Semi-Finalist Spotlight on Melissa Lauzon Wallace, Maya Clothing and Tannery
Meet Melissa Lauzon Wallace, President of Maya Clothing and Tannery. Melissa is a Pow Wow Pitch Quebec Semi-Finalist. We sat down with Melissa to learn more about her, her business and her reflections on entrepreneurship.
PWP: What motivated you to start your business?
MLW: I started this business with my life partner Alexis Harvey.
Our catches were not worth anything on the market as trappers, so we decided to transform them into clothing. Over time, demand grew, and so we decided to open a tannery.
I am motivated most by living my passion. Nature and fashion have given me everything I have wanted in life.
PWP: Can you tell me more about Maya Clothing?
MLW: I started Maya Clothing in 2015 to provide the services of tannery, taxidermy, purchase and sale of fur, and the transformation of raw fur or fur coats. Our business promotes the nobility for trapping and tanning. We are unique because we make all our products, and there is also a story behind each product.
As we grow our business, we are now collecting bovine hide from slaughterhouses.
PWP: What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
MLW: The greatest reward has been to develop our business from our passions and to have made it our profession. Today our business is flourishing, and above all, it has no debt.
PWP: What has been the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur?
MLW: The biggest challenge in our business is educating people about the reality of hunting and trapping.
I also advocate for the rights of women in the profession. Women have an important place in the profession of hunting and trapping. I owe it to myself to educate people.
PWP: What are you most proud of so far?
MLW: I am proud of how our company has developed and grown while growing a family.
Every day has been an adventure, and I would have never thought our business would be where it is today.
PWP: Why did you choose to apply for Pow Wow Pitch?
MLW: I applied for Pow Wow Pitch to put my origins forward. I am proud to be an Innu who stands out and who can make a difference. I want to show that whatever your origins, you can succeed.
With Pow Wow Pitch, I have moved beyond my comfort zone. As a result, we have gained media exposure to a new audience and it has helped open the door to accept a hunting and trapping business.
PWP: What advice do you have for Indigenous people thinking of starting up a business?
MLW: Believe in your dreams. Nothing will ever be too big. Surround yourself with the right people, and you will make all your dreams come true.
Do not give up because the path is too hard. Of course, there will be ups and downs, but you will see a solution for every problem when you look at all of this later.
PWP: Thank you for chatting with us, Melissa! Good luck with the Semi-Finals.
You can support Melissa to reach the Pow Wow Pitch Finals by voting for her for the People’s Choice Prize. Click here to vote for Melissa. You can also watch Melissa Pitch at the Quebec Semi-Finals Live on September 21, 2021, at 6 PM ET / 5 PM CT. Click here to register to watch.