First Native American Fabric Store to Open in Brooklyn Park
Two Maple Grove residents are about to open the first Native fabrics store in the northwest suburbs.
On Tuesday morning, laughter echoed throughout the new Fire Mountain Fabrics store. Owners Arlene Fairbanks and Jessica Travis are busy preparing for opening day on Feb. 11.
“We kind of pick try to pick things that people from tribes would be interested in,” said Jessica.
The material is used to make native clothing and regalia that you often see during powwows. Regalia is a powerful symbol of a dancer’s heritage.
The two share a rich history. Jessica is Lakota from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, and Arlene is Navajo from the Coyote Pass Clan.
The best friends met nine years ago when they served on the Osseo School District American Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee.
“We started sewing together, and she started with her daughter’s fancy shawl outfit,” explained Arlene.
Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
This summer, Arlene’s world was turned upside down. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer, and Jessica held her hand during treatments.
“With her cancer journey, realizing that there’s no better day than today to, like, actually live the dream,” said Jessica. “We were sitting at her treatment, and we were talking about fabrics that we would love to have in the area, and just the frustration of not being able to find it locally.”
They started researching, eventually launching an online business and partnering with vendors who specialize in native fabrics.
Soon afterward, they set up a brick-and-mortar store, where the entrepreneurs also sew custom items and sell kits so people can make their regalia.
Jessica and Arlene say they are focused on giving back to the community and sharing their rich heritage. They plan to hold sewing classes for the youth and elders.
“Being able to offer fabrics that aren’t available anywhere, I mean, that’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do,” said Jessica.
Fire Mountain Fabrics is located at the Cherokee Center Strip Mall in Brooklyn Park. The store is scheduled to open on February 11th.