Louie Gong (Nooksack) chose the business name "Eighth Generation" to acknowledge that opportunity is a result of the collective effort of the previous 7 generations. Thus, we view our projects - whether they focus on art, business or anywhere in between - as essentially collaborations with our ancestors. With this in mind, please help us celebrate by browsing this visual list of ways in which we kicked ass in 2015.
1. After five years of planning and saving, we proudly became the first Native-owned company ever to offer wool blankets. Our corresponding Indiegogo campaign (see video below) raised over $60,00 in less than three weeks, affirming that people truly understand the importance of supporting Inspired Natives, not Native-inspired. The first wool blanket designs included “Thunderbird Arrives”, a collaboration with the Evergreen State College Longhouse, and the "Salish Pattern" blanket.
When the first blankets arrived, our team shared a modest toast to over 5 years of planning and saving. Louie, our founder, is our only full time staff person...at least for a few more weeks.
2. Our small but rapidly growing operation was able to donate $25,000 in beautiful blankets to the Longhouse so they could celebrate 20 years of service. In exchange, they're hosting and administering the Eighth Generation "Inspired Natives Grant" for emerging arts entrepreneurs. This exchange of goodwill is a strong indicator of what is possible when we all work together.
3. Our partnership with Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe) through the Inspired Natives Project hit the one-year mark in November - and Sarah was proud to report that this year, as a result of our capacity-building efforts through the collaboration, she quadrupled the income from her art!
Let's see what happens in 2016, when we launch her beautiful wool blanket.
4. To celebrate the President of China's visit to Seattle in October, Louie was asked to create a gift. In a little under two weeks, with numerous other deadlines looming, he painted a version of his Guardian Lion/Fu Dog design on a cedar bentwood box (made by his Uncle Peter Gong), and presented it to Mayor Ed Murray!
5. Our media presence got big boosts this year! During our crowdfunding campaign for the wool blankets, we were featured in numerous media, including this Mic.com story. And Louie was recognized as one of Indian Country Today’s “50 Faces of Indian Country”. We’re proud that our efforts are getting noticed.
6. Louie was honored to give numerous keynote addresses this year, including the Students of Color Conference, the Faculty and Staff of Color Conference, Our Native American Business Entrepreneur Network (ONABEN), and at the Gates Millennium Scholars’ Leadership Conference - where our star Studio Apprentice, Sequoia, was attending as part of the incoming class of Gates Millennium Scholars. Way to go, Sequoia!
7. In May, the Port Gamble S'klallam Skatepark, which Louie painted with the help of the S'klallam community and support from the Evergreen State College Longhouse, appeared in the official 'World of Red Bull' commercial. The commercial premiered during the MTV Video Music Awards. Check out Ryan Sheckler at 0:07 catching big air over the artwork.
8. In October, Louie joined forces with fellow artist Jonathan Wakuda Fischer for a joint gallery exhibit, “Rebels of the Floating World” at the ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle.
9. Our wool blankets have opened new opportunities to collaborate with some of the best Native artists around! We’re excited to be working with highly acclaimed fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail on a blanket - coming in May 2016!
10. Lastly, we’re finalizing the paperwork on a brand-new 1300 sq ft retail store in the heart of Seattle - right in the iconic Pike Place Market!