Entrepreneur captures top prize

Meadow Lake’s Jana Ross has an extra $4,000 in her pocket after her company, Bannock Repubic Clothing, won CBC’s Boom Box competition Sept. 12.

Meadow Lake’s Jana Ross has an extra $4,000 in her pocket after her company, Bannock Republic Clothing, won CBC’s Boom Box competition Sept. 12.

by Derek Cornet

Meadow Lake resident Jana Ross has emerged victorious in the CBC’s recent Boom Box competition.
On Sept. 12, Ross and six other aboriginal finalists gathered in Saskatoon to present their business idea to a panel of judges. With $4,000 and business advice from an expert on the line, Ross said everyone who made it to finals came to win.

“I was confident I’d make it to the finals, but once I watched the other finalists present their businesses, I was nervous,” she admitted.

In order to earn her spot in the finals, Ross had to submit a video as to why her business should win. The video was then judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and investors. She also had the chance to make the finals by winning an online public vote, where the public chose which idea they liked best.
Ross was the runner-up in the public vote to Waterhen Lake resident Devon Fiddler, who became the first Boom Box finalist. Ultimately, however, Fiddler’s business, Kasiklhowin Designs, was not among the top three.

Ross said her business, Bannock Republic Clothing, has grown this past year and the desire to meet other business-minded people lured her to the Boom Box competition. Aside from the prize money, she said the knowledge she could gain from meeting other business owners was priceless.

“It was a great opportunity to meet other aboriginal entrepreneurs and learn how they operate their businesses,” she said.

As for the reason Ross was chosen to be this year’s winner, she is still unsure. She was never given any specific answer, but assumes it’s because the judges knew she was serious. Ross has been working on her clothing line for several years and said her sales proved she can be successful. Ross added the judges could have also been impressed because of the lack of Native clothing lines currently in the marketplace. She said it’s an emerging market with plenty of room for growth.

As for the future, Ross said she never wants her company to become so big that she can no longer manage it. It was never her dream to become a business owner. She said she’s currently living her dream as the Cree culture teacher teacher at Jubilee, Lakeview and Gateway elementary schools.

“My teaching career is important to me,” Ross said. “I’m thankful for it because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have the support for my business that I have.”

Her goal one day is to expand her clothing line via the Internet. Currently, she has a Facebook page and items listed on shopindigenous.ca, a website exclusively for aboriginal artists.

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