MASHTEUIATSH – A new fashion design company, Mikuniss Collection, has just been created in Saguenay –Lac-Saint-Jean. The owner, Valéry Larouche, is finishing the layout of her studio in Mashteuiatsh, before embarking on the creation of her first collection.
A graduate in fashion design, Ms. Larouche wishes to offer clothing and accessories that showcase her artistic and cultural influences. The designer draws a lot of inspiration from the First Nations, in different ways depending on the collections. “I will have a basic, more unisex line with hoodies, t-shirts, pants and shirts. This will promote indigenous artists and artisans, such as those who make beadwork, painters. I will have a more “ fashion ” component, focused on women's ready-to-wear. For this, I will rely on the upgrading of fabrics, natural materials. I will present a third selection for which I will work with fur and leather, with a view to sustainable development. I want to recover old coats, scraps, to reuse them. Eventually, I will have accessories, like backpacks, handbags, belts, scarves, etc. “, she explains.
This first collection is expected in the fall. A fashion show will be organized to present it, in collaboration with two other businesses in Mashteuiatsh. “I am working on creating patterns, so that I can then make my first pieces,” says the young entrepreneur.
Located in the Robertson Fourrure building, the premises chosen had already been fitted out to accommodate a sewing workshop. However, Valéry Larouche had to acquire nine industrial sewing machines, as well as irons and presses, a major investment. You have to think that the company's first income will come in only when the collection is launched, this fall.
Ms. Larouche was, however, able to count on the support of several organizations in the realization of her project. She first obtained support as part of the Mashteuiatsh community recovery plan. She is also one of the local winners of the OSEntreprendre Challenge.
The entrepreneur also recently learned, during the First Nations Regional Economic Circle, that she had won a $25,000 scholarship from the Cégep de Saint-Félicien in collaboration with Écofaune Boréale to launch her business. “It represents almost 50% of the amount I needed. The search for financing, in female Aboriginal entrepreneurship, is something difficult. This scholarship really comes to remove a stress. It took a big weight off my shoulders,” she says. Valéry Larouche plans to use part of this amount to create a transactional website where she can sell her clothes.
The designer finally launched a fundraiser (link is external) on La Ruche in order to complete its financing. Tickets for the fashion show scheduled for the fall are on sale there. The amount generated by this campaign will be used mainly for the acquisition of fabric inventories as well as the purchase of equipment.
A resident of Alma, Ms. Larouche considered it essential to set up her business in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. “Coming back to the region was really important to me. I am proud to come from here, to offer products that will be created locally and that will enhance the workforce and the economy here,” she underlines.
It was particularly close to his heart to open his business in Mashteuiatsh. “I wanted to set up my production workshop in the community to create jobs and contribute to economic development. »
Even if Mikuniss Collection will initially be operated solely by the entrepreneur, she wants to establish her first job in a year and a half. “In Mashteuiatsh, there are many good artisans and good seamstresses. There are opportunities to create positions in the near future. I met people willing to offer courses to train resources. This is something we would like to develop. It is certain that for the growth of the company, it will require employees, ”assures Valéry Larouche.
mention that Ms. Larouche will carry out a research and development project with Écofaune Boréale, the Collegial Center for Technology Transfer in Northern Fur, in order to develop her own fish leather tanning process. This is a fairly unique project in Quebec, since this type of leather, described as exotic, is mainly found in Europe. The designer wants to use local species, which are already fished for food, and therefore the skin is currently a waste. “I want to develop eco-responsible tanning and that's what I'm going to work on with Écofaune Boréale,” she concludes.