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A Cape Breton beadwork artist went from making her own jewellery and crafts to building a global business—and now she's encouraging others to do the same.
Mariah Battiste of Eskasoni, N.S., is the owner of Sundaylace Creations & Bling, an online shop that sells beading supplies to customers across Canada and around the world.
Battiste was taught the art of beading about 10 years ago, and then became a teacher herself.
As she prepared beading kits for her students, Battiste was finding it difficult to find supplies so she started importing beads as a wholesale buyer.
And soon, her home community started taking notice.
"Once I got that first $1,000 [wholesale] investment that I put in, all the people around me started to ask, 'Hey do you have any leftover kits?' and 'Do you have any more of this colour?'" she said.
"And it started to become an ongoing conversation with the small beading community in Eskasoni."
'I'm creating entrepreneurs'
Battiste has since grown her website from 30 bead colours to over 3,000 products including glass beads in shades of metallic peach, turquoise green and pearl red opaque, along with a variety of gems, rhinestone chains and other beading materials.
Battiste said her shop gives others the opportunity to create their own businesses by creating and selling their creations.
And by following her passion, Battiste is also helping continue the longstanding tradition of beading in Eskasoni.
"I love participating in something that's encouraging Indigenous culture and Indigenous craft – and secondly, what has really grown out of it was a community-driven purpose. I'm creating entrepreneurs. I'm not just creating beaders."
Battiste is surprised by how quickly her business has taken off, as most customers hear about her website by word of mouth.
'Beading is medicine'
She encourages other entrepreneurs to get educated in their chosen field, invest in themselves and seek out mentors for support.
"Start before you're ready, because if I waited until I was ready, I'd probably wouldn't be in the business I am now," said Battiste
Battiste was named recipient of the 2021 Jack Yazer Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award given out by the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is the first Indigenous person to ever receive this award.
One of things she loves most about beading is how it better connects her with her Mi'kmaw roots.
"It's a practice of healing and they say beading is medicine, and I totally would agree," Battiste said.
Have a story idea about Eskasoni First Nation or want to get in touch? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Want to hear more? Here is a link to Sundaylace Creations Radio Interview