Rez Kids Can Do Anything: Nativelovenotes Owner Amy Jackson Talks Loving Her Community and Healing With Humour
From a small storefront at 1116 Portage Ave., Amy Jackson pens love letters to her Indigenous community.
These notes expand beyond pen and paper to take the form of brightly-coloured posters declaring “rez kids can do anything,” opalescent “land back” stickers, and coffee mugs emblazoned with the words “colonizer tears.”
Amy moved to Winnipeg from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) in 2020 to pursue a masters in Native Studies. The intensity of her grad school program, plus the isolation of the pandemic, left Amy looking for a way to create joy in her own life that she could share with others.
As a self-taught designer, Amy began blending quips, memes, and feel-good mottos with bold fonts, bright colours, and nature motifs...plus plenty of checkered patterns to satisfy her “elder emo” aesthetic.
“I started spamming all of my friends with all these designs. And people were like, you need to make an Instagram account! Within the first week, we had 1,500 followers.”
The account where it all started? @nativelovenotes (an all-one-word spelling that Amy hasn’t abandoned since growing beyond Insta).
While her current stock is equal parts humorous, inspiring, and empowering, the heart of her work is in making others laugh. For Amy, laughter has always been a way to build and strengthen a community; laughing through the joyous and painful moments in life as a way to move forward together.
It should be known that Amy’s own scintillating laugh is sprinkled throughout our conversation, and she wears an ear-to-ear grin that manages to grow bigger still to greet every new customer that enters the store.
Amy opened her Portage Avenue storefront (a space she shares with Turtle Woman Indigenous Wear) in May of this year. Today, the small but inviting shop includes four shelves fully stocked with jewelry, prints, pins, language-learning notebooks, day planners, candles, body sprays, and more, as well as a rack of apparel. She’s even converted the backroom to be an e-commerce fulfillment space.
“I want this place to be a break from other places in Winnipeg that go out of their way to make native people feel uncomfortable. Let's be real about it, they do. I feel my strength is bringing people here and making them feel comfortable, having a laugh with them, sharing our products with them. You know, making them feel like they're part of the community.”
Growing up on OCN, Amy never imagined her future would include owning a business. She admits it was hard to imagine any sort of future at all.
“I didn't actually start thinking about my future until I was in my late 20s. My mom was a residential school survivor and because of that I had a lot of things to process when I became an adult. A lot of things to heal from.”
Navigating business ownership without any formal business training hasn’t stopped Amy from growing her shop. Back in May, she participated in Pow Wow Pitch where she placed second in the semifinals.
Today, Nativelovenotes ships across the world, with dedicated customers in New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut, and South America. Now, Amy and her team are hard at work opening a shop on Opaskwayak Cree Nation where she grew up.
“When I started to create, I thought about those angry rez kids who no one says nice things to. I thought about those depressed rez kids who feel like their life isn't going anywhere. And I thought about those kids who felt like they didn't have a future or never thought about their future before. That's why I created the “rez kids and do anything” graphic. I believe it with all my heart.”