Indig Inc Co-Founder: Don’t Follow the Rules, Make Your Own

This is part two of a two-part series on Indig Inc.

More than an online marketplace for indigenous artisans, Indig Inc empowers its artist entrepreneurs through guidance and information. First off, the platform’s technology allows artisans to add their inventory personally via the Vendor Dashboard. (Read Part 1: Heather Abbey Funded Indig Inc With her Business Competition Winnings)

Indig Inc co-founder and CEO Heather Abbey, Cree from Little Pine First Nation, is also actively working to educate artisans through her website on the promotional basics: how to photograph your product, how to price your product, and even how to build a brand beyond Indig Inc’s online sales, such as setting up a tradeshow booth. “We’re offering them as much value as possible, so they can become well-rounded both online and in the real world. They can move forward whether it’s with us or without us,” Abbey said.

Abbey is up front about her commission rate—a flat 20 percent. That allows her to avoid tacking on any additional charges or unexpected fees.

“In the future we’ll be adding on an educational component about social media strategy. We’re just starting to work with Indigenous influencers,” she told Native Business Magazine.

Heather Abbey (Sweetmoon Photographer Tenille Campbell)

Indig Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram platforms are taking off. “A lot of what we do involves sharing other artisans’ content and other designers’ content. Basically, sharing the good that is out there in the indigenous world. We want to highlight indigenous gifts as a whole.”

While her social media strategy is spot-on today, that wasn’t always the case, she admits. Her e-commerce iteration prior to launching Indig Inc in 2017 was ShopIndig.ca.

“With the first website, I followed what you are supposed to do, so I set a very strict posting schedule. Now I’ve grown such a large network that I just enjoy it. I post when I want to. I post anything beautiful that I think would capture audience’s eyes. I think that this time around, it shows that I enjoy my work. We have our own make-up artists who does all of these cool looks inspired by tribes around the world. Her name is Kristen Cooking Munro. We’re actively searching for content contributors now and trying to include other voices.

Indig Inc Resident Makeup Artist Kristen Cooking Munro with her Fancy Dancer Inspired Mask. More of her work can be viewed on our Indig Inc Facebook Page @ IndigInc.ca.

Indig Inc is inundated with requests from different organizations for paid product placement and for sponsorships. But so far, Abbey has turned them all down, “because I feel that that wouldn’t be authentic or true coming from me. Right now, I post whatever I feel is worth sharing. It’s an exciting time for us. As long as we can keep promoting the good and as long as we can keep promoting indigenous entrepreneurs, indigenous artisans, and indigenous e-commerce as a whole then, no matter what direction we take, I’ll be happy,” she said.

Her advice to up and coming entrepreneurs?

“I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and the number one thing that I tell them is don’t follow the rules. When I followed the rules for my first business hard and fast. I thought there were rules that I needed to adhere to in order to move forward. What I quickly found out was that when I followed my heart, it led me into the best moments of my entrepreneurial life,” she said. “My advice is: don’t follow the rules, make your own. Make smart decisions and know that it’s all on you. You have to put in the effort and put in the work. There are going to be times when everyone is going out or doing something, but you’re going to have to sit home because you have figure out what your strategy is or what your business plan is or perform some mundane task that is going to make your business happen. If you put in 100 percent, then that’s when the good happens—after all those late nights and after all those long hours and after all those emotional highs and lows. If you stick with it and do your best and move forward in a good way then it will all happen for you.”

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