4 min. reading

Nunavut Small Business Keeps Communities Warm Through Cultural Products

Natalie Griller (left) and Geoff Clark (right) have been running Nunavut Qiviut for nearly 10 years.

When the harsh Arctic winds gust through the North, qiviut, an Inuit word describing the finest and warmest layer of fur or down on Arctic animals, is essential for protecting against the cold. Geoff Clark and Natalie Griller have been running their business Nunavut Qiviut in Kugluktuk, Nunavut since 2015, selling yarn and products primarily made from qiviut.  

In the last seven years, they have benefited from four different Catalyste+ mentorships which have helped them develop and mature their business. Each of the mentorships was unique and provided an opportunity to focus and grow specific aspects of their company, such as online marketing and sales growth.

“No matter what you do, you have blind spots, and it’s always good to get insight from people with certain areas of expertise.”

Geoff Clark, co-owner of Nunavut Qiviut

When asked why they were interested in the Catalyste+ mentorship program, Geoff said that although he has a business degree and experience, “No matter what you do, you have blind spots and it is always good to get insight from people with certain areas of expertise.” Having different experts come in and focus on targeted support was invaluable to the ongoing development and success of Nunavut Qiviut.

To first build their online and social media presence, marketing specialist Grant Lee provided in-person support and encouraged them through various digital marketing strategies. Their second mentor, Patricia Black, was a fashion designer who helped them expand into value-added goods, bringing momentum to their business. For support in inventory management and success, they worked with their third mentor, William Oates, an expert in finance, to help them focus on developing stable financial control of their company. 

Their fourth, and most recent mentor, was Tim Robertson, who helped them further focus their efforts on online marketing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This support and confidence-building were particularly needed during a time when many businesses were shutting down or dramatically changing. Tim mentored Geoff and Natalie in the summer of 2021, about a year after their business was forced to pivot online. He led marketing sessions where he provided suggestions and action items, ensuring the business was moving forward and reaching its goals before the next meetings.

Natalie said that each of the mentors was empowering and helped guide her team into making the best possible choices for their business. “Catalyste+ mentors gave us information and feedback, confirming that what we were doing was going to work.”

Living and working in a remote community can pose challenges, so having an ongoing support system is incredibly significant for Geoff and Natalie as they continue to run their business. After the Catalyste+ mentorship, the business was incorporated as Wild Qiviut Canada Limited, with Nunavut Qiviut as its brand name.

Qiviut is an Inuit word describing the finest and warmest layer of fur or down on Arctic animals.

When asked what the best outcomes were from the mentorship, Geoff and Natalie said they gained incredible confidence by having mentors provide them with the right information at critical intervals in their business’s development. 

“Catalyste+ is a place where you can find high-quality and effective mentorship. This is very special and rare,” they said. “Here is an organization that provides top-quality mentorship that is personal. An organization where the mentors develop a relationship with you and are eager to see you do well.”

Are you a Northern-based business looking for mentorship or advisory services to strengthen your organization and the communities you serve? Learn more about Catalyste+ and how we can support you in driving growth and sustainable development.