Co-owner Lauren Good Day Giago, along with her mother, Deborah Painte, and sister, Vanessa Frank, opened S&S in October, and it’s the only Native-owned and Native-operated business in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota.
“I would love to see a lot more Native businesses open,” Giago told ICTMN. “[Native businesses] are currently needed in Rapid City because we have such a high population of Native Americans.”
Giago describes the business as a half-boutique, half-gallery that sells western and Native Americana clothing as well as contemporary Native American art. She graduated from the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2013, and has a website called LaurenGoodDayGiago.com, where she showcases her contemporary clothing, jewelry and award-winning artwork.
According to the Associated Press, First Lady Michelle Obama has some of Giago’s work in her collection. And a traditional dress Giago made in honor of her grandfather, Blue Bird, was purchased by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indians. Her work has also been featured in the Santa Fe Indian Art Market and Heard Museum in Phoenix.
S&S is her first bricks-and-mortar business, and the 27-year-old worked with her friend and business consultant, Kim Tilsen-Braveheart, to develop a business plan to open the store. Her family helped her start the business with bootstrap financing. She told Indianz.com, “We hope to become one of the faces of Native American business ownership, and sharing our culture is a passion we express in our work.”
Sharing the culture is deeply rooted in Giago’s tradition. “I see [starting a business] as picking up on our traditional culture,” she said. Her community, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes in North Dakota, was once a major trade destination. “Traditionally our villages were the epicenter of trade, and neighboring tribes would come trade with us.” Perhaps this business-minded tradition will rub off on other Native Americans in the Rapid City area.