Innovative department concept housing over 30 Indigenous brands and collaborations with Indigenous artists
Chelsee Pettit was always passionate about fashion as a means of artistic expression. She is a member of Aaamjiwnaang First Nations but, growing up in Sarnia, ON, she struggled to keep her roots in her heritage while fitting in with white society. Seeing the conditions and lack of pride that has been instilled in many Indigenous youth, Chelsee became determined to create a better future through leading by example and showing them that they can maintain their cultural identity while succeeding in the modern world.
At 26 years old, she founded Aaniin Retail Inc., an innovative department concept housing over 30 Indigenous brands and collaborations with Indigenous artists. Her company acts as both an online platform and physical storefront in downtown Toronto – allowing her vision of connecting people from all walks and phases of life through creativity, education, artistry & business reach even further.
Despite having no college degree, but over 8 years experience in retail management – Chelsee believes that everyone has something unique to offer the world – thus providing hands-on learning opportunities for those looking to upskill themselves significantly. In her view, alternative sources of education and knowledge are vital to allowing youth to find their passions.
Chelsee is an inspiring leader and mentor whose mission is to give Indigenous youth the tools they need for success. Through her work, she has helped many people reach their highest aspirations, proving that anything can be achieved with enough determination. Aaniin creates a direct impact to the Indigenous economy by allowing a wide demographic to shop online and in store. Designers that she showcases range from individuals living on reserve to those in the heart of Toronto. Her fashion pieces are intended to start conversations for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across Turtle Island – showing the world that we are still here and the future is Indigenous and bright.
In addition to her online and in-store platform, Chelsee is a frequent speaker at events, podcasts and panel discussions on the topic of unlocking the deep Indigenous economy and empowering Indigenous youth. She has hosted fashion shows and events to elevate and showcase her own creations and those of other designers. Chelsee has been awarded over $21,000 in small business grants from companies including MasterCard, American Express and Shopify.
Chelsee’s journey and success have been chronicled through features in a number of news sources:
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