A Tlingit grandma in the Yukon has broken into the world-wide Amazon marketplace with her brand of bannock.
In 2016, Theresa Ward began selling bannock at events around the territory to help make ends meet. Now, five years later, she's taken an Indigenous food item to one of the largest online marketplaces in the world.
Ward said Grandma Treesaw's Yukon Bannock sprung from a simple idea.
"It might be really cool having it in our stores in the Yukon," she said. "An Indigenous food into the stores. We've got so many cultural foods in the stores but no First Nations foods."
The brand name, Grandma Treesaw's Yukon Bannock, comes from a nickname Ward had since childhood growing up in Carcross.
So she created a brown paper bag version of her bannock and peddled it to stores throughout the Yukon. Then she joined a startup boot camp offered by Yukonstruct, a shared makerspace in Whitehorse.
Three months later, with help from a local marketing and branding company, she caught the eye of Amazon. Her products will go on sale there in three weeks.
"Having a sales agent that works with me through Amazon is going to be helpful for me because it's so big that it's really hard to even know what to do on there," Ward said.
Bannock tells a story
Bannock has been an Indigenous staple ever since flour, salt, sugar and baking powder were introduced to the Yukon by incoming miners looking for gold. Telling that story, and Ward's story, fell to another startup company, Shakat Media. Filmmaker Nishka Pajor says both parties knew how important the story is behind the product.
"It's awesome to see people starting business in the Yukon and being successful," Pajor said. "Each story is different.... Every story is pretty much amazing. They start small, they start in their kitchens, they start in their home, and then they explode."
Ward said her success is a product of many Yukon companies working together and she's thankful for that. However, she also says success has to come from within.
"It's really all about you," she said. "If you want to do it, you can do it. And it's just a lot of hard work. Lot of weekends, lot of night times, a lot of learning, a lot of training, you know, so it's really being committed to it."