The phrase ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ could be taken literally when talking about fashion and Indigenous streetwear.
We express ourselves by what we choose to wear. For many urban Indigenous people seeking to reclaim their culture after generations of colonial disruptions, streetwear has become one of the most visual forms of taking back space.
It’s unclear just how much of the $27.5 billion Canadian apparel market is made up of Indigenous brands, but what is clear is the noticeable rise of the Indigenous fashion market.
The 15 Percent Pledge in Canada has resulted in massive retailers like Hudson’s Bay and diversifying their shelves and mannequins to better include Indigenous-owned fashion lines.
Knowing that hundreds of thousands of animals are farmed for their fur in Canada each year and that manufacturing a pair of Levi’s produces greenhouse gases at the same rate as driving for 128 km, Indigenous apparel brands are driven by cultural values to be as sustainable and environmentally-friendly as possible.
Based on “the biggest reserve in Canada… Winnipeg,” as he puts it, Red Rebel Armour founder Sean Rayland-Boubar is one of those brands amplifying Indigenous teachings through urban streetwear.
A member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Treaty 1 territory, Rayland-Boubar shares with Shop First Nations how much of a difference getting his brand in Hudson’s Bay has made, the meaning and teachings behind his logo, and the healing journey he has undertaken to become the entrepreneur he is today.
What is the reason you started your business? What did you do before starting this business?
I started my business to help my community and to create inter-generational wealth.
Is your business online? Physical locations? Where can people buy your products? Please list all places customers can buy your products/services.
People can purchase online at the Hudson's Bay Company in Winnipeg and also the INAC store at Polo Park.
How many employees do you have?
Tell us a major win for your business/ big accomplishment.
A major win is signing on with the Bay, and creating one full time job for one of our relatives returning back to the community and saving the federal government an estimated +100$k through our employment service.
Tell us about some roadblocks or challenges you have encountered during establishing your business.
No access to capital and no industry knowledge to start. I was self taught. I flipped my income tax money, used all the free trials I could, I got sober from hard drugs and alcohol, racism, discrimination, lateral violence, gangs, and self doubt.
Tell us about some future dreams for your business.
My future is to create as many jobs as I could for my relatives returning back to the community.
How do you advertise for your business?
Paid ads, social media.
What influence does Indigenous culture have on your business?
We've incorporated culture all the way through from our brand voice and designs to how we procure and produce our pieces.
Is there a meaning behind your logo? Tell us about it.
Yes our logo is represented by the turtle which represents truth in the seven teachings. The teaching of truth is to know the rest of the teachings. So when you Red Rebel Armour you're walking in your truth.
How has your family played a part in your business?
Red Rebel Armour would not be possible without the support from my family especially my life partner Jaylee Govereau.
Any of your website links, videos, social media posts, or marketing campaigns you’d like us to highlight (help draw attention/traffic to)?