When Christine Marie, a Métis woman from Saskatoon, was searching for Indigenous-inspired clothing for her young children she found little was out there.
“When I started to research and Google what’s out there for a Métis bib … I got what was the most awkward jock-looking bib thing. That wasn’t what I had in mind and I just wanted to change that.”
So she started her own Indigenous infant and toddler clothing line called Awasis Boutique.
Awasis is the Cree word for child and the Awasis Boutique logo is inspired by the Métis infinity symbol.
Her products include onesies, blankets and bibs. Some come with phrases such as ‘New to the Tribe,’ ‘I heart Kokum’ and ‘Bannock Baby.’
Working from home
Marie graduated from the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teachers Education Program (SUNTEP) at the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 and credits the institution for helping her get a deeper connection to her Métis roots.
“My grandma used to take me to Back to Batoche days, teach me about the way Métis used to live, but it wasn’t until I got to university that I actually got to experience the depth of my culture.”
Marie began making and selling her products on local buy and sell pages within the Warman, Saskatoon and Martensville area. Marie runs her business from home as a stay-at-home mother raising her two sons. The products caught on and she was soon being if she had more sizes and colours.
Clients like Alexis Christensen from North Battleford soon began to follow and order from the Awasis Boutique website.
“I just love the prints and you can tell it’s a labour of love for her,” said Christensen.
“You can just tell by the quality of the work along with the thought and effort she puts into everything, even the packaging.”
Awasis Boutique just secured a deal with Wanuskewin Heritage Park and Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon to supply newborn to toddler attire for their gift shops.
Shari Bedient, the manager of both gift shops, has just placed Awasis Boutique’s largest order to date.
She said she knew there was a demand for Indigenous things but was surprised by the response she got soon after she posted photos on social media of the first order from Awasis Boutique.
“My Facebook exploded,” she said.
“People were losing their mind over this…. We were just sold out in less than a week. It was crazy!”
Bedient herself loves the ‘I heart kokum’ and ‘I heart moshum’ shirts.
Marie plans giving back to the Indigenous community by donating a portions of the sale profits to local Indigenous organizations.
Marie said she never imagined the line would catch on this fast, and added that beginning a business can be intimidating. Her advice to others is to not let fear stop you.
“I don’t know if it’s my Métis blood, but when you go for something you just do it. It might be scary but you just go for it.”