On September 2, 2015 the Aboriginal Designers Cooperative opened its doors, located on the main floor of Neechi Commons at 865 Main Street, Winnipeg Manitoba.
The cooperative is made up of 6 Aboriginal Designers from Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.
The cooperative is brand new. It began with a conversation Iris Lauzon (of Iris Lauzon Designs) had with a few designers, which in turn lead to some meetings, and a flurry of activity, to the space being found and rented in August of 2015.
Members of the cooperative changed over those weeks, and there are now six members. The members create fashion and design. Fashion and design covers not only apparel, it also include home décor, professional décor, anywhere people live and includes what people decorate their spaces with.
All of the members have various levels of experience,expertise and education in design, some formal and some ‘self-taught’ or as they will tell you, they learned from mom’s, grandmothers, aunties and other community members.
As designers, artists, and artisans, the members were all accustomed to working independently, and working from home. When coming together to form this cooperative, they knew this would be different.
The members came together to support each other,help each other, mentor each other, work together to the best of our abilities, and to bring our designs to as many people as possible.
The space where the cooperative is located, is both retail and studio space. The retail space includes the presentation of designs and creations. The studio space provides a place to meet clients, discuss designs and creations, and also includes a cutting/work table, industrial sewing machines and various work supplies tucked out of sight under the worktable.
of Iris Lauzon Designs
Iris Lauzon has worked in numerous areas that relate to the apparel/
fashion industry. She was taught by one of the best, “best” meaning attention to detail in tailoring and building a piece from start to finish. She began as an artist in painting, sketching and sculpting but in her early adult years she stumbled quite by accident upon sewing, which developed into a desire to learn pattern drafting and
design or anything related.
Iris was part of the 60’s scoop and in her early teenage years like most in her position was hit with an identity crisis and so became a runaway. Iris was fortunate to have met up with her people in the big city of Toronto and came to know that being Aboriginal did not mean shame. Iris never went back to her other
Val T. Vint
Born in Winnipegosis, Manitoba, Val spent the most meaningful part of her childhood in the bush chasing foxes and pelicans with her Grandfather, a conservation officer. She draws from a background of photography, engineering, design, theatre, music, travel, and work with other indigenous peoples. Her cultural heritage makes her feel that she has a license to investigate all forms of art. Val has been facilitating cultural art workshops, including drumming and singing for about forty years. These workshops have been held throughout Manitoba, Scotland and Latin America.
of Wolf Kwe Fashion and Designs for Life
A Métis woman (of Saulteaux/Cree/Dakota/British/French descent) from Ebb & Flow First Nation, and a single mother of two, Roxanne’s greatest joy comes from her two grandsons, Aiden and Calvin.
Roxanne grew up in a small, but successful family owned and operated business in transportation. Roxanne started her career as a Librarian in 1986, then decided to attend university in 1990. In 1994, she began working at the Asper School of Business. In 2011 Roxanne left the world of ‘working for others’, and began working on her own
doing contract work. Wolf Kwe Fashion and Designs for Life has been featured at fashion shows in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Regina, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba and Waywayseecappo First Nation, Manitoba.
Gwen works in a variety of mediums such as ceramics, fiber, watercolor,designing beaded items and beautifully up-cycles items into art.
Gwen is part of the ’60’s scoop’ and her adopted mother is from Six Nations of the Grand, giving her strong ties to that community. In the 1960’s Gwen found her home community, Wabauskang First Nation, Perrault Falls, Ontario (ON) in the territory of Treaty #3.She feels that she has the best qualities of both worlds.Gwen had a successful bead shop in Kenora, Ontario and comes with years of experience in retail. Gwen has recently returned to Winnipeg and was invited to be a member of this designers group. She obtained her MBA in 2006, and has been working on the business side for quite some time.
of Caribou Designs
Tabetha is originally from Northwestern Ontario, and is known for her beading, leatherwork and apparel design. The great grand daughter of the first ‘Jingle Dress’ dancer, Tabetha also makes pow wow regalia.
Terry Running Bear Gardner
of Running Bear Footwear
Terry grew up in Winnipeg, but is originally from the Mi’Kmaq Nation. He graduated high school in 2012, and is the youngest cooperative member. He enjoys the mentorship from the other members/designers of the cooperative. Terry makes unique moccasins, mukluks and wraps. He also creates jewelry, and is always working
at improving his beading.