When we traveled to Big Sky to shoot our holiday catalog, one of the highlights of our trip was being welcomed by our friend and frequent collaborator, Bethany Yellowtail, to her home state of Montana. Under open skies, we talked about our shared passions: family, fashion, and community. It was a poignant conversation that reminded us of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
Like many brands in the fashion industry, we have appropriated designs from Indigenous communities in the past. But now that we know better, we can do better. Our collaboration with Bethany and her fashion brand, B.Yellowtail, has been and continues to be instrumental in our learning.
We couldn’t have dreamed of a better partner than Bethany. She has been a self-proclaimed “risk taker” since she was a young girl growing up on the Crow Reservation. Her mother didn’t want her to go into fashion but she found herself inspired by the designs passed down from her great great-grandmother from the early 1900s. As she told Kerry, our Chief Impact Officer, “For each tribe and tribal nation, colors and patterns and the way they're organized indicate who we are. They tell the stories of our families.”
In addition to her own apparel brand, Bethany is passionate about amplifying and elevating other Native American artists, designers and their communities. To that end, Bethany created the B.Yellowtail Collective. It features handmade, heirloom-quality jewelry, textiles, and accessories created using time-honored techniques and traditional methods. The artists receive 70% of the profits, creating sustainable economic opportunities. Her long term vision is to be able to “create lots and lots of jobs for our people. I imagine the day where we can employ a lot of our community members, because that's really where my heart is.”
We are proud to carry some of these beautiful designs at our stores and on our website as part of our commitment to restoring power to Indigenous communities. In addition to the economic impact, Bethany reminded us that it’s also about representation and joy. “We want to see our people celebrated. We want people to see our faces and our names, to be able to see us as human beings.”
For more of Chief Impact Officer, Kerry Docherty’s compelling interview with Bethany Yellowtail in Big Sky –– check out the full video below.