The Matsheshu Magic: A Journey of Indigenous Artistry and Entrepreneurial Spirit
Raphaëlle Langevin is the Pekuakamiulnuatsh owner of Matsheshu Creations, a business operating in Mashteuiatsh, Québec, that marries tradition with innovation, Raphaëlle’s entrepreneurial journey is marked by a passion for design and a deep sense of community.
“I was brainstorming about entrepreneurial projects when I first found out the name ‘matsheshu’. Matsheshu means fox in Nehlueun,” Raphaëlle shared. This name, resonant with personal meaning, became the cornerstone of a venture.
Matsheshu Creations is is dedicated to Indigenous craftsmanship. “I design my own prints for fabrics taking inspiration from cultural symbols, traditional patterns, and natural elements,” Langevin says. The brand offers a comprehensive line: from jewelry to apparel, colouring books, and greeting cards. “What makes my business stand out is my business model. We have a wide variety of products for all tastes and budgets,” she explains. At its heart, Matsheshu is a family and community business, a collaboration between independent crafters, seasonal employees, and Raphaëlle’s own family.
In a significant stride forward, Raphaëlle has plans to launch Matsheshu‘s first storefront in Mashteuiatsh. “This will be the turning point of our business, as it will allow us to have our first store and to push our online sales further,” she expressed, revealing a vision to expand across Canada through online sales, new retail locations, and appearances at powwows.
“The most challenging part has been to find balance,” Raphaëlle admits. Her recollection of burning out in 2022, followed by the joy of discovering she was expecting her second child, is poignant. Yet, her children are her anchors, keeping her grounded and motivated. “They are the most precious thing and my biggest source of motivation,” she says with palpable affection.
Two years after her first pitch at Pow Wow Pitch, Raphaëlle is back, representing a business that’s matured and ready for greater success. She emphasizes the value of Pow Wow Pitch not just in terms of potential financial rewards but also for the opportunities it presents for networking and learning. Her experience with mentors Stephanie Ying from Mastercard and Crystal Hunt from Shopify has been transformative. “Crystal made me recognize strengths I did not realize I had, which really brought my pitch to the next level,” she gratefully shares.
Through Matsheshu Creations, she seeks to bolster community pride. “I am so proud to make a bridge between talented crafters and caring customers,” she says. Her mantra? Building her business as she builds her family.
For budding entrepreneurs, Raphaëlle’s advice is straightforward yet profound. “Surround yourself. There are so many people out there who can help you and inspire you. Connect with them. Keep an open mind. Believe in yourself and work hard.”
In wrapping up, Raphaëlle’s gratitude towards the Pow Wow Pitch community is evident. “Thank you for creating this amazing community,” she concludes, a gentle reminder of the strength and power in unity and shared dreams.
Register to watch Raphaël pitch at the Fashion Semi-Final Online Watch Party on September 15, 2023, at 7 PM ET and vote for Matsheshu Creations to win the 2023 People’s Choice Prize (#55) before September 17, 2023.