REGINA — For salon owner Jennifer Dubois, expansion was always part of the plan for Miyosiwin Salon Spa, but a recent grant win has bolstered her visions for the future at exactly the right moment.
Miyosiwin Salon in Regina is one of three recipients of a $50,000 grant award from the Mazda Canada Local Legends campaign, after an anonymous nomination from a member of the community put the salon on the shortlist.
The Local Legends campaign was developed to help small businesses across Canada who are dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Members of the public were asked to nominate businesses in their community they considered to be “local legends” and deserving of support.
Dubois, who is from George Gordon First Nation, said that to be named a top three finalist in the competition was both unexpected and very welcome.
“For us to be selected out of however many businesses is just overwhelming. It’s amazing and we’re super, super grateful,” said Dubois. “We did not expect it and it was definitely something we needed right now.”
Miyosiwin Salon was already recovering from a fire in 2018 that closed the business for nearly a year, when the pandemic arrived and created more hurdles over the past two years.
Now, Miyosiwin Salon is currently in the midst of a move to a new location on Broad Street, where Dubois said they will be expanding in size and practice.
Renovations at the new location uncovered some unexpected expenses, said Dubois, which ate up the savings she had set aside for a new outreach program from the salon.
The grant money will help replenish that funding, allowing Dubois follow through in launching a cosmetology training program aimed at making beauty courses accessible to Indigenous students in smaller communities.
Dubois explained that her salon is named after the Cree word for “beauty,” to reflect her focus on providing esthetic services that align and integrate with First Nation culture and practices.
“Everything we do revolves around First Nations culture and traditions,” said Dubois.
As a part of that mission, Dubois said that in addition to operating salon services, she is now looking to make beauty school courses more available to Indigenous youth who may be interested in enrolling but are facing obstacles like travel or childcare.
The program will offer training opportunities both inside the salon space as well as online, to make it accessible to all aspiring beauticians.
“It's going to be flexible, which helps kind of fill that gap for a lot of our First Nation youth,” said Dubois. “We feel that being able to offer training just gives them that boost and knowledge they need working with First Nations clients.”
Dubois said that the community of Regina has been overwhelmingly supportive of her business during the last few years, and this grant nomination is just more icing for her as a small business owner.
“Just knowing that somebody in our community took the time to nominate us is just phenomenal,” said Dubois. “All the things we’ve been through in the last five years, this just gives us a boost to be like, ‘okay, we’ve got another five years, no problem, we can do it.’
“We could have called it quits through all those phases, but just knowing that the community loves us as much as we love our business, that gives us the motivation to continue.”
She anticipates Miyosiwin Salon will be open once again in its new location in January, with the remote training program to hopefully begin sometime later in the spring.
Dubois also expressed appreciation to Mazda for running the grant campaign and offering much-needed support to small businesses like hers.
“We’re super appreciative of Mazda Canada, putting on such an award and incentive for small businesses,” said Dubois. “It just makes us want to be able to help others as well, to be able to give back.”