22Fresh's newest clothing model furthers Indigenous presence in Sask. advertising
Six-year-old Nijah Eashappie is pretty subdued about his newfound fame. The Regina boy is the latest to model in advertisements for local clothing brand; 22Fresh.
“I feel like he doesn’t even know what’s going on,” said Talisa Eashappie, Nijah’s mother. “He’s just going about his day. He just doesn’t even realize the impact of this. But I know once he gets older, he will.”
Nijah’s photoshoot, in which he sports traditional braids, has made an impression online. Talisa is thankful for all the kind messages sent in support of Nijah’s modelling.
“The reaction was amazing,” she said. “I don’t know if 22Fresh knew how important this was or how big of a deal that it was for him and everyone else to see a First Nations boy on an ad for a clothing line. It just exploded with so many positive comments and everyone shared it and had so many nice things to say. It just made my heart so happy.”
Darian Kovacs is an Indigenous business leader and founder of Jelly Digital Marketing and PR. He’s also an advocate for greater diversity in Canadian advertising through his involvement with the non-profit POCAM or the People of Color in Advertising and Marketing. He agrees that Nijah’s modelling is a sign of steady improvement for Indigenous representation in advertising.
“There are some incredible agencies representing Indigenous talent,” he said. “Whether it be on the influencer and creator side or whether it's just amazing models. And people are waking up and realizing it.”
Kovacs said that while industry-wide change is slow, 22Fresh’s move is a step in the right direction. He hopes other organizations will follow their example
Eashappie believes that this happened at the right time with National Truth and Reconciliation Day around the corner. She hopes that Nygah will inspire more Indigenous young boys to be comfortable with their appearances, especially those with long hair.
“This is a good time for us to embrace our culture,” she said. “To be proud of who we are and where we come from. You know, with residential schools, the first thing they did was cut their hair. So, it’s really important for him and other little ones too, to know that they’re so strong for having their hair long and being proud of it.”
22Fresh provided a statement regarding the decision to have Nygah model for the brand. They outline that the brand values inclusivity above all else and will continue to showcase the diverse representations of their customers in the future.