Ruhl, a proud member of the Ojibwe Tribe who has been a silversmith for 15 years,
When Candice Ruhl’s son encountered discrimination for the first time due to his Native heritage, she knew that she had to do something about it.
“I was really upset,” Ruhl told Native Business Magazine. “It touched home for me because I also grew up with that kind of discrimination, so I wanted to give him some positive reinforcement and a way to show he was proud of his heritage.”
So Ruhl, a proud member of the Ojibwe Tribe who has been a silversmith for 15 years, decided to use her craft to make a piece of jewelry her son could wear that would enable him to be proud of his heritage and culture, and stand up for himself too.
“I was thinking about what kind of symbol it would be for anyone who has encountered Native racism, or racism in general, and I just kept thinking I want him to stand tall and be proud of who he is,” she said. “Those words just kept ringing in my head and I realized a great symbol for that would be a totem pole.”
“If I could make a totem pole that was interchangeable, that had a different animal to represent a character or strength that he could customize, I thought that would be a great idea,” she said. “And that’s how the whole idea of this jewelry line came about.”
Today, Ruhl offers a full line of totem necklaces designed to reflect, inspire, and honor First Nation and Native people, culture, and heritage. All of the pieces are made from certified .925 Stirling silver on the Saugeen First Nation #29 reserve on the shores of Lake Huron. The line features three different sizes of totem bases and currently has ten different totems to choose from. The individual totems are interchangeable on the base, so customers can build and easily customize a wearable piece that truly represents them and their heritage.
“We didn’t want to leave anyone out, but we started with designs from the Pacific Northwest because they’re so recognizable,” she said. “We’re hoping to really expand with a lot of other Native animals, like a beaver and a frog. We also want to create some natural elements, but it’s really endless.”
Ruhl also said that her son, who inspired the collection, is working with her to add two new pieces to the collection—a butterfly and a dragonfly.
“I want anybody and everybody to be proud of their heritage, to show who they are and to be happy with their culture,” she said. “So many people in my age generation were almost ashamed of who they were.”
“With this line of jewelry, I hope to inspire the next generation to be really proud of who they are and not let anybody get them down,” she said.
You can view the jewelry line or purchase pieces at https://www.candiceruhl.com/.
Native Business Magazine
Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor
Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.
Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.
She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.