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What does it mean that Eighth Generation is owned by the Snoqualmie Tribe?
Eighth Generation Founder and CEO Louie Gong (Nooksack) sold the business to the Snoqualmie Tribe in 2019. Now that hundreds of Indigenous people steer our company, our stewardship of Native artists and their communities will continue for decades into the future! Read more about the Snoqualmie Tribe on their website and our blog.
What is the meaning behind the Eighth Generation name and logo?
“Eighth Generation” is a play on the intertribal value of Seven Generations. By calling our business Eighth Generation, we are embedding respect for those who came before us and doing our best for the generations who come after us. Also, the pronunciation of “eight” in Cantonese – Louie’s Grandpa’s language – sounds like the word for prosperity. Therefore, having “eight” is considered a very lucky number to have in a business name!
Can I shop Eighth Generation products if I’m not Native?
Yes, absolutely! Eighth Generation products are for everyone. Plus, 100% of our products are designed by Native artists, so you never need to worry about cultural appropriation. When you shop at Eighth Generation, you know you’re making the moral choice and supporting Inspired Natives rather than “Native-inspired” art or products with false narratives.
I’m a shop or gallery owner. Does Eighth Generation wholesale?
Due to the pandemic, we have put a temporary pause on offering wholesale. Otherwise, please visit our Wholesale page for more information.
Do you have a catalog?
We do! You can view our most recent Look Book for stunning photos and to learn the meanings behind our 100% Native-designed products.
How did you start making blankets?
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. In 2020, Eighth Generation launched a collection of wool baby blankets made in our Seattle studios.
What size are your blankets?
Throw blankets: 50" x 60"
“Signature Series” wool blankets: 80" x 60" (fits over a Queen size bed)
"Journey Series" wool blankets: 50" x 60"
Wool baby blankets: 39" x 28"
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. Our collection of Native-made textiles – baby blankets and scarves – are made with 100% Merino wool.
Where are your blankets produced?
All of 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. Our collection of Native-made textiles, featuring wool baby blankets and scarves, are produced in our Seattle studios.
Why don't you produce all your wool blankets in the USA using American wool or Native-produced wool?
We are proud to work with both domestic and worldwide partners in producing our blankets! Eighth Generation is confident that we entered into this high-barrier-to-entry market in the best way possible and reject any stereotype-based assumption that a Native-owned company is somehow "less Native" because we work with overseas manufacturers. We 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.
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.
In November 2018, Eighth Generation launched "Sprout" and "Companions" wool blankets in our "Journey Blanket" series. This growing series of wool blankets is Made in the USA.
In October 2019, Eighth Generation began producing a Native-made textile line in our Seattle warehouse!
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 and Louie Gong have 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 donated $15,000 worth of wool blankets to people transitioning out of homelessness.
In 2019, as part of our annual First Frost Gifting, Eighth Generation donated wool blankets to Chief Seattle Club’s Eagle Village. This facility provides modular homes as a route out of homelessness and into permanent homes.
In 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, Eighth Generation donated 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to the Seattle Indian Health Board. Also, with support from the Snoqualmie Tribe, Eighth Generation provided nearly $10,000 worth of wool blankets to elders, families and children who lost their homes to wildfires in Washington and Oregon. Additionally, the women of Eighth Generation called attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women with the production of our “Sacred Sisters” Scarf. All $8,929 of the scarf’s profits were donated to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, (NIWRC), who help end gender-based violence in tribal communities.
How do I submit my organization for consideration?
You can email email@example.com with more information on your organization and request. Requests submitted via Louie's personal Facebook page may be met with a disapproving emoticon.
Is there a deadline to submit a donation request?
No. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.
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 Master’s 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.
Does Louie do speaking events?
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) 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.
What kind of topics does Louie talk about?
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.
Can I book a speaking engagement by Louie?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to note your name/title, organizational affiliation, type of speaking engagement(s) and some general information about your target audience.
Louie, do you still customize 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 Eighth Generation’s website.
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 for shoes?
All sales on custom shoes are final.