Parenting as a Business Owner – Jill Setah

The third interview in our Parenting as a Business Owner series is with Jill Setah, owner and creative genius behind First Nations Fashion by Jill Setah. I convinced her to put her needle and thread down for a few minutes so we could chat about life as a mother and designer.

Q: How long have you been a designer?

I started designing traditional cultural wear for my children about 12 years ago. After a few years, community members started asking me to design for them. This is when my husband taught me how to use our sewing machine, as up until then I had been sewing everything by hand.

While working at the Friendship Centre in October 2010, I decided to take a fashion design program and the rest is history!

Q: What challenges did you face when you first started designing?

The two biggest challenges were learning to use our sewing machine and having the time to actually make the patterns, cut the fabric, and sew!

Q: Tell me about Paris!

When I first started designing, I was determined to make it to Paris. So, I decided to Google “Paris fashion shows” which is where I found the runway director’s email address and sent him a message!

The garments I’ll be showing on September 30 in Paris will be First Nations inspired, with different patterns and colours. This particular show that I’m involved in will be for industry professionals only, so this is an incredible opportunity for me!

Q: How many children do you have? 

I have 4 children of my own. 8 months ago I took my sister’s 3 children in as well. IN total, all the children range in age from 3 – 19. Having a house full certainly makes it challenging to design and sew, but when you have a dream, you find a way!


Q: What was your reason for getting into design – your “why”?

My reason for designing, to start with, was to provide culturally inspired garments for pow wows for my family, which then became designing for the community.  

Q: What advice would you give to somebody who wants to be a designer?

It’s a long road – definitely not easy.  You have to work your butt off and you don’t always get paid for your time. Prepare not to be instantly rich. But if you’re determined, you’ll find a way! 


For more information about Jill Setah and First Nations Fashion, please visit her blog and like her on Facebook!