Wool blankets campaign begins today
Published September 17, 2015
SEATTLE — Eighth Generation, a small business founded by Nooksack artist and entrepreneur, Louie Gong, is the first American Indian-owned company to offer beautifully designed, high quality wool blankets. Wool blankets have an important presence in American Indian cultural practices including gifts for traditional celebrations and major milestones such as weddings and graduations. Eighth Generation wool blankets, which feature designs from American Indian (AI) artists, represent an AI cultural aesthetic yet carry a broad appeal.
Louie Gong in studio
“We are proud to have created a beautiful product that sends a true and positive message about Native American people and simultaneously supports our artists and communities,” says Gong.
On October 17th, Eighth Generation will unveil a blanket created for the Evergreen State College Longhouse’s 20th anniversary celebration. The blankets are made of 100 percent New Zealand wool and feature a thunderbird design along with a traditional Coast Salish basket pattern. Additional designs from the Eighth Generation wool blanket line will launch online on the same date and will be priced in the $160-$180 range.
To date, major companies that misappropriate cultural art and fail to forge equitable relationships with AI artists have dominated the wool blanket market. By establishing an American Indian-owned alternative, Eighth Generation aims to ensure sustained AI ownership over AI culture.
The blanket initiative, which is over five years in the making, is an extension of Eighth Generation’s Inspired Natives Project. Eighth Generation partners with AI artists to build their business capacity and helps to distribute their artwork globally. It’s a build on Gong’s mantra “Support Inspired Natives, Not Native Inspired.”
“When we work with an artist, we don’t just license their art. We help them build their business capacity. From building an e-commerce website to digital art skills to the way they tell their story, we mentor them through the process. We want to circulate the opportunities and income derived from interest in Native art and tradition back into the communities that are generating it. The days of watching others profit while we receive nothing are behind us now,” says Gong.
Eighth Generation will donate five percent of the net profits from the sales of the blankets to the Inspired Natives Scholarship, supporting the next generation of AI artists.
On September 17th, Gong will launch an Indiegogo Campaign to raise $60,000 to support the wool blanket project. The budget covers manufacturing and administrative costs associated with the first production blankets. Eighth Generation has primarily been a solo effort by Gong but the funds raised will allow for the hiring of the first Eighth Generation staffer. Watch a video about the campaign here.
CLICK here to reach Indiegogo Campaign.