The Nitty Gritty:
- Why Devon’s personal experience as an Indigenous woman, plus her political science background, moved her to start a fashion-focused brand with a social good mission.
- How Devon bakes SheNative’s social good mission into everything from social media content to employee management to big business decisions.
- Why and how Devon reached the media to cover SheNative’s story, including global news stations, NBC radio, Shaw TV, and local radio stations before she had a single product.
- How Devon raised almost $23,000 on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to fund product development and SheNative’s first production run.
Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit, I chat with Devon Fiddler, the Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods, a brand of handbags and accessories that helps to empower and change perceptions of Indigenous women and girls.
We cover how she first got the idea for SheNative, how her company’s social impact mission affects both her strategic thinking and her daily activities, and why she chose fashion as a conduit for change making.
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On baking a social mission into your brand
We feel that our designs and what we’re doing as a company are really a catalyst to transform public perceptions of indigenous women by sharing positive stories and conveying our cultural teachings embedded within our designs. It’s in everything we put out. It’s about empathy and accentuating hope for positive change to the public.
— Devon Fiddler
At SheNative, Devon’s approach is based on a social good mission: to empower Indigenous women and girls. That mission is baked into everything she does from posting content on social media, managing employees, and making important business decisions.
As Devon shares, one of those big decisions was closing her retail store. She struggled with the choice, knowing it would cut jobs, “but I knew that in the longer term that there will be more jobs later on,” she says. “I’ve had to just think about it in a big picture level — because the day to day stuff like that can really bog you down.”
What’s your business mission? Even if it’s not a social good one, your mission gives you direction no matter if you’re mapping out your content strategy for the month, reviewing potential partners, or hiring new employees.
Define your business mission — and see it through everything you do.
On launching a fashion brand without a fashion or business background
There’s a million ways I could have started a company that helped empower women, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion. I had no design experience whatsoever when I first started. I just jumped into it. I hired out designers and creative people to work with and that’s where I’ve seen the connection as to how we can help Indigenous women: by working with them and by sourcing out all of the creatives that I can, as well as putting my vision and touch into it.
— Devon Fiddler
What I love about Devon’s story is that she believed in what she was doing, she jumped in, and she didn’t ask for permission. She didn’t wait for the perfect timing. She didn’t go to fashion school to prove she could do it. Instead, she worked with creative people who could do what she couldn’t.
Through that process, she also found that she didn’t need to be the maker: she could serve as the visionary and still add her personal touch while providing jobs to Indigenous women in her community.
If you’re a business owner without formal training in business, you probably resonate with the quote above. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to know everything because you can find people who compliment your strengths and weaknesses as Devon did.
On reaching out to the media
The first time I reached out the media, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a media list first, then I wrote a personal email about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I really focused on the why. I basically told them: you know what, I don’t even have product yet but please cover me because we really need your help in order to raise money so that I can start this project. That’s what really interested a lot of the media outlets that covered me.
— Devon Fiddler
Sometimes you don’t need to wait to perfect your pitch or learn how to write a press release. Sometimes you just do it. Armed with a social good focused business and a positive story, Devon reached out to the media in an honest and authentic way — and it worked for her.
If media outreach and coverage is a struggle for you — or if you haven’t even considered it yet — remember that your pitch doesn’t need to be perfect. Start with where you are, with your unique perspective, and just dive in. Like Devon showed, you don’t even need to have product yet. Instead, use your business’ mission and story strategically to get media coverage and build momentum around your cause.
Listen to the full episode with Devon Fiddler to hear more about how she bakes her social mission into everything she does, how she created SheNative around her personal experience and beliefs, and much more.