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Founder of Indigenous skincare brand delivers valuable lesson on business

Satya skincare’s Patrice Mousseau teaches North Vancouver elementary school students about entrepreneurship in hands-on workshop

A group of inspired Sherwood Park Elementary school students might just be the North Shore’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Patrice Mousseau, an Anishinaabe member of the Fort William First Nation and founder of North Vancouver skincare brand Satya Organics, led a class workshop on Friday as part of a larger, day-long event on Indigenous business.

Mousseau taught the students to channel Indigenous knowledge and use natural ingredients to craft salves and bath bombs, enhancing the session with informative business tidbits and insight into her own journey of success.

“She not only talked about Indigenous culture and skincare, but the bigger picture of how to be an entrepreneur. She told of how her story started and how a business like hers can really be created by anyone,” said Helen Cranstoun, the school’s Grade 6/7 teacher.

“She broke down the financial literacy of how to create a product, what costs look like and what it means to have a revenue profit.”

The workshop bolstered the Grade 6 students’ confidence and encouraged them to be less fearful of the often intimidating world of business, said Cranstoun.

“I can really tell that they now feel like anyone can start a business. If you really have a problem that you’re solving that you really believe in, and you have perseverance and you don’t give up, then anyone can do this.”

Mousseau, who has watched Satya grow from a small passion project to a multinational business, said she hoped the event helped the students understand that working in business can be accessible to everyone.

“There’s no reason whatsoever that they can’t go out and start their own business as well,” she said. “It is absolutely possible for them to recognize that entrepreneurship isn’t just for certain people, it’s for all people and you can decide what it is that you want to accomplish in the world. What problems you want to solve and what things interest you.”

When Mousseau first began crafting skincare – at home with a second hand, $15 crockpot in 2012 – it wasn’t with business in mind, but a response to her baby daughter’s recent eczema diagnosis, and a backlash against the toxic, fragrance-laden lotions that were suggested by doctors.

Word spread of Mousseau’s all-natural, Indigenous-made products, and before long other parents were flocking to her North Vancouver kitchen to try it for themselves. Selling at farmers markets on the weekend snowballed into nationwide stores like Whole Foods and Shopper Drugs Mart stocking Satya, and now products are available in thousands of stores throughout Canada, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Satya’s repertoire of products has expanded to encompass balms, salves and bath products, and just last month the brand was announced as a recipient of $200,000 worth of government funding – enabling it to expand production even further.

“Letting people know that success like this exists in the world is important. That business can be just as much about helping people as it can be about making a profit,” said Mousseau.

“I didn’t go to business school, in fact I didn’t go to any school. We’ve always been told why we can’t do things, and most of it is gatekeeping to keep us from pursuing our dreams and ideas. More people could be pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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