By Tracey Yeo
From her establishment in Thunder Bay, 27-year-old Angela Gamble, an Aboriginal young entrepreneur, has started something organically wonderful - her unique all-natural hand and body care store, Tepetis Treasures.
At age 11, Angela moved to Thunder Bay from Duck Lake Reserve, Beardy's and Okemasis, Sask. She remembers often watching her mother doing her nails, fixing her hair and taking care of herself. Now that she is older, she says, she too enjoys taking care of herself and that is one of the main reasons she wanted to open a store where she could make products that would benefit her skin and body. She also discovered she is "allergic to practically everything on the market," so she had no other choice but to try and make a product of her own, something that is all natural.
A few years ago she received an education in esthetics, pursued research in natural ingredients, and with the Aboriginal teaching from her grandmother she started making skin-care products of her own.
Soon after, her friends and family members were amazed with the results on her skin. They too wanted to try her products, she says.
"That's where the business started from," Gamble says. "After two to three weeks I started seeing the benefits to my skin and right away people started using it."
She decided to further educate herself by taking facial classes and massage and body wrap classes.
She went through the Aboriginal Business Service Network, which was very informative in areas where she needed more education, and was referred to the North Bay Training Centre, an Internet-based home study learning centre, where she studied business administration.
"It helped me a lot with the accounting and marketing skills I needed to open my business," she says.
After struggling for about a year searching for the finances she needed to start up her business, she contacted the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, where she received her first initial loan. She was now ready to begin.
She originally opened her store in May 2001, but recently moved to Donald Street, where she manufactures all products herself.
She has been sending out marketing letters to Aboriginal estheticians' directories in other provinces and since then has received a response from Six Nations, in Ontario, who would like to receive more information on her products. Her products are currently being distributed by a local esthetician who operates a day spa, as well as an alternative gift store in Niagara Falls.
She makes items such as bath and massage oils, facial and body creams, bath salts, soaps and much more.
"Everything I make is all natural," she says. "There are no chemicals and no preservatives. The only preservatives comes naturally from the ingredients."
She uses ingredients like aloe vera, oatmeal, herbs, plants, flowers, beeswax and Epsom salts.
"I do custom blends for customers for their specific skin types," she says. "Some people have combination skin so I blend products specifically for them."
With the skills she acquired from business courses, guidance from her mother, as well as Aboriginal teaching from her grandmother, she knows this is what she is happy doing and will continue to do for years to come.