Connect with us

Anishinabek News

Style and compassion at Anishwe

Published

on

The founder and creative at Anishwe is Whitney Couchie. A portion of profits from Anishwe designer clothing and the artwork of many talented artists will be offered to support people who are struggling to be homed.

By Kelly Anne Smith

NORTH BAY — Anishwe is a way of being: a shop in North Bay; a design studio with designer clothing and art workshops; a trading post of artists and northern makers; and more importantly, a community.

The studio’s name Anishwe, means an Anishnaabe way, explains founder and creative Whitney Couchie, from Duchesnay in Nipissing First Nation. Along with partner Anthony Beaucage from Garden Village, Nipissing First Nation, they bring their art and offerings from a vibrant, creative space on Main Street in North Bay, Ont.

They are very welcoming, even offering a sage smudge, while their young son watches over the shop and his own art making.

Anthony helps artists to be represented at Anishwe. He consults and works with vendors and communicates with organizations in the region. Whitney produces the creations of Anishwe.

Opening the studio late fall, Whitney worked with Anthony on the designs for the Anishwe line of clothing.

“We decided together. Our first shirt was the wolves around the moon. That was to bring awareness of unity – bringing people back into a pack, a community working together and helping one another out. We also created a design of a beaver. We are still working on it. That’s our clean water shirt.”

Whitney rejoices in the art at Anishwe.

“I have projects of shirts here. Everything is done by me. It’s a lot of fun creating. I just did a silver one instead of gold. Someone requested it. We do custom work as well.”

Anishwe the trading post is a wonderful gallery; it offers different items and that they are not all Indigenous.

“It’s a collective of different artists that we really enjoy. We’ve met them at the markets and shows. It’s a great space to display.”

The studios believe that every piece has a story.

“If we have a good idea who the artist is and what their history is and the story of why they chose a bear or a wolf, it helps to bridge that with the customer. They feel more connected to the items.”

Designing runs in the family. Whitney welcomes work by Uncle Reno Couchie into the shop with his own apparel, Red Road Digital Designs.

“He has a shirt with the ‘Little NHL.’ The proceeds of that, 30 percent, will go towards the kids that are playing in Little NHL that, say, need equipment or the family needs gas or food, examples like that. The funds will go right to them to help out.”

Whitney then gives an Anishwe tour of several vendors.

“We have the wonderful Candy’s Dandy Crafts, who makes beaded items, moccasins, and gloves. So many of the big items have sold. She had a beautiful 3D hummingbird made of beads. It was so nice. That one went really fast.”

“Jessica Summers paints on feathers. She has her own designs she has put on puzzles and stickers. And the wood – she paints on pieces of wood she has found.”

“Soulwork Aroma Boutique, they do crystal-infused candles with different themes and little potions.”

“Carl Ralph is the art curator who brought in most of the paintings. He was looking for a place to display them and liked the vibe here. When a painting gets sold, a portion will be split. For us, the curator, but also the artist or the family of the artist.”

“Designs by Stay – Steven Brunette – he is our designer as well, but he makes a lot of random, neat art pieces. He has the skull there. He said that took him about a week, using the hide to form it.”

“We have some artwork by Talia here, beautiful earrings and we have Focal Point Artistry.”

“Twenty Two Dreams makes really interesting pieces with marble and stone. She has held workshops with Anishwe for people to customize their own jewellery.”

“Here is Mercurial Things Boutique. She woodworks. She makes the wood pieces like this and infuses some of them with crystals.”

“We have some of Grumpy Toad pieces hanging here. Very unique. Very cool. Eventually we want to have sustainable clothing and items. That way it’s better for the planet. We are looking for less plastic and chemicals.”

Intent to build on the community as part of the venture, Anishwe pledges to give 30 per cent of profits back to support people who are without homes.

“It’s profits but I like to say it is money that I never had anyway. It’s giving back,” says Whitney.

Anthony hopes to help and donate to the Foodbank, too, whether it’s food or items for the volunteers who are working.

“The great story about this is, when I was going to school here in North Bay, I would donate all my time to the North Bay Foodbank for my volunteer hours,” he recalls. “I ended up having such a great time meeting all these people that I never thought I’d meet. One of those people was Amber Livingstone. She also happens to be a person that helps and is the Downtown Improvement Area Executive Director. When we met again, it was like a full circle of us all coming together. It’s an honour to be part of the downtown, and we hope to use our funding and put that back out to the community. That way the full circle keeps completing.”

Whitney shows kindness while interacting with people that might be struggling.

“It’s about talking to them like they are people, not something else with a perceived notion that’s towards them. We are trying to directly give it to the people versus giving it to a big organization.”

There are many art pieces for a customer or collector to consider and Anishwe is ready to support more.

“We meet lots of new people everyday. When you talk to them, you find out they have art skills or they make things. We are inviting those that are interested.”

Anishwe is ripe for growth.

“It’s a wild concept for me. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing. I’m excited for it. I’m thrilled with the help of everybody. We are thankful for anybody who has ever helped out. And thankful for the future to come. It’s been exciting.”

Continue Reading

Anishinabek News

Indigenous Institutes post-secondary education on the brink of collapse

Published

on

By

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION (February 27, 2024) – The February 26, 2024, announcement of $1.3 billion over three years for colleges and universities by the Ontario government once again prioritizes […]

Continue Reading

Anishinabek News

Administration Support Worker

Published

on

By

Post Content

Continue Reading

Anishinabek News

Child Well-Being Worker

Published

on

By

Post Content

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 5039589 Ontario Inc.