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Kivalliq clothing talent on the rise

Arviat-based Hinaani Design was recognized for its craft work by capturing the 2018 Northern Lights Best Product Award during the mammoth trade show's closing banquet in Ottawa on Feb. 3.

The company is the brainchild of owners Keenan (Nooks) Lindell of Arviat and Emma Kreuger and Paula Rumbolt of Baker Lake, who recently welcomed Lori Tagoona of Rankin Inlet as its latest team member.

Keenan (Nooks) Lindell models the Inukhiutit Tingmiaq cap his Arviat-based company, Hinaani Design, includes among its products. Hinaani earned the 2018 Northern Lights Best Product Award in Ottawa on Feb. 3. photo courtesy Hinaani

Lindell said they started the company in 2016.

He said they began with women's leggings and T-shirts, and are now slowly expanding with caps, sweaters, scarves, toques and other specialty items.

"Emma and I do the actual design work, but everybody has their input into the finished product," said Lindell.

"A lot of the ideas we come up with are from our Inuit culture and the land around us.

"Both Emma and I have some design experience, and we noticed a lot of women were very proud of their traditional Inuit tattoos and ulus as part of their culture, and they would buy clothes that are similar in shape to their ulus or tattoo designs.

"We decided there was a market for our product, so we started with the leggings, which proved to be pretty popular, and then carried on with the T-shirts."

Lindell said he's actually wanted to design caps since he was in high school.

He said everyone in Nunavut knows that about 95 per cent of all the guys in the territory wear caps, so there's definitely a demand in Nunavut for quality product.

"We also do graphic-design work and we've already done a few logos, and we offer what we consider to be pretty good rates.

"Getting a professional logo done can be pretty expensive, so we keep our prices pretty low and offer a good discount to Inuit non-profit groups and small businesses in Nunavut.

"We're currently having most of our products manufactured in Montreal, although we do have a few of them done in the United States.

"We're working really hard to get our own facility so we can print our own T-shirts and stuff like that, but we just started in 2016 and are still in the process of growing our brand, so we're trying to do things with as little risk as possible while we get funding partners lined up, seek the right advice and do everything slowly and properly."

Lindell said it meant a lot to Hinaani to receive the 2018 Northern Lights Best Product Award.

He said they worked for almost two months straight getting everything ready to present at the massive trade show.

"This was our first time going there, and we're a fairly small name right now, so any recognition, publicity or accolades for our products is good for our company.

"We really worked super hard to try and have a good showing at Northern Lights because it's the biggest trade show we've ever been to.

"So, for all that hard work to be acknowledged was just amazing and we're very, very happy about it."