By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Qualla Boiz, a business owned by three EBCI tribal members, is specializing in decals with Cherokee designs. The trio of Madison Hye Long, Lacey Arch, and Cole Wildcatt have combined their individual talents, added a strong dose of friendship, and created a company that fills a niche.
“It all started a few months ago,” said Long. “We’ve always talked about doing something with entrepreneurship and doing something on the Qualla Boundary. We started throwing out ideas, and came up with the idea of making stickers and starting something new.”
Wildcatt said the three friends, all Cherokee High School Class of 2015 graduates, talked about it for the longest time, “And, then one day, it just started, and it took off.”
Long said the initial price of decals weighed in on their decision to start with them as a medium. “Stickers sell, and stickers will be the easiest way to show people our designs.”
Their business has really taken off, due in part to the internet as they’ve already filled orders from other states including Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington, and more. “Social media has been on our side,” Long commented. “We have it, so we use it…hashtags and tagging.”
The Qualla Boiz are self-sufficient in many aspects of their business. “We were getting them made for us,” Wildcatt noted, “but, now we’re making them.”
Long said they plan to expand the business into other items. “We’re all pretty open-minded, and we’re hoping for the best. A lot of people are loving our designs, and once we get reimbursed with what we’ve invested in this and start making money, we want to put them on t-shirts, hats, patches, and more. We want to be just a whole design company.”
Wildcatt noted that the company has already begun doing custom design work and has already done several helmet stickers for softball teams. “We’ve had someone put in an order for their truck. They wanted something specifically made for their vehicle.”
Arch said she’s very excited for the custom orders. “It’ll be nice to do more individual things and getting that work out there.”
Long said their creative process is interesting. “We all think very differently, and it works good.”
She said their work is very collaborative with all three having input and ideas. “We’re always together, and we’ll just be riding down the road and say, ‘hey, I’ve got an idea’ which is cool because we’ve got our Silhouette Studio decal/sticker maker, and we can just go home and make it.”
The trio didn’t take out any loans to start the business. Rather, they used money from their EBCI Minor’s Trust Fund. “We’re trying to save it, and we invested it into the company,” said Long.
Wildcatt said it’s already working out, “Right now, we’re already about to break even.”
But, the business itself is more about making money. “We love where we live, and we really want to show that through our stickers, and that’s why we’re doing the basket designs,” said Long.
Wildcatt added, “And, we’re proud of who we are, and this is us so we’re just sharing that part of us…these are Cherokee designs so when people buy them, they are ours and they’ll know that.”
The three share so much including being Cherokee High School graduates, and they credit staff there with helping them reach this goal. “Sharon Bradley was our business teacher, and she always stressed that we need business around here. We have these little craft shops that sell headdresses. We need Indian-owned and ran places.”
Qualla Boiz will be out and about some this summer before heading back to school. They have garnered a license to set up and sell their decals at the Cherokee Art Market (located across from the KFC parking lot) area on Friday and Saturday nights in conjunction with the Cherokee Bonfire events.
Long said their business is about following dreams. “If any of the youth want to do something like this, just do it.”
Visit the Qualla Boiz online:
- To shop their Etsy page and purchase decals, visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/QuallaBoiz?ref=search_shop_redirect
- Instagram: @QuallaBoiz