A recent fashion show at one of Winnipeg’s biggest shopping centre’s was the proudest moment of entrepreneur Michelle Cameron’s business career.
Indigenous Nations Apparel Company, or INAC, hosted the first Indigenous Fashion Show at CF Polo Park on Oct. 21.
“It was so monumental that day,” says Cameron who opened INAC in 2021.
“First off, we’re the first Indigenous store, company to be in Cadillac Fairview across Canada, the first in Manitoba in Polo Park so they gave us an opportunity to host the first-ever Indigenous fashion show in Polo Park Mall so it was a really proud moment for all of us and our staff,” says Cameron on the latest episode of Face to Face.
“And to see all the hard work and just bringing people together and hearing the drum in the mall and hearing the singers in the mall and the dancers in the mall, you don’t see that every day.”
It’s been a long road for Cameron, who is also the owner and CEO of Dreamcatcher Promotions, the largest Indigenous-owned promotional company in Canada.
From a young age, Cameron says she’s had an entrepreneurial spirit.
As a child, she would bake cookies and cakes and have her mom sell them to her colleagues at work.
Later in life, in addition to her day job, she had a home-based side business making and selling pizza and wings.
A dozen years ago she made a transition from making and selling food and bought an embroidery machine online.
It was a major shift for someone who admits she doesn’t even know how to sew.
Cameron says she almost threw in the towel a bunch of times.
“I missed hockey games, football games, soccer games. I missed all those things because I was always working,” says Cameron who believes she was more than $40,000 in debt.
Cameron gave up her day job to focus more on the embroidery and family.
She credits her children with pushing her to keep going.
“They were so proud, ‘like mom, you own a business, I tell my friends at school that my mom owns a business,’ so it was always those moments that kept me going,” says Cameron who is a band member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba.
Today, her kids are among the more than 50 staff members employed by Dreamcatcher Promotions and INAC.
There are now two INAC storefronts in Winnipeg and one in Saskatoon.
Cameron also partnered with the North West Company to sell INAC apparel in 80 Northern stores operated by the NWC.