Indigenous Women in Business – Taking on the World of Beauty


April, 2018

The beauty and skincare business has long been dominated by high-end department store brands and drug store products. These Indigenous women entrepreneurs are taking on this space through creating brands that are connected to culture, empowerment and Indigenous ways of knowing.

Quw’utsun’ Made

A member of the Quw’utsun’ (of the Cowichan Tribes), Arianna Johnny-Wadsworth aims to preserve the traditional ways of knowing of where she comes from through engaging with the natural world. Paying homage to her Ancestors and Elders and the teachings they have passed on, she named the business after her tribe. Her products combine ancestral knowledge and language with Northwest Indigenous Plant Extracts. Our favourite products include the Devil’s Club Lotion and the Cedar scented Soy Wax Candle.

The Wild Botanicals

The Wild Botanicals incorporates wild plants and organic ingredients in alignment with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) plant knowledge to create small batch botanical products. A member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh First Nation, entrepreneur Leigh Joseph (Styawat) has utilized her knowledge of ethnobotany alongside Indigenous ways of knowing to sustainably harvest wild plant ingredients in a respectful way. Alongside her sister Salia Joseph, the two have created products like the KW’ENIKWÁY (kwa-in-i-kway) Wild Poplar Salve and the Yákw’i7 (yak-wee) Rose Yarrow Bath Salts.

Cheekbone Beauty

Jenn Harper founded Cheekbone Beauty to fulfill the market need for a Canadian made product, not animal tested, and that suited sensitive skin. In addition, Harper wanted to create employment opportunities for Indigenous people and to support the education gap for Indigenous children and youth living in Canada. 10% of profits from all purchases are donated to support the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s project entitled Shannen’s Dream, which advocates for safe, comfortable schools that are culturally relevant. Our favourite product are the lip glosses named after Indigenous women leaders, including ‘Buffy’ (Buffy St. Marie) as well as the top seller ‘Sweetgrass’.

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