women experience intergenerational effects of trauma stemming from residential schools and colonialism.”
Fiddler has been recognized for her work and has won numerous awards for leadership and entrepreneurship, including being one of the first two Indigenous businesses to become a SheEO venture in 2016.
Her advice to anyone starting a business?
“Take time to outline your vision and mission so you have a very clear business model. You need to create a business model that is sustainable where you can create change, but also be profitable. It’s really about balancing it out, having a clear path and knowing all of the resources that are available to you.”
For more information on SheNative, visit shenative.com.
Fiddler’s top five tips for starting a community-minded and collaborative business:
1. Take time to craft your vision and mission
Always go back to why you’re doing what you’re doing, because this is the main driver nd reason for starting a community-minded and collaborative business in the first place. If you have a clear vision and mission, you can always go back to your ‘why’ as a reference point for major decisions that you will need to make.
2. Be open to opportunities
If you don't stay open minded, an opportunity might slip through your fingers. That being said, also learn when to say no if the opportunity does not fit with your vision and mission.
3. Listen to your clients, customers and beneficiaries
It’s important to consider what their needs and wants are. How can you add value and make them happy?
4. Involve others in the start-up process
Get clients, customers and beneficiaries involved and share your story and journey with them. Take them along for the ride! This will enable you to start a following and have customers through your launch.
5. Be creative with funding
Think about new ways of raising capital, like crowdfunding, contribution grants, business competitions, friends, family and fundraising, as alternatives to raising money. You don't always need a business loan in the beginning. You just need to be creative, and find ways to boot strap if you don't have a lot of capital to begin with.