A Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan business is one of 15 finalists in Canada Post’s Tales of Triumph contest.
Kaila Lefort, who creates and markets Indigenous beadwork jewelry, told CTV News she felt honored to be on the list.
“It’s a very vulnerable thing to submit an application about something you’re so passionate about. It’s your small business, right,” the Mahkan Designs owner said.
“I think it’s great that Canada Post is recognizing small businesses and trying to help out as much as they can. This year, there are lots of really good contestants on the finalist panel. And I think each and every one of them would be well-served to win.”
Lefort’s goal is to share her Indigenous culture and art with the world.
She said she sketched out every design and created it all by hand.
“I can always picture things that I want to do,” she said, saying she often sees things online that inspire her.
“I don’t copy anything. I always make things my own. But I’ll take three different designs and say I like this piece of that one. I like this part of this one and this one and try and combine them all.”
One goal she has for every piece she creates is to design something that can be worn every day.
“I try to keep my pieces wearable, so they’re not too big, that people feel comfortable wearing them like every day.”
She also uses unique materials in her designs.
“I do use porcupine quills and deer antlers, just cut up the deer antlers on my pieces. I take the porcupine quills and I harvest those myself and I prepare them. And for the deer antlers we find the antlers ourselves,” she said.
She said that beading was something she learned from her mother and sister.
“From there, I kind of just kept practicing and trying different designs,” Lefort said.
“I kind of looked online at different videos and self-taught that way too.”
While she was happy with the business, Lefort said there were still some things she’d like to improve.
“I think my beading has definitely improved, but it’s not exactly where I want it to be. So there’s always room for improvement. So I’m still working on it.”