What started as an entrepreneurship course has created a local movement to help educate and inform about Indigenous cultures. As part of a New Venture class in university, Tribal Trade Co. owner Mallory Graham brainstormed the idea of an Indigenous retail and cultural information centre in the Peterborough area.
“Part of exploring our entrepreneurial potential in this class was asking ourselves what are the most common questions we get asked and building a business model from there,” explains Tribal Trade CEO and Founder Mallory Graham. “For me, I was most commonly asked about my Indigenous heritage.”
With what started as a retail store, Tribal Trade Co. has grown and expanded into a cultural education hub for the Peterborough area. “We utilize online content like blogging and YouTube to help reach new audiences,” says Mallory. “For me, building bridges between Indigenous peoples and Indigenous allies is paramount to what we do.”
“As we continue to evolve, we have expanded more and more into the education space,” explains Mallory. “I like to describe and define our mission as helping people become more educated and informed about Indigenous cultures and the historic significance of Native giftware.”
Using her own personal experiences and cultural upbringing, Mallory has successfully created both a retail space and an online community specializing in closing the knowledge gap around Indigenous cultures.
“Throughout my life, I have often been asked about key topics such as the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the government,” says Mallory. “Growing up in the way I did, I never realized that these concepts weren’t widely understood. Enhancing the understanding of not only Indigenous culture but also challenges facing Indigenous communities has become the root of Tribal Trade Co.’s business model.”
As part of her business and community involvement, Mallory values the support from the Peterborough community.
“Through Tribal Trade Co., I have become a sort of youth and Indigenous ambassador in the community. This ambassadorship has led me to meet some incredible people in our community,” says Mallory.
As part of their retail offerings, Tribal Trade Co. offers traditional Native gifts and products such as moccasins, clothing, accessories, and cultural gifts such as dreamcatchers and smudging kits. “We pride ourselves on offering a wide selection of physical and knowledge-based products,” says Mallory. “The connection of tribal people from local First Nations to everywhere across turtle island is vital to our business mission.”
In addition to retail and online shopping, Tribal Trade Co. also offers online workshops and Indigenous cultural learning programs for anyone who wishes to participate.
“Twice a year, we open enrollment to our Smude Circle Program,” explains Mallory. “This program is based on several core Anishinaabe teachings such as the medicine wheel, Indigenous worldview, 7 grandfather teachings, and the traditional practice of smudging as a way to help educate both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This program covers the cultural significance of these important teachings, and how to apply them to your everyday life in order to undergo a personal transformation and achieve higher resiliency.”
For Mallory, inspiring Indigenous youth to explore entrepreneurship, improve their online skills and value personal development is a top priority.
“I want to create a movement that young Indigenous people in Curve Lake can look to feel inspired and proud of their culture. As a member of the Curve Lake First Nation, Anishinaabeg, I am proud of how we have been able to grow Tribal Trade Co. “
When chatting about what’s next for Tribal Trade Co., Mallory shares more about their current bid to offer paid internships for Indigenous youth online. “I want to be able to help build different types of skill sets in Indigenous youth of all backgrounds. As part of this work, I hope we can continue to help educate and bridge the knowledge gap about Indigenous culture.”
For more information about Tribal Trade Co., visit their online store at tribaltradeco.com, their retail location at 1420 Mississauga St, Curve Lake, ON. You can also find Mallory and Tribal Trade Co. on YouTube at youtube.com/c/tribaltradeco.