Louisa Reddekopp, Tsimshian from Northwest British Columbia, Canada, is the owner of Fire Moon Soap Co. and was recently named one of the top four finalists for the Community Futures Just Watch Me! Video Contest – an annual contest which promotes and celebrates small business owners with disabilities or ongoing health conditions who reside in rural Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Fire Moon Soap Co. is a natural handmade health and beauty company that sells soaps, salves, lip balms, scrubs and other skin care products, and is based out of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada, where Reddekopp has lived for the past six years.

All of the products are made of natural and readily- available ingredients, such as olive oil, organic coconut oil, beeswax and castor oil. Reddekopp chooses not to add any arti cial coloring to her soaps. “The reason for that is because I think when people add the colors in,” she says, “the colors can be carcinogenic and cause allergies.”

Reddekopp proudly incorporates her First Nations culture in her products and her brand because it keeps her connected to who she is. “It keeps me connected spiritually. It keeps me grounded and reminds me that my vision for my company is simple – to make high quality products that represent who I am as an Indigenous person and that I can take pride in presenting for others to enjoy.” Reddekopp initially started making soaps for herself when she was no longer satisfiedwith the quality of the ready-made brand name cleansers from the store. “I have really dry skin, and I just didn’t find soap from the store was good for me,” says Reddekopp. She began researching how the big soap companies make their products and learned how to make her own soap at home, experimenting with different recipes until she found one that worked for her.

In 2013, she started sharing her soap with family and friends, and received great feedback and encouragement to start selling her products. “When I decided I wanted to start a business, I had a lot of support from my friends, close relatives and family,” says Reddekopp. “Now, as the years have gone by, I’m starting to get support from the people of Rosthern.”

“…my vision for my company is simple – to make high quality products that represent who I am as an Indigenous person and that I can take pride in presenting for others to enjoy.”

Reddekopp started selling her soap at craft fairs in her town of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, then with the help of her friend and media manager Corley Farough from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, she started selling her products through Facebook and Instagram in 2016. “I also have a little set-up display in town at the Arts in the Alley Studio,” says Reddekopp. Through the Just Watch Me! contest, she has also been approached about becoming a vendor at a weekly farmer’s market in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – a great opportunity to increase her brand’s visibility.

Years ago, Reddekopp worked as a waitress and cashier, but it became difficult to continue that type of work due to her osteoarthritis and missing cartilage in her knees – she was often in a lot of pain. The development of Fire Moon Soap Co. could not have come at a better time.

As a relatively new business, the Just Watch Me! contest has helped her increase her company’s visibility in her small town. “I think sometimes being in a rural community is good because you get community support,” Reddekopp says. “But sometimes it can work against you because if you want to grow you need to get into the bigger communities.”

When asked if she had any advice for other people who are thinking about starting their own business, Reddekopp says, “If you feel strongly about what you’re doing, just go for it. Of course, do your research and ask a lot of questions. Find out what’s available to you.” She mentioned organizations like Community Futures Manitoba Inc. (CFM) or seeking out government grants as great resources to look into when starting a business.