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Inuit designs in new clothing
New business start-up merges Eastern and Western Arctic

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Monday, July 11, 2016

Michael Milton turns 21 today and while he may accept birthday greetings, he is more keen on celebrating success in business. He's knee deep in launching his first enterprise, High Arctic Apparel, which produces clothing with a Nunavut influence.

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Graphic designer Jamesie Itulu, left, and business owner Michael Milton show off some of the clothing High Arctic Apparel is making after the business launched in Pond Inlet. - photo courtesy of High Arctic Apparel

"We create designs based on Inuit traditional culture and values," he said by phone from his home of Pond Inlet.

"What I want to do is expose them and show Nunavut and the rest of Canada what Inuit can do on designs and shirts."

His friend Jamesie Itulu has been the artist behind the designs, and the company's logo shows a kakivak on the left and harpoon head on the right, symbolizing the connection of the Western and Eastern Arctic.

Milton just recently got his first shipment of T-shirts in and has begun selling them in Pond Inlet. He also aims to get these Inuit designs on mugs, hoodies, ball caps and anything else.

His business is the first to be highlighted as part of the Inspire Nunavut program, run by an Ottawa-based group that aims to assist young entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams and launching their businesses.

"I've been working very closely with Michael, ever since he came up with the idea, in helping him find suppliers, funding, creating a business plan, that sort of thing," said Sam Thumm, a mentor with Inspire Nunavut. "He's been doing a great job at doing all those steps."

Milton said he had only thought about starting a business before. But now he's putting ideas into action and learning on the job.

"This is my first time actually pursuing an idea of making a business," he said. "I've been enjoying it very well. It's been a process of learning a lot about how it all works. I've been getting a lot of help from Sam. Without (him), I wouldn't be as far as I've gone right now."

He's created a Facebook page for High Arctic Apparel and is currently developing a way to sell his products online.

Inspire Nunavut is currently working to develop five other businesses in Pond Inlet as well.

"We're definitely really excited to get a new business started here in Pond," said Thumm. "It's something that represents Northern culture."

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