Monday, June 24, 2024

She began making scrunchies at 9 to help Ottawa-area youth. Indigenous teen’s business now sells nationally | CBC News

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A young Indigenous entrepreneur whose scrunchies and other creations are sold across Canada has expanded her business to Greater Sudbury, with the launch of a scrunchies vending machine.

Mya Beaudry, 13, started making and selling scrunchies in 2019 when she was just nine years old as a way to give back to youth in her community near Ottawa. 

The business, Kokom Scrunchies, sells scrunchies made from handmade Kokom scarves. The patterned material is significant in First Nations culture.

Mya is originally from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, an Algonquin First Nation in Quebec. Kokom means grandmother in Algonquin.

The business has grown, with products available in 40 stores across Canada and through two vending machines — one in Ottawa and now one in Greater Sudbury.

Mya celebrated the launch of her scrunchie vending machine at the New Sudbury Centre on May 11. It’s the first of its kind to open in northern Ontario. 

The Kokom Scrunchies vending machine at the New Sudbury Centre is filled with handmade scrunchies, scarves, headbands, make up bags, shoe laces and lanyards made from colourful, patterned materials. (Erika Chorostil/CBC)

“It went really, really well. We had a drummer for the opening ceremony, and it was amazing,” said Mya.

As well as scrunchies, the machine is stocked with scarves, headbands, makeup bags, shoe laces and lanyards that are also sold on the company’s website.

Mya said she has family in the Sudbury area and wanted to be able to sell her products to them and other community members. Her family will help keep the machine stocked when she isn’t able to make the trip from Ottawa.

Mya’s mother, Marcie Beaudry, said they also chose the Sudbury location for its ties to First Nations communities.

“Sudbury is such a northern hub for a lot of different Indigenous communities,” said Marcie. 

“And to see an Indigenous and First Nations presence in that mall is, you know, it’s the first of its kind.”

A blue scrunchie with a pattern of red and yellow flowers and green stems and leaves.
Kokom Scrunchies are made from traditional Kokom scarves. The type of pattern is very significant in First Nations culture. (Submitted by Kokom Scrunchies)

Marcie said they appreciate the management at the New Sudbury Centre for being supportive of their idea to install the vending machine and working with them through the process.

“We really appreciate, you know, building that relationship and that connection with the New Sudbury shopping centre to allow an Indigenous youth to come in and show Sudbury and other youth that anything is possible.”

Mya hopes her business success will keep inspiring others to follow their dreams and goals, especially other Indigenous youth.

“For other people that want to start a business, I just want them to have confidence to put [themselves] out there, and just have someone to look up to.”

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