Lutsel K’e residents recall the old craft shop that was once a community staple.
Terri Enzoe remembers the store being a spot where the women in town would sell art as their primary form of income. When the owner left town and the shop closed, many of those artists were left without a platform to market their products.
Almost 30 years later, the Lutsel K’e band office has launched an online store in its place.
Caribou People Creations is an avenue for artists and artisans to sell handcrafted products within the community and beyond.
Before the online store, Enzoe relied on word of mouth to sell her knit and sewn goods. She is pleased to have another means of sharing her work with a global audience.
“With tourists coming into the community and even our local people buying gifts for birthdays, I thought this was a good idea where we can sell our stuff anywhere in the world,” she said.
Rosie Catholique, the Caribou People Creations store manager, said the site presents an opportunity for crafters to leverage each other’s networks by congregating the products all in one place, especially as some of the older artists may not be as familiar with selling on an online platform, she said.
“Without this site, a lot of them wouldn’t have the opportunity to broadcast their stuff in such a way. It’s nice that there’s one site where they could go (to share their products),” she said.
Before the site launched last week, Catholique said residents were already selling their crafts at the band office – Caribou People Creations is just an extension of the community market. With holiday shopping season now in full effect, artists are eager to put their products on display.
“Sometimes you’ll come down there and there’s people lining up with their crafts,” she said.
Sonny Marlowe sells his carvings on the site, the first time he’s been a part of a formal shop since the former Lutsel K’e craft shop.
He said the store is not only good for the community’s economy, but also encourages youth to preserve their culture.
Marlowe learned to carve from watching Elders who always “gave (him) good advice.” Now, he said “young people sit with me. They watch me and how I (carve) and I tell them the best and safest way to do it.
“It’s good for the community. It’s good for young people to keep them out of trouble,” he said.
Marlowe takes great pride in his work and he said it’s important, for youth in particular, to see the finished product after hours of labour.
“You feel good after, especially when somebody tells you you did a good job, it makes you feel really good,” he said.
Caribou People Creations has been a year in the making.
“This has been a lot of work and a lot of us have actually helped out,” Catholique said. “Just to see it come to light and actually be launched and online, it’s amazing.”