Valéry Larouche, a Nikanewin Bursary 2022 recipient
The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) awarded eleven Nikanewin Bursaries with a value of $2,500 each last winter. Today, we introduce you to one of the recipients, Ms. Valéry Larouche, Mikuniss Collection owner and designer.
Valéry, who is an Innu from Mashteuiatsh, is a young entrepreneur who made a dream come true by creating her own fashion design business. She wants to promote her culture and that of First Nations by offering unique pieces that combine the know-how of her ancestors with modern innovation. Now let’s look at how the Nikanewin Bursary was able to help her!
Thanks to the $2,500 grant, Valéry purchased an industrial sewing machine that can sew leather. This allows her to sew accessories such as wallets, handbags, and clothing. She mentioned to us that this kind of bursary is really beneficial for developing a new branch of an existing business, or adding expensive equipment to allow for innovation, or simply to assist with starting a business by increasing financial means.
Mikuniss Collection was born after she acquired her degree in fashion design. Her studies enabled her to learn how to make fashion drawings, conduct trend forecasting, and carry out all the stages of manufacturing to obtain a final product. Having also completed her course in accounting and management, she felt ready to embark on her great entrepreneurial project on her own.
What does Mikuniss mean?
Mikuniss means little feather. The half-feather, half-tree logo was created with the artistic and ecological side of her business in mind. Valéry uses natural fibres as much as possible and recycles textiles, fur coats, and so on because she cares about the environment and the ecological footprint. By recycling, she transforms a material that would have been thrown away. She tells us that about 80% of the fabrics used in her business will come from recycled fabrics, which is very admirable. These creations are local products that are entirely made in Quebec.
She is also studying the possibility of a research and development project with Écofaune Boréale, the Centre collégial de transfert technologique en fourrure nordique, in order to develop her own fish leather tanning process. This is a fairly unique project in Quebec, since this type of leather, considered exotic, is mainly found in Europe. The designer wants to use local species, which are already fished for food, and whose skin is currently a waste product.
The FNQLEDC is proud to be able to help Indigenous entrepreneurs carry out their business projects through the Nikanewin Bursaries. The 3rd edition was announced on January 16th, and you have until February 28, 2023 to share your entrepreneurial project with us. If you only have a business idea in mind, perhaps this bursary could help you make it a reality.
The FNQLEDC would like to remind all future entrepreneurs that they can benefit from the free support and guidance of its team to develop their projects.
To learn more about the Nikanewin Bursaries 2023 or to submit your application, we encourage you to visit our website.
To consult additional entrepreneur portraits, please visit our blog section.