A Timmins fashion designer says creating crafts and apparel clothing is what she loves doing the most.
Dolores Gull, 44, is from Weenusk First Nation currently living in Timmins.
Under her business Cree Style by De Lores, she creates a variety of handmade crafts and clothing apparel including ribbon skirts, masks, ribbon shirts, hoodies and more.
She has been doing it for almost three decades as being a fashion designer has been one of her biggest dreams since she was young.
Her mother, grandmother and aunt were her inspiration in creating her own work of crafts. She also finds inspiration from designers like Delina White and Janine Stabner.
When Gull works on pieces, it grounds her and takes her to a happy place.
“It brings me peace and joy. It restores my energy or takes away the feelings that were weighing me down,” she says. “I feel accomplished.”
In 2019, Gull and Jennifer Wabano held the first Indigenous Fashion Show at Ramada Inn in Timmins. Last year’s event was held virtually and it was hard for people to adapt, Gull says.
Gull is “crossing her fingers” in hopes to host another fashion show this fall.
“If the restrictions aren’t in place and things go well, we want to do it in-person again,” Gull says adding she wants to bring something different to the show by using leather, fox fur and different styles of jackets.
Her most requested orders are ribbon shirts and ribbon skirts. Working on a custom ribbon shirt can take up to 12 hours of non-stop work, she says.
Gull likes to incorporate wildlife such as geese or moose, the colours of sunrise or sunset, floral and strawberries in her work.
Seeing people enjoy wearing their orders brings her joy. Recently, she went to see her friend and as he was putting on a ribbon shirt, he had a smile on his face.
“As he was looking at the design work that I did, he was so proud. It gave him purpose, he was looking forward to wearing it on a special day,” she says.
Gull buys supplies from different places including Cochrane, Sudbury, Smooth Rock Falls or North Bay.
Gull also works with Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA). When clients from up north come to Timmins, she takes them to their appointments, makes sure they’re looked after and then takes them back to the airport for their return flight home.
When she works with clients who are elders, she speaks Cree with them and it makes her feel connected to the land.
She started this job about a year ago as she was “falling apart” financially and she decided to apply for the job to get herself together, so she could return to what she loves doing the most.
“If it was a choice, I would walk out right now and do what I love doing. But in the meantime, I’m going to do it for a little bit longer to get myself back on the feet, prepare myself. I just want to do what I want to do,” she says.
Gull also likes teaching. Last year, she was looking forward to teaching 15 youth how to make ribbon shirts and skirts. Gull says she was really excited to teach but because of the pandemic, the plans have been on hold. She also used to teach how to bead and make moccasins and ribbon skirts.
She says she misses going to powwows and ceremonies, celebrating life, running into friends, seeing other crafters’ work and the different styles of powwow dancing.
Gull has recently finished a beaded plague doctor mask for a mask exhibition in Santa Fe and she’s currently working on another mask that will be presented at an exhibition in Toronto.
Gull’s dream is to showcase her work at a fashion show in Toronto or Paris.
“That’s one of my dreams, one of my goals,” she says.