Cameron’s entrepreneurial spirit started by making cookies at age 12
By Sam Laskaris
The fact Michelle Cameron has a pair of thriving businesses shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
That’s because Cameron, a member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba who is now 46, had an entrepreneurial spirit even before she was a teenager.
Cameron was 12 years old when she launched her first business. Each day she would make several dozen cookies and send them with her mother, who worked as a payroll administrator, to sell at her place of employment.
That venture lasted about a year.
“It kind of started my journey of entrepreneurship,” said Cameron, whose previous money-making initiatives also included launching a homemade pizza and wing business.
For the past dozen years, however, Cameron has served as the CEO of Dreamcatcher Promotions, which has become the largest Indigenous-owned promotional company in Canada.
Cameron’s business offers promotional items including apparel, bags and office items.
Before rebranding as Dreamcatcher Promotions in 2013, Cameron’s company was called Dreamcatcher Embroidery.
She started her home business after buying an embroidery machine on Kijiji.
“I self-taught myself embroidery,” she said. “I watched YouTube videos. And I practiced making things for 2-3 months.”
In the early days of her business, Cameron continued to work as a daycare co-ordinator. She was often working 18 hours per day.
She eventually quit her daycare position.
“I didn’t want to give up on my dream,” she said. “But I had to make sure I had enough clients to give up my full-time job.”
Then in June of 2021, Cameron launched a second company, Indigenous Nations Apparel Co. (INAC), which sells Indigenous apparel and gifts. Besides having an e-commerce site, INAC opened up a retail store at Winnipeg’s Polo Park, Manitoba’s largest mall.
Cameron will provide details of her success stories at this year’s Cando Conference, scheduled for June 26-29 in Membertou, N.S.
She is one of four individuals that will be speaking at the conference’s Women in Business panel. The panel, held annually at the conference, recognizes and highlights the major impacts Indigenous women entrepreneurs have on the Canadian economy.
Besides being chosen to be a part of Cando’s Women in Business panel, Cameron has been singled out for a pair of prestigious accolades this year.
For starters, she received the Indigenous Business of the Year Award of Excellence, for her Dreamcatchers Promotions work, from the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, during a ceremony in April in Gatineau, Que.
Cameron was also presented with the National Indigenous Business of the Year award, organized by CanadianSME, a publication which recognizes small businesses.
Cameron has no intentions of slowing down.
INAC now has a second location in Saskatoon. And she’s currently looking at a site to expand to Alberta. Expansion to other provinces is also on the horizon.
Cameron has also reached a deal with The North West Company, a popular grocery and retail business, to have 80 mini INACs (a store within a store) throughout western Canadian provinces.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” Cameron said. “I’ve turned my own little business into a multi-million-dollar business.”