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The first Native-owned fabric store exclusively sells materials that celebrate Native culture

Fire Mountain Fabrics has become community's go-to for Native prints
Fire Mountain Fabrics has become community's go-to for Native prints 02:38

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. -- It's a first-of-its kind business in Minnesota, and it's fulfilling a big need. 

Fire Mountain Fabrics exclusively sells Native prints, and it's owned by two Native women, Arlene Fairbanks and Jessica Travis.

The store started online in October, and quickly turned into a brick-and-mortar store by February at the Cherokee Center in Brooklyn Park. 

It's a store with dual purpose. It fulfills a need in the community to provide Native fabrics that can used to create authentic Native regalia. It also is an educational space for people to learn more and celebrate their Native culture.

That's exactly what took place on Wednesday, when Native students from Bdote Learning Center visited the store on a field trip. The students drew up dream designs for Pow Wow skirts, and then were able to pick out the fabrics and ribbon to turn their designs into a reality. 

"Seeing those kids even speak Ojibwe, that was pretty cool," said Fairbanks.

"This is why we're doing this," said Travis.

Fairbanks and Jessica Travis are not only the owners, but they're best friends. They wanted to start a store that sold Native fabrics because the big box stores never had what they needed to make Native regalia.

"You either have to travel to go find it or you order it online," said Travis.

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Fire Mountain Fabrics was born so quickly. From an idea to a store front, it only took five months. That's because building the business quickly felt like the only option.

"I just remember thinking, 'Holy cow, they gave me six months, six months,' and it was stage 4 ovarian [cancer]," said Fairbanks.

Her cancer diagnosis changed her focus instantly.

"I was just devastated, really, and I remember driving with my son back home and it was like, what's important now?" said Fairbanks.

"When you go through treatments like [Arlene] was, and just watching that, there's no better time than today to make your dreams come true," said Travis.

The two made their dream happen, and put the word "fire" in their store name, which symbolizes "healing" in Native rituals, which is ultimately what this store is doing.

"It's definitely kept me with the will to just keep moving forward," said Fairbanks.

This dream is spreading beyond Minnesota. Since opening last month, Fire Mountain Fabrics has had customers from Canada, Washington State and the Dakotas.

Click here to learn more about their store.

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