Semi-Finalist Spotlight on Angelo McHorse, Bison Star Naturals
Meet Angelo McHorse, Owner of Bison Star Naturals from Red Willow People Of Taos Pueblo, Northern New Mexico. Angelo is a Pow Wow Pitch USA Semi-Finalist. We sat down with Angelo to learn more about him, his business and his reflections on entrepreneurship.
PWP: Angelo, what were your motivations for becoming an entrepreneur?
AM: Bison Star was born when my wife and I had our first child.
After trying a couple of different career paths, I found out that there was no escape from the rigid 9 to 5 schedule that takes one away from the responsibilities of tending family, home, land, and culture.
Having your own business gives you the freedom to prioritize your time for the most important things in your life besides work.
My goal is to achieve financial freedom, with my family, in my homeland community and create generational wealth. When I accomplish this dream, it will serve as a model of economic sovereignty for my community.
PWP: Can you tell us more about Bison Star Naturals?
AM: Bison Star Naturals produces high-quality lotions and other liquid body care products for all skin types, including those with sensitive needs.
We research and develop our own unique formulas that meet industry standards for quality and shelf life.
We are in the scaling stage of the business, where we need to invest in our production capacity to have a more extensive inventory in stock and the ability to release new products.
One of our goals is to release new products to complete our body care suite, including Body Wash, Shampoo, and a Conditioner.
Bison Star Naturals impacts the overall body care market by offering clean and high-quality products as an alternative to the synthetic and potentially harmful products currently available.
On a local level, Bison Star is employing members of our community as we make our products in-house. We also provide exposure and sales opportunities for Taos Pueblo Artisans through our Featured Artisans Page on our Website.
Everyone associated with Bison Star Naturals benefits from the broad reach of our online presence and promotion through all social media platforms we utilize.
PWP: Congratulations on growing Bison Start to where it is today and on lifting others in your community! What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
AM: Creating my schedule to prioritize Family Time and cultural participation has been the most rewarding part of the entrepreneurial journey.
When one has to submit to a 9 to 5 career path, it can be challenging to meet all of the demands of life beyond work.
PWP: What has been the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur?
AM: When you have complete control of your schedule, you must be the sole motivator for yourself and your business.
Being an entrepreneur means you have to stay consistent with your efforts toward the growth of your business and the needs of life beyond work.
The funny thing about freeing yourself from a 9 to 5 job through entrepreneurship is that you swap the 9 to 5 schedule to a 24/7 schedule. You can never ‘leave your work at the job site’; there is always something to be done.
PWP: What are you most proud of so far?
AM: In 2021, Bison Star Naturals reached a new plateau by completing the #bisonstarbuild that was started in the Summer of 2019.
The #bisonstarbuild is a 1300 sq ft workshop that we use to make small batches of our products and fulfill wholesale and online retail orders with our packing and shipping station.
The #bisonstarbuild was completed from the ground up through the sales of our products and without taking any loans or private funding.
We are most proud of this fact because it demonstrates the sustainability of our organic growth business model.
PWP: Why did you choose to apply for Pow Wow Pitch?
AM: Pow Wow Pitch was recommended to us by a friend. We were excited to participate as we are always looking for new opportunities to share the story of Bison Star Naturals and build up a network of like-minded indigenous entrepreneurs. Not to mention the potential for great exposure and the chance to take home some prize money to propel Bison Star Naturals to the next level.
I have loved learning about all the other dedicated and hardworking entrepreneurs throughout Turtle Island. We cannot wait to see what collaborations and learning may come of these connections in the future.
I have also benefited from mentorship from Harpreet Grewal and Michal Cwicklinski from RBC in preparation for our Semi-Final pitch. Harpreet encouraged me to share our story, and Michal underscored the importance of sharing our community impact activities.
PWP: What advice do you have for Indigenous people thinking of starting up a business?
AM: Go ‘all in’ and make your life depend on the success of your business. If you keep your entrepreneurial endeavours limited to a ‘side hustle,’ your business won’t be sustainable and may always depend on income from a job.
Use all the free social media platforms to document your journey to attract your audience and guide them to your products or services.
Think long-term and stick to the plan.
Be consistent and persevere even through the lean times, living underneath your means to invest in your business.
PWP: Thank you for chatting with us, Angelo! Good luck with the Semi-Finals.
You can support Angelo to reach the Pow Wow Pitch Finals by voting for him for the People’s Choice Prize. Click here to vote for Angelo. You can also watch Angelo Pitch at the USA Semi-Finals Live on September 25, 2021, at 6 PM ET Click here to register to watch.