Napash Arts is a Mother and Daughter Story of Success
By Roxann Shapwaykeesic
Napash Arts sells creations that are inspired by stories and legends in Indigenous culture. “People are interested in the stories that we have as Aboriginal people. This is the way we could share the stories; having wearable art and putting it out there,” says Janet Napash.
A family who did crafts together for fun has turned their creativity into a thriving business. Mother Janet Napash and daughter Alice Napash have around 100 unique items they’ve created for their online store, Napash Arts. “I come from a very creative family,” says Janet, who raised her children doing craft activities.
Alice fondly recalls making macaroni necklaces. “We dyed the macaroni with food colouring,” she says. Alice also remembers when she first learned how to bead on a loom with her mother at eight years old. “I really enjoyed it, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until a couple of years ago.”
The duo from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the east coast of James Bay each contribute their own strengths to the company. Janet originally painted as a hobby. “I probably have over 100 paintings I’ve done in the last six years,” she says. Her images are interpretations of traditional stories she heard growing up, as well as of traditional Cree lifestyles. “This is just my own interpretation of what I saw growing up and how I keep it alive,” she says.
Alice refers to her colour wheel to find themes for her unique beaded earring designs, which can be five to 18 inches in length. “I have really long hair, and my hair inspired the length of the really long [earrings],” she says. Alice also works with manufacturers to get the wearable art onto clothing like hoodies and T-shirts that will stay relevant for years to come. “I find manufacturers, usually Canadian-based, to get my mother’s images on types of clothing that we think people will still find fashionable 10 years down the line,” Alice says.
The business is Alice’s full-time job. She handles the marketing and does her own photography and modeling for their website and social media accounts. The two are naturally social people, where being out in the community has given them a feedback loop of positive energy and connection.
“You feel good providing something for somebody to feel good about,” Janet says. “Whether it’s the look, or the feel that they have when they wear our creations. It’s mutual. I see the energy it brings.”
Check out Napash Arts at napash-arts.ca and follow them on Facebook and Instagram @napash.arts.