Scott McIntyre takes a break from his work day for a chat about the journey he’d taken to becoming a businessman. He’s co-owner of XUSI Clothing & Screen Printing, a company he created with his brother two years ago.
His days are busy filling orders and working on new design concepts for casual clothing such as hoodies and gym wear. Scott shows his latest creation of artwork, one that he’s particularly pleased with and has been selling well in his online store. It’s a graphic of Cree syllabics imposed over an illustration of an Indigenous warrior. The Cree word is Ākameyimo which translates to “Stay strong. Don’t give up. Stay the Course.” The word’s meaning of focus and resilience reflects the determination Scott had on his path to the present day, and in charting his course for the future.
Life started for Scott at the English River First Nation where he lived until he was 15, at which time his family moved to Saskatoon. He then attended high school in Saskatoon. Immediately following graduation however, he felt lost on what the next step would be. He wasn’t sure whether to go to post-secondary like others were encouraging him to do, or to act on a desire to take another path and start a business. His brother Connor visited him at about that time, and saw that Scott’s indecision was becoming a roadblock. He gave Scott a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki (Author) about financial independency and entrepreneurship, and encouraged him to read it. Scott took him up on it and devoured the book. It became a pivotal moment for him.
“It woke up a spirit in me.” he says. “After I finished reading it, I didn’t hesitate to explore the idea for a clothing business (which would eventually become XUSI). I could speak with confidence on what I wanted to do because of that book,” Scott explains on becoming an entrepreneur.
He knew then what he wanted: to use his love of design and love of clothing together somehow, to work free from the structure of the typical 9 to 5 workday, and to prove that an Indigenous person can thrive in the business world. He then took the first steps of building a business with Connor.
During the early days of the business he saw a social media post from SIIT that advertised a new and experimental program for start-up entrepreneurs called Miyoskamin: Innovation & Entrepreneurship Applied Certificate program. It instantly caught his interest, and he checked out the website to learn more.
“This was for me”, he explains. “As soon as I read about it I knew I had to take it. I felt there wouldn’t be another program or opportunity like it.” Scott went on to enroll in the first cohort class for the program, and is forever glad he did. “It taught me so much and exposed me to so many business (aspects).” The program not only taught about the essentials of business, it also raised his confidence in presenting and speaking.
At about the same time he was taking the entrepreneur course, he learned of a new Micro Grant being offered to start-ups as part of the SIIT’s Pawâcikêwikamik Indigenous Innovation Collective program. By now he’d gained the assuredness and right mindset to apply. He was soon thrilled to learn his company had been awarded as one of the micro grant winners.
“I was surprised and excited to be selected!” The funds were used for screen printing supplies and clothing shipments.
The company has seen the ups and downs of starting out, including having to put additional personal finances into the investment, and not seeing a return for the first while. Staying motivated during the early days was challenging, and remaining positive took work. Having already obtained so much inspiration from books, Scott turned to books again and found ones that supported his path. He learned ways to look away from the negative and accept the fact that the challenges were part of his choice to go into business. The support of his parents also went a long way in keeping Scott going.
From weathering tougher times to now experiencing success, he is mindful to remain modest. To achieve in business doesn’t mean a person is also in a position to get be boastful.
“You’ve got to stay humble,” he says, “Business is more like a way of life rather than.”
Another book Scott read influenced his journey, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It was another boost to the conviction of the budding businessman.
“It changed the way I talked with people, and how to avoid (conflict in conversation)”.
Inspiration came from other sources as well, including Indigenous successes and role models Michael Linklater and Kendall Netmaker. Scott heard Michael speak in high school on taking a path to successful life. He saw Kendall at an business event later on, on overcoming barriers and being true to your vision. Scott gained a lot of respect for what these role models had achieved through diversities.
When asked what’s next for the entrepreneur, he talks of expansion plans for the business, seeing his clothing creations sold all over the city and beyond. Does he see himself as a role-model to youth, maybe being the speaker at the high schools himself down the line?
“Yes, my brother and I have even talked about doing that someday,” he says and smiles. And what would your message be to those students? “Stay inspired, and don’t stop chasing your dream”.
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