March 28, 2023

Blake Messer

Bellingham the New HQ for Copper Canoe!

Acclaimed Indigenous Jewelry Designer Vina Brown explained that she hopes to “find wealth by giving” at the new Headquarters for Copper Canoe Woman Jewelry located at 801 West Orchard Drive, Suite 6, in downtown Bellingham.

Copper Canoe Woman designs can be found in 35 shops around the world, but with the enhanced team, improved facility and the support of many communities, Brown says they are poised to grow into 200 retail locations before 2024.

“We are presently interviewing prospective distribution partners in New Zealand and France, two markets (among others) we are excited to roll out in soon,” Brown said.

At present, Copper Canoe Woman employs eight people locally with an expanded array of up to 20 additional local contractors. These include a talented assembly of local artists and craftspeople who will together design, assemble, market and distribute Copper Canoe Woman’s new spring line of jewelry inspired by Brown’s godfather, Ken Wright.

“I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors and I am consistently inspired by the struggles and solutions of my people, the Haíłzaqv and Nuu-Chah-Nulth,” said Brown. “I’m honored to share my humble interpretation of that inspiration with both those in my own community and other cultures of the world.”

Brown, a Master Jewelry Maker who has been designing and making jewelry since the age of 8, was pleased to welcome her husband Mike Schjang to the Copper Canoe design team.

“Mike is a talented Hopi painter who draws from a similar well of inspiration, but from an entirely different community,” said Brown. “One equally rich in stories of challenge and opportunity. He will be launching the new Copper Grizzly line at the same time we launch the Copper Canoe Woman spring line.”

The two talented artists first met at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, where they were both collegiate basketball players. Vina Brown hailing from the Great Bear Rainforest near Bella Bella, Canada, and Schjang from the Arizona Deserts of Second Mesa.

Brown said, “In college, Mike and I connected through similarities in some of the ancestral stories of our cultures. We hope to bring those two similar but unique perspectives (along with those of our team) to people who would enjoy it around the world.”

Brown went on to say, “I personally have received so much from my community that I am compelled to contribute what I can.”

Brown shared that the new Copper Canoe Woman Headquarters would also be the temporary home for Bellingham’s newest non-profit, Rooted Resiliency, an organization dedicated to holistic wellness of Indigenous communities in North America. Brown, who serves on the board of Rooted Resiliency, was pleased to report that a portion of all Copper Canoe design purchases from customers would go to support the work of Rooted Resiliency.

Rooted Resiliency Executive Director Anna Leigh Finkbonner offered, “this gracious ongoing pledge from Copper Canoe Woman enables our organization to take the first critical steps down the path to both support our beneficiaries and efforts by other organizations with a similar aim. On behalf of those that Rooted Resiliency will serve, we would like to thank everyone at Copper Canoe Woman!”

In addition to assisting with Rooted Resiliency, the Copper Canoe Woman team has established many beneficial strategic partnerships in Whatcom County, including vendors like ioCreative, Backcountry Bohemians and Bellingham Yoga Collective, along with key collaborations with institutions including Northwest Indian Community College, the Lummi Nation, Whatcom Allied Arts, and the Chambers of Commerce in Bellingham and Ferndale. Brown explained that her team was eagerly pursuing local Whatcom County sources for materials required in the Copper Canoe Woman Jewelry Manufacturing.

“The reality is, we could have picked any number of communities for Copper Canoe Woman to be headquartered in,” Brown said. “But Bellingham is not just a place for my husband and I to ‘meet in the middle’ between the rainforests of Canada and the deserts of Arizona; this is a community that has inspired and supported us in becoming an international brand, and for that we intend to thank this community and the many communities that have brought us to this point as best as we can.”

Copper Canoe Woman will be inviting Whatcom County residents to a ribbon-cutting at the new facility, along with a “Locals First” preview of both the new spring line of Copper Canoe Woman Jewelry and the launch of the new Copper Grizzly line. This event starts at noon on Friday March 31st and is free, but RSVP requested. Claim your spot and RSVP at

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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