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Indigenous teen expands scrunchie business to Sudbury

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While most teens are hanging out at shopping malls, an Indigenous teen with ties to the Sudbury, Ont., area is expanding her business with a second location and is hoping to inspire others.

Mya Beaudry, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation north of Ottawa, started Kokom Scrunchies at the age of nine as a fundraiser to give back to the youth in her community.

Mya Beaudry started making Kokom Scrunchies when she was just nine years old. (Supplied)

Between her mother's basic sewing knowledge and videos on YouTube, Mya figured out how to make the popular hair accessory.

The scrunchies are made out of 'kokom' scarves, named after the Algonquin word for grandmother.

Over the last five years, she has added additional products to her arsenal, including headbands, shoelaces and ribbon skirt kits.

Kits to make Indigenous ribbon skirts. (Kokom Scrunchies)

The fabric is sourced from suppliers all over the world, with a preference for other Indigenous artists.

"We work with a lot of Indigenous designers," Mya's mom Marcie said.

"So when they come out with a new textile, we buy it and we make scrunchies and then sell the material."

Kokom Scrunchies

In November 2022, Kokom Scrunchies opened its first product vending machine at the Bayshore Shopping Mall in Ottawa as a test.

And just last weekend, Mya opened her second vending machine at the New Sudbury Centre mall.

Mya Beaudry, 13, opens a second Kokom Scrunchies vending machine located at New Sudbury Centre. May 11, 2024 (Supplied)

"The reason why I chose Sudbury was because my dad's side of the family lives there," the 13-year-old said in a Zoom interview with CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca.

"It's really easy for them to just go and fill up the vending machine."

She had lots of family support at the ribbon cutting ceremony, with her grandma speaking and her cousin, who is 'Little Miss Wiikwemikoong,' and drummers in attendance.

Marcie said her daughter has big goals and they are there to support her.

In addition to going to school and playing hockey, Mya works on her business packing orders three days a week and has recently hired an all-women manufacturing team of seven in Montreal to help with the sewing.

"We decided to start outsourcing some of our products because before everything was just created in our house," Marcie said.

"Like it started at our kitchen table and now we have a workshop, but you know, it's just easier to have a team of sewers to kind of help us achieve those goals."

Mya Beaudry (left) and her mom Marcie (right) of Kokom Scrunchies. (Supplied)

The proud mom said she is "constantly inspired" by her daughter.

Mya's advice to others thinking of staring a business is "start small, get a support team, set goals, take risks and always reinvest back into your business."

"I hope to inspire other youth on my journey. You're never too young or too old to follow your dreams. Where there is passion, there is a way," the young woman said in a video highlighting her experience. 

Mya Beaudry, CEO of Kokom Scrunchies, is a 13-year-old from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. (Supplied)

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