An Interview with Young Entrepreneur Tsiokeriio (Diio) Brant of Red Bird Artisans based in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
Describe your business.
Red Bird Artisans is a business run by myself, Tsiokeriio (Diio) Brant from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. My mission is to bring a greater understanding and appreciation for Native American art, as well as incorporate newer materials into traditional works of art. My work focuses on the transformation of materials – both traditional and new mediums. The materials used are intended to reflect my cultural background – Mohawk. I specialize in bead work, jewelry, paintings and sculptures.
How long have you been here?
I have been creating for as long as I can remember. However, I have been running Red Bird Artisans since September 2011.
What brought you to the region?
I have lived in the Bay of Quinte region for most of my life. My family is from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
What makes the Bay Of Quinte region a good fit for your business?
Since my artwork incorporates a lot of pieces from the Mohawk culture, this area is perfect for my business, as it allows me to tell our stories through my art.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
Find something new, something that no one has done before, and build on it. Keep your dreams close, as they will help to keep you on track.
What surprised you about starting a business in a smaller community?
The one thing that surprised me the most is how many great opportunities there are for Indigenous artists in the area. There is usually an art show or two running that wants Native American artists, which I can appreciate. There are also a lot of events where I get the opportunity to set up a booth and showcase my pieces.
Describe your perfect day off.
My perfect day off would be a full day of uninterrupted beading. Beading to me is quite meditative.
What’s your secret to surviving winter?
In a business sense, I survive winter by picking up commission jobs, as well as helping out other small businesses in Tyendinaga. On a personal level, I try to keep myself busy by creating as much as I can so I don’t go stir-crazy.
What’s your favorite part of living in the BoQ?
My favorite part of living in the Bay of Quinte region is how the land carries stories. There is quite a bit of history here, if you’re willing to look for it. In Tyendinaga, we have so much history of our people, and that truly gives me a sense of pride to come from this area.
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