• Lani Hansen

The Sweetest Native succeeding in business

BY LANI HANSEN

REPORTER

Krissa Andrews' sister, Haley Godwin; her daughter; and her mother, Michelle Downing, show off ribbon skirts they made. Krissa Andrews owns The Sweetest Native. LANI HANSEN/GIDUWA CHEROKEE NEWS


TAHLEQUAH – The proud Keetoowah owner of The Sweetest Native, Krissa Andrews, has come a long way from the beginning of her business.


When Giduwa News last spoke with her, she was just starting out only making ribbon skirts, but now she is joined by the talents of her mother and sister.


After a year into having her own business, Andrews decided she wanted to join the Navy. She started business in 2019 and by 2020 she went to boot camp. Andrews had learned she was unable to do any outside work before boot camp, and she did not want to leave her customers unattended.


“I had asked my mom (Michelle Downing) and sister (Haley Godwin) if they can help run the business. Like I had said, I learned to sew from my mom, and my sister was good with social media. So, I figured with them it would help the business continue while I’m away,” she said.


Although she could not do any business while in boot camp, once Krissa was in the Navy, she would have time to get back to running her business. When she got into the Navy, it was hard for her to pick up where she left off because she could not find materials and did not have a sewing machine.


Krissa Andrews works on a skirt from her home in Virginia. Andrews joined the Navy a year after starting her business, The Sweetest Native. COURTESY/KRISSA ANDREWS


“My sister had learned how to do beadwork and it’s amazing what she can do,” Krissa said. “They have added to the business by doing hats, Hey Dudes, beading shoes and more. I appreciated the help from them, because I don’t remember how many followers I had before I added them and its more than tripled.”


Before Michelle Downing joined the business, she was working for Cherokee Nation. She saw some of the orders were backed up online, so she jumped right on to making skirts for the customers.


“She (Krissa) was still limited whenever she got out of boot camp,” Michelle said. “I think she did one skirt for someone and someone else had seen she was back in business, then we got busy so I jumped in to help. I did bead a hat and it sold quickly.”


At first Godwin only took photos of their work and posted them to Facebook but she picked up on beadwork. Adding in Godwin's beadwork and Michelle’s efforts, they helped the business expand.


“I wanted to see if I could bead my own hat, so my mom, my aunt and Krissa showed me what I needed such as needle and beads,” Godwin added. “I picked a design I wanted, and at first my mom said that it was going to be hard, but I thought well I like a challenge. I started and when I got halfway finished, I showed some people my work, and the word spread and I started getting orders in.”


Godwin started getting customers for beaded hats, some of her customers requested lanyards too. Her first lanyard she made was for her husband before making any others. Her other projects were beading wristlets and Hey Dudes shoes.


“People ask if I could bead Hey Dudes, and I thought it shouldn’t be too hard if I can do a hat,” she said. “So, I started beading a lot of those and have orders backed up until August, I can’t take any more orders.”


The Sweetest Native Facebook page has received over 1,000 followers within the last couple of months, according to Godwin.


“We never expected it to be something like this, we just wanted to learn how to bead on our own,” she said.


“I originally started sewing the skirts because my girls do stompdance, and I made the skirts for them,” Michelle said. “Then Krissa picked it up and she took it a different way, where you could wear them every day.”


Krissa has made the skirts to be more modernize for people to wear every day and not only for special occasions.


Since she has been in the Navy, Krissa has found time to set aside and run her personal business with The Sweetest Native. Krissa who is an aviation electrician’s mate, AEAN Andrews in the Navy, maintains and works on 5 MH53E helicopters, super stallions. Her command is Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Twelve (HM-12) in Norfolk, Virginia.


“It is the largest commissioned helicopter in the Navy, similar to the Marines CH53K, king stallion,” she stated.


Her supervisor was understandable about her other business and moved Krissa to the weekend shift of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


“That gave me Monday through Thursday to work on my projects and run to the store to get whatever materials I need,” Krissa said.


One of her recent projects she has worked on is the infant overall dress, which she believes has helped bring in followers too.


With the growth of her business, Krissa thanks her mom and sister for helping her out and adding their talents. All of them wanted to give thanks to their supporters and followers for The Sweetest Native.


For more information about The Sweetest Native, visit www.facebook.com/TheSweetestNative or on Instagram @TheSweetestNativeBrand.


Overall sets made by Krissa Andrews. COURTESY/KRISSA ANDREWS


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