Destiny Seymour began Indigo Arrows after struggling to find Indigenous-designed materials that she could incorporate into projects, but her design journey wasn’t a straight path.
“My dad works with Indigenous communities across Canada, and I saw the heartbreaking trauma from a young age,” explains Destiny. “He’d always say that we need our own healers, which is why I thought I’d always work as a psychologist..” But even as a child, Destiny’s passion for creating, making and designing shone through experimenting with DIY home projects and altering clothing.
After finishing her first degree, she spent a year teaching English in Japan, drawn to a small mountain town where she learned their traditions of Indigo dye-making from the local community. “We did a lot of paper making and crafts that honoured their local history and family, and I fell in love with the practices,” reminisced Destiny. “I phoned my Dad from Japan and explained how my heart was in learning about spaces and the history behind the places we gather, and there is healing in architecture and design as well.”
Throughout her master’s degree in Interior Design from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Destiny noticed the lack of Indigenous representation in architecture and interior design. “If there was a design, it was often created by a non-Indigenous designer who often would the wrong symbol for a nation or use one in the wrong context,” said Destiny. “During my studies, I was considered an expert, but I was still learning my culture during that time.”
Early in her career, she spent a decade working for an architecture firm in Winnipeg, where she had the opportunity to consult on a few projects for First Nations communities helping to build the elder’s visions through her designs. “During that job, I could never find fabrics or furniture designed by Indigenous people from the Prairies. When you travel to other areas, like British Columbia or New Mexico, you are surrounded by the beautiful art from that area. But when you arrive in Manitoba, visitors often don’t know that you are in Anishinaabe, Cree, Dene or Dakota territory.”
“When I began decorating my home, I thought a lot about the Indigenous art I wanted. I started to look at our pottery and bone tools living in museums that we don’t learn about. My ancestors had home decor thousands of years ago, and I connected with the beautiful and symbolic patterns.” In a way, launching her own company, Indigo Arrows, was a way to solve her own problem of finding local Indigenous designs and home decor that she had been searching for.
“In 2014, I began learning about printmaking and later that year began sourcing fabric, zippers, inserts and the other items I needed to begin making pillows and tea towels for Indigo Arrows.” First working with neutral fabrics in black, grey and natural linen, she embossed the material with copper metallic ink patterns inspired by Anishinaabe ancestors using traditional methods hand printed with an elk antler bone tool.
Destiny began selling them at pop-ups and markets around Winnipeg, styling her images for social media and slowly gaining a following around the city. As her business grew, she began printing the fabric in bulk to be able to respond to the growing demands and expanding her collection to feature pillows, linens, blankets and drum stools. “I still work from my home, but have a factory that prints my fabric and have hired help to sew my designs,” explains Destiny. “I have my eye on a studio to help expand later this year.”
“I look at the land here in the Prairies for inspiration pulling the yellow from the sunsets and plants, and I recently introduced boreal, which is a deep green that you see in the spruce trees and moss I recognize from my childhood. The red in my collection is inspired by the earth and the clay used in our pottery,” explains Destiny.
“In my element collection, I looked at fire, water, earth and air to create the minimal designs inspired by things I found in Manitoba.” For example, the fire pattern is named Ishkoday, which means flint rock in Anishinaabemowin and features a triangular rock shape. “I love the thought that this tool used long ago can be represented in my designs and interpreted in a new way in home decor.”
As Destiny continues to design the patterns in her elements collection, she is expanding her collection to include a baby home decor line later this year.
Feature image courtesy of Woven Masters. Additional photography courtesy of Ella Greyeyes and Rosie Berger.