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October 30, 2020

Women in Leadership Spotlight Series Part 5: Sandi Roy

Sandi Roy

Statistics show that women account for 40% of the workforce and continue to contribute to world economic development. However, studies reveal that 55% of women do not believe they possess adequate entrepreneurial skills and tend to second guess themselves compared to their male counterparts.

Manning Elliott focuses to improve this statistic and elevate women’s leadership in business. As such, an initiative of the firm’s Women, Wealth, and the Future Committee aims to highlight and demonstrate how women are growing, thriving and succeeding in the economic world through our Women in Leadership spotlight series.

Our spotlight series highlights five inspiring and successful women in leadership. Our final spotlight is Sandi Roy founder of Monague Native Crafts. Read about her story below.

Sandi Roy and the Spirit of Survival

When Sandi Roy began Monague Native Crafts more than 35 years ago, she was living in her van with her family. The family is from the Beausoleil First Nation in Southern Ontario. 

“I became successful because I wasn’t focused on making money or making a career. I was focused on surviving and looking after my children,” said Roy who raised her daughters as a single parent. 

Today Monague Native Crafts, which manufactures Indigenous crafts, gifts and jewelry has products in between 600 and 1,000 stores at any given time. 

However, 35 years ago, Roy and her children lived nomadically, following festivals and pow wows for venues to sell handicrafts. Eventually, the family moved to British Columbia because there wasn’t as much snow as Ontario making it easier to live in the van. After a while, they moved into low-rental housing and got a landline phone. She was finally able to keep in contact with stores and started selling her products to them regularly.

“When I would get orders from stores, I’d get so overwhelmed sitting up all night trying to fill them. I found a program through welfare where if I trained people I could get assistance. Soon, I got people to start making stuff with me,” said Roy. 

“I had that drive to just keep going and try and sustain a family. That attracted a lot of people to me that had similar values.”

Soon, Roy and other women with kids were working together. She says that all of them were uneducated in business and had to figure things out as they went along. She has worked with most of the same people for 27 years now.

Overcoming Challenges

Roy has had many challenges as a businesswoman, including being turned down for loans time and time again. Bank loans required a business acumen that Sandi did not have, and therefore, was not able to defend her need for financial assistance.

Roy says her learning curve in business was extremely steep. But people helped her along the way, encouraging her to take business courses. She refers to a fairy godmother, the late Barb Wightman, who was instrumental in directing her to become a homeowner by assuming a mortgage. That opened many doors for her.  

Today Monague Native Crafts is based in the Fraser Valley. Roy says that whatever happens, every challenge is an opportunity to grow. 

“Personal responsibility is key. But believe in serendipity and that people come into your path for a reason. Be open to that.”

To read our other Women in Leadership spotlights, visit our blog