Three Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island each win $1,000 and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
On September 7, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced three winners of the Consumer Semi-Final category:
- Consumer Bath, Body and Beauty Winner: Shay Dekock-Kruger, the Penticton Indian Band Founder of HOLO EYES from Penticton, British Columbia.
- Consumer Retail Winner: Chelsee Pettit, the Aamjiwnaang Founder of aaniin retail inc. from Tkaronto, Ontario.
- Consumer Products Winner: Tanis Simpson, the Inuvialuit Founder of Qiviut Inc. from Nisku, Alberta.
Each winner has won $1,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.
More than 2,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Canada and the United States applied to Pow Wow Pitch this year for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals. From the 2,000 applicants, 130 were selected as Semi-Finalists and provided with training and mentorship to prepare for their semi-final pitch to the Judges.
Last night, Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where the fifteen Consumer Semi-Finalists had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win.
Judges included Eric Turner, Vice President, Business Markets, Greater Toronto Region at RBC; Sean Myomi Hougan, Head of Revenue & Operations at Aurora Heat; Amisha Parikh, VP Product Management and Loyalty at Mastercard; Pam Devonshire, Business Development Manager ecommerce and Parcels at Canada Post; and Meagan Francis, Senior Advisor of Working Capital Solutions at EDC.
Consumer Bath, Body and Beauty Semi-Final Spotlight
“I decided to pitch again this year because my business [HOLO EYES] is now in a better position to scale and launch into other global markets,” said the 2023 Consumer Bath, Body and Beauty Pow Wow Pitch Winner Shay Dekock-Kruger, Founder of HOLO EYES. “It’s proven to be a successful business model through organic sales on Amazon. My business has also been a super fun way for me to express my creativity while also creating fun experiences for others.”
HOLO EYES is an eye makeup and stickers brand that specializes in boosting eye looks at festivals and powwows. HOLO EYES is making waves on social media through their popularity with festival goers.“I hope that my business can be an example to other Indigenous people to show that you can turn a creative idea into a business,” said Shay.
Click here to watch Shay Dekock-Kruger’s winning pitch.
Consumer Retail Semi-Final Spotlight
“I was inspired [to apply for Pow Wow Pitch] having seen the number of businesses that have been elevated by the program firsthand,” said the 2023 Consumer Retail Winner Chelsee Pettit, Founder of aaniin retail inc. “Now that aaniin has made so many strides over the past year, I couldn’t wait to share them with the Pow Wow Pitch audience and community!”
aaniin retail inc is a street wear brand and main-street retail space with a vision and concept to become a high-street retail chain in major shopping centres across Canada. aaniin retail inc has a vision to create more opportunities for Indigenous business and youth to grow and scale impact together. Chelsee projects her values into her company with her values of community, collaboration, and connection. “Our mission is to reclaim the Indigenous economy through fashion and commerce,” said Chelsee.
“This year, our biggest focus is on growing our e-commerce platform and building capacity as we ready for a very busy Black Friday and holiday season,” said the 2023 Consumer Retail Winner Chelsee Pettit, Founder of aaniin retail inc. “We have big things planned for our customers and these stages are crucial for our planned national retail growth.”
Click here to watch Chelsee Pettit’s winning pitch.
Consumer Products Semi-Final Spotlight
“I decided to pitch again because I had an amazing experience last year and the Pow Wow Pitch team is so great to work with,” said the 2023 Consumer Products Winner Tanis Simpson, Founder of Qiviut Inc. “They are empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams and are providing valuable information and mentorship to help us grow not only our business but ourselves. Also I couldn’t pass up the chance of possibly winning $25,000 for the Qiviut Inc team!”
Qiviut Inc. is an Inuvialuit-owned business based in Nisku, Alberta, rooted in the traditional knowledge of qiviut fibre harvesting and muskox hunting that is now manufacturing high-quality qiviut yarns and knitwear. Founder, Tanis Simpson, is proud to carry on the traditions that have kept her family warm for future generations. Tanis prides her company on being Inuit-owned and gives back by creating opportunities for muskox hunters that provide for their families. “With support from Pow Wow Pitch, we can create more jobs for our communities and purchase more equipment to fulfill our orders,” Tanis shared in her pitch.
Click here to watch Tanis Simpson’s winning pitch.
The Runner Up for the Consumer Products Semi-Final was Lawrence Crowfoot, Founder of Crowfoot Collective.
“Congratulations to Shay, Chelsea, and Tanis on Winning the 2023 Consumer Semi-Finals and for advancing to the Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “We love seeing Indigenous brands and products on store shelves and taking up retail space across Turtle Island– it is ‘Land Back’ through entrepreneurship and you are leading the growth of the Indigenous economy! We are so proud of you. Congratulations also to all of the Consumer Semi-Finalists, you were all so great – keep going! The world needs your businesses to keep thriving!”
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, and the stories and achievements of this year’s semi-finalists are a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re so proud of all our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“Being involved in Pow Wow Pitch is not just an honor, it’s a privilege to witness the creativity and innovation of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Build Native Program Manager at Shopify. “It’s a reminder of the resilience and strength of our communities and the power of entrepreneurship to create positive change. Shopify has played a proud role in supporting Pow Wow Pitch, so it is exciting to see how things have grown over the years. What an incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!”
“At Mastercard, we’ve been inspired by the innovative thinking and solutions brought forward by all the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “The future is brighter when Indigenous entrepreneurship is recognized, supported and celebrated, and we are honoured to play a role in continued success and growth of these entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Rachael Hunt on advancing to the next round.”
To watch the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Consumer Brand and Retail Semi-Final, click here.
Shay, Chelsee, and Tanis will now all advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000, which broadcasts online on October 19th. Visit www.powwowpitch.org for more information.