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Behind the Designer of Indigenous Fashion Brand OrendaTribe
Designer Amy is the daughter of a full-blooded Navajo, and hopes to bring change this world with her eye for textiles and her love for her culture. Her brand, OrendaTribe, has caught the eyes of Vogue editors, stylists, and the like, and now we're bringing her onto our ARMY blog so you can love her just as much as we do.
Her IG OrendaTribe is probably one of my most-favorite to be inspired by on a daily basis. With backdrops of the wondrous mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico, you'll be wishing you were somewhere else than maybe on your couch because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Amy is an influencer in her own right with her passion for activism, including the up and coming virtual live concert she will be hosting with the 90's singer/songwriter Jewel, most famous for her song, "Who Will Save Your Soul?"
Voices of Hwǫłdzil (Resilience) will work to raise money for the domestic violence and sexual assault shelters on the Navajo Nation. Unfortunately, the pandemic has greatly affected Dinétah (Diné Homelands), and continues to threaten their communities every day -- being the fourth highest nation to be impacted by the crisis. Learn more on how to donate and watch it live here.
We got the chance to (virtually) sit down with the indigenous designer in honor of Indigenous People's Day.
DYLANLEX: What inspired you to start Orenda Tribe? How did you get started?
AMY: Orenda Tribe is my soul journey. I believe that there is power in our choices, and that all of us have the power to make change for good. After a career of designing fast fashion clothing destined for landfills, I arrived at a place of creating with consciousness. I have long believed in sustainable design processes—handmade, restored and repurposed vintage, one-of-a-kind upcycling of textiles. Orenda Tribe is built on these tenets and fueled by my desire to honor my Indigeneity, to protect our sacred lands, and to help others.
When I had my daughter, I started to think about what I wanted to teach her and one thing I wanted to share with her was sustainability. I have always valued my connection to the earth and it hurt my heart to realize that I was working in an industry that was contributing to fast fashion and clothing waste. I wanted my daughter to have the same values I do and that includes being able to walk away from opportunities that my heart didn't stand by.
The Orenda Tribe team travels the world collecting beautiful treasures, we work in our studio year round to create one of a kind products. We source our materials from the strangest places, we like products that have stories to tell.
DL: What do you see in the future for Orenda Tribe?
A: Recently, we have focused our efforts around aiding our Diné relatives. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected Dinétah and continues to threaten the Diné people. In response to the pandemic, Orenda Tribe founded the Dził Asdzáán (Mountain Woman) Command Center, a collective of Diné matriarchs that has provided meals, reusable masks, PPE and hand sanitizer for our relatives.
Orenda Tribe actively hires and supports young Indigenous creatives. Our upcoming Voices of Hwǫłdzil concert is filmed by Shaun Price, a young Diné creative and features many young Indigenous artists like Haatałii, Dirt Rhodes, Nizhonniya, Mato Wayuhi and Raye Zaragoza. Our shop hosts products by our young relatives and we also collaborate with Indigenous artists like Diné poet, Kinsale Hues.
I have been dreaming of creating an ecommerce mentorship program for young Indigenous creatives. I want to teach Native youth how to harness their creativeness, to make a career with their art. I originally envisioned this as a class taught at schools on the Diné reservation but I think it would be best to make it available onlline for everyone. I want to give our youth the power to be their own brand, business or entrepreneur.
I have been working on a project to build a skate park with a surrounding ancestral garden in Tohaali (Two Grey Hills, NM). Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we have had to postpone this project. I want to create more recreational spaces for Diné youth, places where they can be a kid and enjoy themselves while being surrounded with our ancestral plants. I want to expand this project to other communities on the reservation, for all of our youth to enjoy.
DL: What is your own personal styling go-tos? What are your favorites to wear? And what are your favorites in your collection?
A: Jumpsuits and sweatsuits! Anything comfortable and colorful! I love wearing pieces from other Indigenous artists and all things vintage.
DL: What advice would you give to other women on starting their own businesses?
A: Just do it, be a good relative and follow your heart. I wouldn't be where I am today without making life changing choices. If you have the resources to help your community, use them! The work we have been doing at Orenda Tribe started with me thinking of ideas to bring resources to Diné youth, I used my connections to bring these projects to life with other amazing people. Invest in your heart work, care for others and give to your community
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