Aaniin, which means hello in Ojibwe/anishinaabemowin, started as a streetwear brand that uses syllabics as the design focus to raise awareness for Indigenous culture. Each garment, made by Chelsee herself, includes a tagged QR code which allows the wearer to start the conversation about indigenous languages as well as pass on the information to others. Most recently, the business has developed into a full-time pop-up at Toronto's Stackt Market which houses products from Aaniin as well as other local Indigenous artists and designers. The main goal of the brand is to serve as a platform that can help create opportunities for other Indigenous creators and spread awareness around the beauty of Indigenous culture.
If chosen to receive the $10,000 fund, what would you use it for?
This fund will allow me to hire part-time staff to help run my physical store, which will create more of an opportunity for me to focus on the larger growth of the business. I am typically running the store on my own which takes away a lot of time from being able to work on my own clothing, find and network with other Indigenous creatives as well as work on marketing strategies to help raise awareness for the store. I have seen such incredible growth over the last year and I know exactly how I can continue to build off of that momentum. The $10,000 would be a huge asset to help clear up my schedule a bit and really work on Aaniin's expansion.
What is one of your goals for 2023?
In 2023 we will actually be moving out to Stackt Market to a much bigger space in Toronto. I want to create an ultra hybrid retail space that immerses customers in Indigenous art installations as merchandising fixtures, music, local Indigenous fashion designers, beadwork's, and increase the amount of clothing collaborations. In this phase, we will also be working with a local cut and sew factory to supply small batch streetwear designs. My goals for 2023 is to be the first ever modern Indigenous retail store that supplies 100% Indigenous owned, designed, and/or made products from everyone's favourite Indigenous brands.
Why do you think you deserve to receive this fund?
For me it's always about the long term effect for the community. I believe that I have a unique passion and drive that can make a significant difference for the Indigenous culture and incredible Indigenous creatives within it. Receiving this grant is going to give us the flexibility we've needed to grow over the last year. This money would allow us to hire and train staff for the holiday season and create more time for me to focus on building stronger business plans, pitch to Indigenous investors and begin to create budgets and improve supply chain.