Coady graduate Mallory Yawnghwe is the Founder and CEO of Indigenous Box – a custom gifting and seasonal subscription box company that procures their products exclusively from Indigenous entrepreneurs.
“We bring Indigenous values into modern commerce, where we’re elevating and building the community, and creating and strengthening the Indigenous supply chain,” Mallory explains.
In 2021, Mallory and her husband and business partner, Kham, pitched Indigenous Box to an organization that offers start-up grants for Indigenous entrepreneurs. Their pitch earned them a $5,000 investment. One year later, the company has earned more than one million dollars in revenue.
“We’ve been so fortunate because that means that hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone back into the pockets of Indigenous entrepreneurs, promoting the Indigenous economy, strengthening the Canadian economy, and doing what we said we would do to elevate and champion Indigenous people in a way that is from us, made with us in mind, but for everybody to enjoy,” Mallory says.
“This story isn’t about me. It isn’t about us building this business. It’s about our community coming together and people seeing how, if we just work together, we can do some pretty incredible things.”
Mallory, who is from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, came to StFX in 2016 as a participant in Coady Institute’s award-winning Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Program.
“It was an opportunity for me to talk about social enterprise, talk about what that could look like from an Indigenous lens, and also to hear all the perspectives of the other women who were all on their own journeys,” she says reflecting on her experience.
In 2020, the Institute launched a campaign to expand their programmatic offerings for Indigenous leaders which led to a million-dollar fundraising campaign and the creation of the Circle of Abundance – led by an advisory group of Indigenous women leaders from across Turtle Island. Mallory is an active member of the advisory group.
“With the Circle of Abundance, my relationship with Coady has now come full circle – where I get to participate in providing a good space for other women to flourish.”
Mallory says the key to the business’ success is simple: “connection”.
“Every post that I read, every unboxing video I see, people are talking about connections – understanding where they come from, understanding their responsibility to be allies, or finding connection within their own community, within their own nations.”
Mallory emphasizes that Indigenous Box isn’t just a business, but a movement.
“You know, this story isn’t about me. It isn’t about us building this business. It’s about our community coming together and people seeing how, if we just work together, we can do some pretty incredible things.
My role as a Cree woman, as an Nehiyaw woman, is to build relationships, to strengthen our community, to be a gateway to the beauty and the legacy that we hold as Indigenous people.”