Matsheshu Créations: A Young Business to Discover
Matsheshu Créations is the result of thousands of hours of inspiration, reflection and creation. It is a unifying project, which highlights the art and culture of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh with a contemporary touch. Each collection starts with unique patterns designed by Raphaëlle Langevin and materializes thanks to the creativity of the artisans who have joined her team. The enterprise’s vision is to bring together a community of individuals who are passionate about First Nations cultures and fashion.
Raphaëlle has entrepreneurship in her blood! With a grandfather and great-grandfather who were glaziers, she is keeping the family tradition alive by creating her business. This young Pekuakamishkueu (an Innu from Mashteuiatsh) is committed to the economic development of her community and the transmission of her culture.
The idea of launching a creative project has always been appealing to her, but it was in the summer of 2020 that she decided to take a first step towards making her dream come true by creating the basis of her brand image: the name and logo. Her logo highlights an animal that represents her well and appeals to her a lot, the fox. It is with that in mind that she chose the name “MATSHESHU” for her project, as it means fox in Nehlueun.
In the winter of 2020, Raphaëlle discovered digital drawing and it was then that she found clarity. She could draw patterns and print them out on fabric. This brought together all her fashion, art, craft and design interests.
This completely opened up her imagination. She took steps with the team of the Société de développement économique Ilnu (SDEI) to explain her entrepreneurial project and seek advice. Immediately, she was offered the opportunity to participate in the women’s entrepreneurial camp that was set to be held in Mashteuiatsh the following week. You could say she was at the right place at the right time and the stars were aligned for her to take part in this camp that allowed her to conceptualize her business model. She then continued her process with the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) to draft her business plan. Thanks to her enthusiasm, efforts and action, she was able to stand out and receive several bursaries that greatly helped her in starting her business.
We can say that everything was working out wonderfully well for her in her entrepreneurial beginnings.
Matsheshu Créations targets three main clienteles:
- The model woman aged 30 to 45, an accomplished and inspiring woman who shows her culture through her style and who displays her First Nations identity;
- The young and trendy next generation Indigenous people aged 18 to 30 who are trying to build their identity and are still exploring their style;
- The non-Indigenous supportive person who builds bridges, appreciates our culture and wants to show their support for First Nations.
Her biggest challenge was balancing work and family. As a new mother since October 2020, she had to deal with the fact that no childcare services were available to her. Raphaëlle thus had to advance her business project for a year while taking care of her baby full time.
Despite her busy schedule, she finds time to teach beading classes in her community and keep the tradition alive. Her next project is to make videos demonstrating different craft techniques.
She shared with us that she has experienced several moments of hesitation since her beginnings in entrepreneurship, but that she has been able to count on a good support network (SDEI, FNQLEDC, mentors, etc.), and that for each problem encountered, there was always someone there to help and support her to continue to move forward with her project.
She says that she has always been attracted to museum shops. When she started her business, it was important to her to ensure that her products were high quality so that they could be sold in these shops. She has already developed a wide range of products: stationery, jewellery, bags, accessories and clothing with Indigenous motifs. She wants to continue to diversify her range of products with the acquisition of a laser cutting machine.
The next step to move forward will consist of building a distribution network, first in Quebec and then in Canada, in order to promote her brand, create employment and promote the culture of the Pekukamiulnuatsh and other First Nations.
Advice to future entrepreneurs
“Go find some resources and knock on doors. There are resources for all types of entrepreneurs and many programs exist to help us. There is no one-stop shop, you have to have a good network to find what you need. Each has their own area of expertise. The more we expand our network, the greater our chance of being successful,” explains Raphaëlle.
In conclusion, she says the reason she went into business was because she had nothing to lose and felt like she had something big to achieve. It is a great way to trust life and let yourself be carried away by your dreams. Raphaëlle is a young Indigenous entrepreneur who will undoubtedly be a role model for her generation as well as those to come.
To discover the products of Matsheshu Creations, we invite you to visit its online store.
To consult other business portraits, we invite you to visit our blog.