This week, Good Choice Initiative sat down with 9 ½ year old Mya of Kokom Scrunchies to hear her story. It’s one of opportunity in the face of adversity – embodying resiliency while celebrating Indigenous culture, and inspiring people to be the change they want to see in the world.
Mya, the founder and owner of Kokom Scunchies, is from Kitigan Zibi, an Algonquin First Nations reserve in Maniwaki, Québec. Last Sept, Mya went to the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Women craft fair where a vendor was selling floral scarves, with a colourful floral design. In the Indigenous community this type of scarf is often referred to as a Kokom scarf, named after the elderly women that wore them as traditional head coverings. Although the origin of the fabric isn’t well known – she notes the similarity to certain Eastern European fabrics – its cultural significance is strong.
It was also during the summer of 2019, that Mya had decided to host a special at the Summer Solstice Pow Wow in June 2020, offering prizes and gifts to other young girls her age. Typically specials at pow wows are usually only organized for teens or adults and Mya noticed and wanted to do something for girls her age. Seeing an opportunity to give back to her pow wow community, she decided to make scrunchies with this special scarf fabric to help raise funds for her event. She’d never sewn scrunchies before but she watched a few Youtube videos, and before she knew it, she was making 2-10 scrunchies per week. The reception from her supporters, the Scrunchie Gang, was beyond what this 9-year-old had imagined as Kokom Scrunchies has become a favorite hair accessory all over Canada and in the US.
Every week, Kokom Scrunchies has a Sunday Drop which offers a special limited edition of scrunchies – the result of Mya’s commitment to her business while also remaining committed to school and playing hockey. Though she has a busy schedule, her scrunchies are always handmade with love.
What started as an idea to give back to her community in her own way, Mya works to keep that principle at the core Kokom Scrunchies. Their scrunchies come in 10 different colours and are named after a role model or person that has inspired her. Mya wants anyone and everyone to enjoy wearing them, no matter their age, gender or ethnicity. While non-Indigenous people may be concerned about cultural appropriation by wearing kokom scarves, it isn’t considered disrespectful since they are not used for ceremony.
“Kokom Scrunchies is for everyone young and old”9-year-old Mya Beaudry
Although the Summer Solstice Pow Wow was postponed due to COVID-19, until 2021, Mya continues to plan for her special that she will host when we are allowed to come back together safely. She met her financial goal for her Pow Wow special in February of 2020, and turned Kokom Scrunchies into an official business. She may be (almost) 10 years old, but she wants people to take her seriously. In fact, she has a website and Instagram account where you find and stay updated on Sunday Drops and find all your Kokom Scrunchies. Recently, Mya placed 3rd place – selected from the top 100 semi-finalists – in the Pow Wow Pitch 2020 sponsored by BDC, winning a prize of $2,500, which she’ll be using towards her colourful new line Kokom Scrunchies stickers. Kokom Scrunchies was also featured in ELLE Canada in the month of October.
Mya’s inspired by the great things that other Indigenous people she knows have accomplished. She has her own strong support network of friends and family that have helped her achieve her business’ growth so far, and she’s excited for the future of her business.
Mya wants to be a role model for others and to inspire them to follow their dreams.
“We’re here, we’re strong and we’re going!”Mya Beaudry, owner and founder of Kokom Scrunchies
We could use a few more Myas in the world, wouldn’t you agree?
If you’re looking for meaningful gift ideas for the holidays, you can shop from their website: https://kokomscrunchies.ca/
Connect with them on Instagram @kokom_scrunchies