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FAQ - DONATIONS AND DISCOUNTS
Do you make donations?
Yes. Eighth Generation is proud to be a Native-owned company that sells products that are 100% Native designed. While we understand that we are setting the gold standard for how companies align with Native art and communities, we also understand that engaging in commerce that is so closely connected to Native peoples comes with an ethical obligation to nurture the environments that this cultural art is coming from. Therefore, we take seriously the responsibility of giving back to community. Due to the high volume of requests we receive, however, we have to predesignate how many organizations we donate to each year--usually making selections at the beginning of the year.
What kind of organizations have you supported in the past?
In the last few years, Eighth Generation/Louie Gong has made cash, product, and service donations to a wide variety of organizations. Some examples include the National Indian Education Association, Evergreen State College Longhouse (becoming the largest individual donor in 2016), Seattle's Navigation Center, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women of Washington, the Wing Luke Museum, and numerous special events such as memorials, weddings and other fundraisers.
In 2016, Eighth Generation donated $10,000 worth of blankets to the water protectors at Standing Rock and then partnered with the Google American Indian Network and First Peoples Fund to contribute an additional $24,000 in resources. In 2017, Eighth Generation brought together numerous businesses and non-profits to support the new Navigation Center. In 2018, Eighth Generation has donated $15,000 worth of wool blankets to people transitioning out of homelessness.
How do I submit my organization for consideration?
You can email info(at)eighthgeneration(dot)com with more information on your organization and request. Requests submitted via Louie's personal Facebook page may be met with an disapproving emoticon.
Is there a deadline to submit a donation request?
No - submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.
FAQ - SPEAKING
A popular Keynote speaker, Louie is proud to have represented his family and community through presentations around the world, such as the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) the National and the Critical Mixed Race Studies conference. He has also appeared in media such as NBC Nightly News, NPR's All Things Considered, The New York Times, MSNBC.com, and BBC.
When speaking, Louie enjoys tailoring his content to the interests and needs of his audience. He often shows images of his art work to engage his audience, then weaves together humorous personal stories, empirical information and his own analysis to inspire them. Common speaking topics include identity, entrepreneurship, cultural appropriation, contemporary Native social issues and - of course - art.
HOW TO INQUIRE ABOUT BOOKING
In order to focus on escalating business activities, Louie has placed a moratorium on all workshops and most speaking engagements. Inquiries about major keynotes opportunities are still welcome, and can be sent via email to email@example.com. Please be sure to note your name/title, organizational affiliation, type of speaking engagement(s) and some general information about your target audience.
FAQ - CUSTOM SHOES
Louie, do you still work on shoes?
Unfortunately, my work on shoes has been permanently placed on the back-burner while I cultivate art related business opportunities for both myself and other cultural artists through Eighth Generation. I'm leaving the following information published - even though it is outdated - because it has been such an important part of the Eighth Generation story.
Where can I buy these shoes?
The only authorized place to purchase my hand painted/drawn shoes is here at Eighthgeneration.com.
When will you open the next round of orders for custom shoes?
I have less and less time to create custom shoes as other ventures at the intersection of art and business take off. Although I'm honored that the demand for custom shoes is great, I ask for your patience and understanding as I develop projects that -- unlike drawing on shoes -- will lead to long term sustainability for my family. I'm also helping other grassroots artists make the same moves though the Inspired Natives Project.
What do your shoes cost?
My hand painted/drawn custom shoes usually sell for $175.00 - $300.00 depending on the cost of the base shoe and the popularity of the design. This represents a self-imposed cap on pricing.
What kinds of shoes can you customize?
Although canvas shoes like Vans and Converse make great base shoes for customizing, I can customize any kind of shoe -- from leather Nike Air Jordans to suede boots -- to heels and pumps.
What is an "Exclusive Custom"?
We work together to design a unique shoe that represents you, your heritage, a story from your life -- anything you can imagine. You may email me with your proposal, but please be advised that orders for Exclusive Customs are temporarily closed due to overwhelming demand. However, I’m inclined to make time for meaningful projects or projects that might increase exposure for Eighth Generation.
What materials do you like to use?
My custom shoes are meant to be worn, so I use materials that will be durable even with regular exposure to the elements. For canvas shoes, this means using fabric dye pens rather than acrylic or Sharpie. Although there are many brands of fabric dye pens that will work well, I prefer the regular and opaque fabric dye pens and markers from Marvy-Uchida.
In the award winning film UNRESERVED: The work of Louie Gong it is stated that I used Sharpie on my first pair of shoes. This is often taken out of context or generalized to mean that I always use Sharpie. In actuality, it only took me a few pairs to learn that fabric dye was the right medium for custom shoes.
When working on leather shoes, I like to use Angelus leather paint. You can find many informative online tutorials for working on leather shoes.
How will my custom shoes hold up?
I’ve spent a lot of time refining the methods and materials I use to put art on shoes. The artwork on your shoe should hold up nearly as well as a factory printed design.
Are there any designs you won’t do?
I won’t copy someone else’s design because it’s both bad form and no fun. Additionally, I enjoy designing with the contours, colors and lines of each shoe, so designs created as prints won’t look as good when they’re on the shoe. If you like a particular design, I’m happy to incorporate elements of the design but I won’t try to duplicate it. Copyrighted material and trademarks are also off-limits unless you are the owner or have written permission to use the material.
How will I know exactly what my shoe will look like?
You won’t. Each shoe is unique. The organic nature of designing a custom shoe is what makes the process fun and challenging. It’s also what gives each shoe its unique character.
Variations in design often depend on your shoe size and the way the design color stands out against the color of the base shoe. As I go, I also make adjustments to cover up imperfections in the base shoe and cover up my own occasional slip-up. This is typically how innovation happens.
There are also tangible factors that influence the look of your shoe. First, base-shoes of different colors tend to have slightly different textures. This variation in texture is an important factor in determining the quality of the lines I can achieve. It’s for this reason that I like to inspect each shoe before purchasing it. Second, although all design colors look very good, darker colors tend to look more consistent throughout the design.
Are you affiliated with Vans?
Vans has supported my work in many ways. In preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, they helped out my fledgling operation by providing me with display fixtures and promotional materials. Later that year, they licensed an image of my art for display in Vans retail stores across the USA. I’m especially appreciative of their support of my "Art and Identity: Custom Shoe Workshops" with low-income youth.
Are you affiliated with Converse?
Converse’s regional reps have been supportive of my work, and I look forward to getting more connected with Converse in the future.
What is your return policy?
All sales on custom shoes are final.
FAQ - LOUIE GONG
I’m a shop or gallery owner. Do you wholesale?
Yes. Please see the Wholesale information page on this website for detailed information.
Where are you from?
I was born in Ruskin, B.C., where I lived with my Chinese Grandpa and Native Grandma in a house with no running water. When I was 11, we moved to the Nooksack tribal community near Everson, Washington. I stayed there until I finished graduate school at the age of 22.
I'm Chinese, Native, French and Scottish. My family has Squamish and Nooksack heritage, and I'm an enrolled citizen of the Nooksack nation.
What is your educational background?
A first-generation college student, I have a Masters Degree in Education from Western Washington University’s School Counseling Program. Over my 20 years in education, I’ve worked as a Native American Education Specialist, School Counselor, Child and Family Therapist, and Higher Education Administrator.
Since the age of 18, I’ve been a non-profit volunteer -- primarily at the board level -- for numerous organizations. I’m the past President of the MAVIN Foundation, a non-profit that addresses the experiences of mixed race children and families, and my commentary related to racial and cultural identity has been included in MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, The New York Times and been the subject of two documentary films.
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes. In 2013, I quit my seven year position as an administrator at Muckleshoot Tribal College to pursue art and entrepreneurship full time.
How long have you been doing art?
I started practicing art seriously in 2007 when the Muckleshoot Tribe hosted the Intertribal Canoe Journey, and I had the opportunity to help the Muckleshoot Language Program paint drums for giveaway items. After that, I started seeing the world in ovals, crescents and form lines. I created my first custom shoe in March of 2009.
Did you study art?
I had one art class. It was in 8th grade, and I think I got a C.
Do you have a studio that I can visit?
Yes, I currently have a studio in Seattle’s SODO District, and I welcome studio visits by appointment. Small groups are welcome for formal Studio Visits.
FAQ - BLANKETS
How did you get started?
Louie Gong (Nooksack) began planning for wool blankets in 2010 after earning his first wool blanket by keynoting an education conference. From that point forward, he saved every penny from speaking and workshops to use as the seed money for the 2015 launch.
Do you have a catalog?
Yes - you can view our 2020 Look Book here.
What size are your blankets?
Our throw blankets are 50" x 60". Our "Signature Series" wool blankets are 80" x 60" (fits over a Queen size bed) and our "Journey Series" wool blankets are approximately 50" x 60".
What materials are your blankets made with?
Our throw blankets are made with 100% cotton. Our "Signature Series" wool blankets are made with 100% New Zealand wool, and our "Journey Series" wool blankets are 95% wool and 5% acrylic.
Where are your blankets produced?
Our throw blankets are produced in the USA. Our "Signature Series" wool blankets are imported from China, and our "Journey Series" wool blankets are made in the USA.
Why don't you produce all your wool blankets in the USA using American wool - or Native produced wool?
Although producing our wool blankets in the USA using domestic wool, or even Native-produced wool, would be our ideal scenario, it's an unrealistic expectation at this time. We will work towards making this long term goal a reality. Until then, we are confident that we entered into this high-barrier-to-entry market in the best way possible.
We reject any stereotype-based assumption that a Native-owned company is somehow "less Native" because we have started working with overseas manufacturers. Eighth Generation must contend with the same reality and constraints as all other American small businesses. Yet, while only 3% of apparel sold in the U.S. is made here, over 50% of Eighth Generation's product categories are manufactured in the USA - much of it made in our own Seattle studio.
Update: In October 2017, Eighth Generation was able to launch "Guardians", the first wool blanket in our "Journey Blanket" Series. This growing series of wool blankets is Made in the USA.
Update: In November 2018, Eighth Generation will launch "Sprout" and "Companions" wool blankets in our "Journey Blanket" series. This growing series of wool blankets is Made in the USA.
Update: In October 2019, Eighth Generation began producing textiles in our Seattle warehouse!
Will you be making remnants available for crafters and artists? As we get up to speed with our core blanket offerings, we will make remnants and materials available for crafters and artists.