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.
"The fund has allowed me to hire staff for my store and give me the time and freedom to fundraise further, while keeping control with indigenous minds and allow me to build economic prosperity within the indigenous communities."
Why was mentorship from Mastercard so important for you?
As first time founders, many of us are getting into positions where we can pave paths for others but it's first very important for us to be able to learn from others who have already been out there themselves and done that. Being able to take their insights and established practices and find ways to turn that into opportunity for marginalized communities has been really important for me as a small business owner.
"The future of small business in Canada is indigenous!"