Thursday, December 18, 2008

Florida Snowman

E-mail from my sister, Lisa in Tampa:
Florida is the only warm spot!! In the 70's today and I've got the AC on just to keep the Christmas Tree alive for Christmas. Thinking about going to Disney, they have snow but it's soap suds that look like snow at a distance. Sad..Huh??
I asked Lisa to send me a photo of herself for this post - she sends me this! Ha-ha-ha! Love and miss you sis!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

In my corner of the world we are having a delightful winter storm. 17 inches of fluffy powder snow fell in 24 hours. Virtually everything is shut down - schools and businesses are closed. It is peaceful and quiet outside. I like a snowstorm because it halts my hectic daily pace. I'm at the mercy of mother nature and she just ordered me to slow down and enjoy the season.
That's real as it gets!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh Gee - Thanks Sister

Lisa:"Just finished up my Christmas shopping, put the tree up and now ready to enjoy the season... I'll start baking, baking and baking."
Me: "WHAT?!?!?!?! Are you insane? From another planet? Lying?"
The "other sister", Lisa is extremely organized. Always has been. In high school she was the kind of teenager who would iron her school clothes the night before, get up super early to style her hair and was always in a sweet mood.
I on the other hand.........always running late with bed head and wrinkled clothes.
Love you sis.......you inspire me to at least start a Christmas list.


Friday, December 5, 2008

5 Reasons to Get a Pedicure

1. The Massage Chairs....Pedicures are a total relaxation experience when you sit back in the automatic massage chair. Ooo-la-la!
2. Slinky Sandals....look much better at holiday parties when your toes are painted a pretty color.
3. It's Safer Than A Hair Cut......If you hate it, you can just wipe it off with a bit of acetone - need I say more?

4. A Wide Array of Nail Polish.....choose from a rainbow of shades. My nails are always french manicure but my toes can be bright orange with flower decals. It's just good fun!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NIGA Chairman with the Sisters!

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. is a huge fan of Sister Sky. Ernie is a great Native American leader, personal friend and devoted customer. He buys Kevin's Cure Body Lotion by the case full! Sister Sky lotion helps restore and heal dry skin during cold Wisconsin winters.....just ask Ernie! Order on-line at: http://www.sistersky.com/
Monica (left) Ernie Stevens Jr (center) Marina (right)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

OMG

This stuff is so good...Harry and David Moose Munch. Last night I went to Costco to buy veggies and coffee......or so I said as I left my house. I knew all along I would buy a box of Moose Munch and open it impatiently on the drive home. "Only at Christmas time," I remind myself as I reach in the bag and pop the chocolate/caramel/cashew popcorn into my mouth. I could live on this stuff....and quickly gain 20 pounds or so. I tried to corrupt my sister this morning at the office. I pulled out the Moose Munch and she said "Oh no, not that. I am not going to get started on it so soon." Tis the season to indulge. That's real! http://www.harryanddavid.com/

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roller Boogie.....NOT

Tonight I went roller skating! A bit wobbly and fearing injury I took it slowly.........what a hoot! Pre-teens were like speed balls going around and around to loud hip hop tunes and flashing disco lights.
Me: I have to spit my gum out.
Hubby: Why?
Me: It's throwing my balance off.
Hahaha!
Try it one time: the most liberating experience is doing something you haven't done in 30 years! That's real!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This Thanksgiving...............

I am grateful for the strength and resilience of my ancestors to survive and thrive so that I am here today.
I am thankful I can send my daughter to the store to buy milk! (Yippee-she drives now!)
I am happy to have the love and support of good friends and family.
I am blessed to know my path and purpose in life.
Each season of my life brings new lessons and deeper meaning in my journey.
For all of this………….I am most thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sweet 16 and Driving

My 16 year old daughter, Leah DROVE to school this
morning! She passed her DMV test on Friday, purchased insurance on Saturday and drove solo today!
Me: Did you get to school ok?
Leah: Yes, but I parked uber far away.
Me: Why?
Leah: The parking lot was crowded and scary!
Can you imagine the most frightening thing in your life is a congested high school parking lot! It gets easier with practice and eventually the things that seemed terrifying become insignificant. You go baby girl! That's real!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Birthday:Cha - Cha - Cha!

video

My niece, Sophia Monica is singing me Happy Birthday at my midnight bowling party. Can I be 6 again.......this sweet and adorable.........please!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Warrior Moccasin Project

A Native American tradition, especially among the Plains Tribes, was that any time a warrior went to battle he would wear only new moccasins. The reason for this was the new moccasins were to help insure his safe return home from the upcoming battle. Should he be killed or seriously injured, the new moccasins would ease his transition into the afterlife.
The Warrior Moccasin Project draws from that tradition and honors the sacrifice being made by our Native American troops currently serving in harm’s way in the Middle East. You can learn more by going to the National Native American Veterans Association website: http://www.nnava.org/wmpindex.html
On this Veterans Day, many thanks to our brave men and women both past and present serving in the armed forces.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fortune Small Business....Again!

The sisters were featured in the January 2009 issue of Fortune Small Business.
The magazine gave us a "small business make-over."
We felt like divas......our first national story and this very cool photo was taken on a ridge behind our production facility on the Spokane Indian Reservation! (How we hiked to the top of that mountain is another story.) The writer called the other day and said "girls, I'm going to do an update. Our readers want to know how the sisters are doing with their business!" How cool is that? You can read the FIRST article at:
http://money.cnn.com/2007/12/03/smbusiness/Sister_sky.fsb/
We'll post the UPDATE when it hits news stands!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pacific Cedar Rocks!

Hi Sisters......I wanted to tell you that I purchased your Pacific Cedar body lotion, shampoo,conditioner and body wash. They are absolutely amazing! The fragrance is wonderful and the scent stays with you. I just love the cedar scent! If you had a cedar perfume, I would buy that also! I have very dry skin and the lotion has made a big difference. I'm pretty picky about shampoo because a lot of them leave my hair kinda flat. The cedar shampoo is by far one of the best shampoos I have ever used as is the conditioner. I hope you continue these products as I have found nothing comparable.
Hooked on Pacific Cedar,
Lynne
We love it when happy customers take the time to give us a shout out. Many thanks Lynne - we'll keep Pacific Cedar on the menu!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day - A New Beginning

Last night I witnessed history - we elected our first president of color. The campaign rhetoric is over and now the heavy lifting begins. I have worked hard, struggled and been challenged this year in business. I refuse to believe problems can't be solved. My business will succeed if I have the capacity for adaptive change. I must be creative, resourceful and diligent. I will be part of the solution as this country moves into a new day. I am hopeful again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Birthday Month!

I celebrate a birthday this month.

My philosophy: when you're over 40 you are entitled to a BIRTHDAY MONTH.

Everyday of the month you should celebrate the lessons you've learned, the life you've built and the family you're blessed with. Over 40's have earned it. We are somewhere smack dab in the MIDDLE of it all: marriage, children, career and life goals.

Happy birthday to me..........all through the month of November!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

National Congress of American Indians

Founded in 1944, NCAI is the national tribal government organization consisting of over 250 member tribes from throughout the United States.

NCAI holds an annual conference each year to discuss issues and events that impact Native communities. Political, business and social leaders attend to share ideas and network. This year the event was held on October 20-24 in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.
Sister Sky participates in the event's annual tradeshow to showcase our company's products and services. What a great conference to stay connected, stay informed and discover opportunity!


Sisters with Agua Caliente Tribal Chairman, Richard Milanovich



Richard is a huge fan of Sister Sky!





Me with country recording artist, Crystal Shawanda


This Native beauty is well on her way to HUGE success. What a wonderful voice and tremendous spirit - you go sister! We are so proud of you!






Sisters with President of the National Indian Business Association, Pete Homer.

Pete knows both the struggles and success of Indian owned businesses. Thanks Pete for your constant support and words of encouragement!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On the Road Again

Off to Phoenix in the morning. Sister Sky will have a booth at the annual National Congress of American Indians trade show. Marina and I will be there all week.

Business Cards (check)
Sales Kits (check)
Lotion Samples (check)
Good Attitude (check)

One thing I've learned........if you're an entrepreneur nobody sells the vision of your company like YOU! I have three golden rules in business: believe in it, work hard and stay positive. When nothing else makes sense.......revert back to the three rules.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saved by Friday!

What a crazy week. Beyond hectic.........the kind of week that makes you wonder if you'll survive with no casualities. We've been working non-stop for three weeks on a GIANT order for a new resort hotel. This week was the home stretch and our ship deadline was today. We got the order out - yipppeee! Add to that stress, we filed an extension on our taxes way back in April (when organized people file), so October 15th was our drop deadline. Of course we waited until the 11th hour and our accountant wasn't thrilled with our procrastination.
What was my lesson this week? I earned this weekend. I will take every moment of it and ENJOY. I won't answer e-mails, fill web orders or work on spreadsheets. I will carve pumpkins with my son, help my daughter get ready for the homecoming dance and go to a friend's birthday bonfire with my husband.
Balance.........that's my lesson.
Nothing will be perfect. It won't go smoothly. It will be hard work. Doing my best will get me there and the rest will take care of itself~

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Work Smarter - Not Harder!

We just installed two more filling units to our automated production line. Words cannot describe how excited we are! We used to thump along at 30 bottles a minute - we are now bolting out 60 bottles a minute!
Manufacturing experts would say we have successfully increased our output speed and ramped up for big sales...........okay.........so we're ready. Let's go Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Jimbo's. Bring on the BIG orders! Pictured here: Tribal youth employees witness business growth in action!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Super Woman #2

Margo has been my friend since third grade. We grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. We went to college at the University of Washington. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and I returned the honor at hers. When I feel like a complete zero......when I am having a pity party and feeling completely overwhelmed..........I am inspired by Margo. "Amazing" doesn't come close to describing this woman! Margo was the Spokane Tribe's FIRST tribal member attorney! Margo recently completed her masters degree in urban planning! Margo currently serves as a judge in a local tribal court! On top of all that..... she is a single parent, raising three small children. Margo.......you rock!
You go girl!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Seven Generations



Our logo is unique and meaningful to us both personally and culturally.
On top of our company name sits seven "feathers" to represent the Native American Seven Generations Concept.
We explain the concept this way: children are our most precious resource. They represent our proud past and our bright future. Our company is committed to protecting and providing for not just this generation but the future seven generations. As company owners, we care deeply about contributing to the health of our community while building a sustainable and responsible business for future generations. Pictured here: Sophie, Patty and Stephanie at the annual Spokane Tribal Pow Wow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Spirit Sister

Kathy is our spirit sister.
Due to insanely hectic schedules, we can go weeks without talking but when we get together, it's just magic! We laugh, we joke, we advise each other on jeans, earrings and lip gloss. We talk about our kids, husbands, homes and jobs. Our children went to the same pre-school, our families have vacationed in Mexico together. Kathy and I were bridesmaids in Marina's wedding. Kathy camps out with us at tribal pow-wows and travels to traditional ceremonies to be by our side!
Kathy is a true spirit sister: a relationship as powerful and nourishing as those linked by birth. We love you Kat! Pictured: Kathy (left) Marina (center) Monica (right)
-Monica

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Kevin

People often ask me how Kevin is doing.......he is after all the reason I started making lotion some 13 years ago. He is the inspiration behind the company and has a lotion named after him: "Kevin's Cure." Kevin is doing just fine. He has outgrown his severe eczema. He has a few outbreaks but manages it well with his lotion. In fact, he has become quite the spokesperson for Kevin's Cure Lotion. He takes samples of his lotion to school to share and then tells people where to buy! He is a healthy, hilarious, bright, witty kid who loves to skateboard and hang out with his buddies. Kev turned 14 today. He is pictured here with his cousin, Sophie. Kevin's Cure Body Lotion is available at: http://www.sistersky.com/
-Monica

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sister Sky Trains Tribal Youth

Sister Sky proudly participates in the Spokane Tribe's 477 Youth Employment Program.
We employee teens aged 14 to 17 at our manufacturing facility on the Spokane Indian reservation. Teens on the reservation get the opportunity to see a business in action! We think creating an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age is positive. Teens are exposed to the entire manufacturing and distribution process. There is a lot of pride in manufacturing a product and a great sense of accomplishment - our youth employees witness that first hand. As they pack and ship orders to customers all across the country, their eyes are open to a larger world beyond the reservation. Pictured here: 3 tribal youth employees and production manager, Richard Simeon. We are proud of the positive impact we can create in our community. It inspires and encourages us to keep moving forward!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Teaming Up!

The Sisters are exhausted trying to do all the sales for the company. In fact, our motto is "work smarter, not harder."
Rather than let opportunity slip away, we are are teaming up with other entrepreneurs to get more done!
Nizhoni Keyah, Inc. has been appointed our Sales Broker & Representative in Indian Country.
Nizhoni Keyah, Inc. (‘beautiful land’) is a Navajo owned company specializing in American Indian products.
NKI will be handling Native American gift store accounts in the United States. If you are a buyer or store owner interested in retailing Sister Sky products, contact NKI at: (888) 317-8325, ext 202
Pictured here are principal owners of NKI: Hawk and Pam Atcitty
P.S Check out NKI's very own fabulous hot sauce line at: http://www.pueblosalsa.com/

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Other Sister

There is a third Sister.........she lives way down south in sunny Florida!
I had the chance to visit our sister, Lisa this week on a business trip to Orlando. We spent two days yapping, laughing and having sister fun. (She never had a pedicure! I fixed that and made her promise to treat herself once a month!)
My visit reminded me how important it is to nurture family relationships. We are all busy with careers, children, homes and spouses..........call, e-mail, write or visit your sister. Sisters are forever friends! -Monica




Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Act of Kindness

I am continually amazed when a blessing is bestowed upon me in this hectic life! I received this beautiful artwork print from a wonderful person who heard a keynote address I made at a business conference. His enclosed note read: "What a pleasure to meet you and hear you talk. I saw this print and thought of you and your journey in life. Gathering roots is a traditional way of life for the first people. So your journey to heal your son has led you to find and gather herbs of the earth; you return to the ways of our ancestors. A parent seeking healing for a child and the earth answers and heals us all, soothing our bodies and reminding us who we really are."
This act of kindness reminds me that I am exactly where I need to be: Honoring my purpose and path in life. When the days get long and the work load is full, a thoughtful gesture restores me. We are all connected. I am grateful. -Monica
Print: "She Called it the Root of Life" By George Flett, Spokane Tribe.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

She's a Superwoman

My sister, Marina, is a mother, wife, entrepreneur and adult college student! This spring she started an accelerated program in Organizational Management at a local university. Essentially, four years of courses are crammed into 18 months!
On a recent business trip she told me, "I make sure the kids are fed and the laundry is done. Beyond that, I just can't be concerned right now." I love that ability to let go and be honest. Guilt free and focused! My sister is investing in a goal that will enrich her life. She is truly an inspiration to me! To quote the beautiful Alicia Keys:
Even when I'm a mess
I still put on a vest
With an S on my chest
Oh yes I'm a Superwoman
You go girl!
-Monica

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Shout Out from Key West

Hello ladies. Today I received my second shipment from you two, and I have to tell you what a miracle Kevin's Cure Lotion has been for me! I've had eczema for 11 years on my hands and feet, ever since I've been a full time bartender. I've tried all the lotions along with my meds, but yours has truly been the best. A doctor recommended Cingulair, the allergy pills, and they helped the first 6 months, but I haven't needed to take one since using Kevin's Cure. I'm hoping to even cut back on the medicated lotions in the near future. Just had to let you know and I'm spreading the word down here in Key West! Ironically, my husband's name is Kevin :) From: D.D. Key West, Florida.
We love it when someone takes the time to share good words of encouragement. It is a blessing to know our products are making a difference! Thank you! BTW we love the picture of you and Kevin in paradise.
-The Sisters
(Kevin's Cure Body Lotion available at: www.sistersky.com)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Suit Up. Smile. Network.

We just returned from the 14th Annual Oklahoma Indian Gaming Conference and Trade Show in Oklahoma City.
Successful business owners will tell you over and over "it's not what you know, but who you know."
Building business relationships with industry professionals keeps us in the know about hotel, spa and casino projects where our products and services may be needed. In a competitive business environment, look for opportunity. Network. Ask questions. Be seen. Never run out of business cards. You won't know what is on the horizon if you don't get out there and mingle! Join a business network group or your local chamber. Most people are willing to share, help and make introductions. Simply ask.
We are pictured here with our dear friend and fellow entrepreneur, Walt Lamar. Walt is a networking guru. How he remembers each and every name is a mystery to me!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sister Sky: A Perfect Blend of Entrepreneurship and Native Wisdom

By AJ Naff

Published in
Indian Gaming Magazine
June 2008

Sisters Monica Simeon and Marina TurningRobe (Spokane
Tribe) strive to impart Native culture and wisdom with their
company Sister Sky, which manufactures and distributes bath
and body products created with botanicals and other natural
ingredients. “Our vision for the company and for the product
line is to create natural products inspired by Native American
herbal wisdom,” saidMonica. “We create a quality product, but
also share cultural knowledge in a way to promote harmony,
balance, sustainability, and cultural education.”
Monica and Marina founded Sister Sky in 1999. Monica's
son, Kevin, suffered from a severe skin condition that causes
dry, inflamed skin.Monica purchased several varieties of creams
and lotions, but none of them alleviated her son's symptoms.
Moreover, many of the products irritated his skin further.
Monica consulted a number of traditional herbalists and began
concocting lotions in her own kitchen, eventually creating
one that helped heal her son's skin. “As Monica was going
through this process, we discussed the possibility of creating
a business,” saidMarina. “It was something we thought we could
dabble in, but as we did more research about the industry we
became more serious about it.”
And so Sister Sky was born. The sisters leased manufacturing
space in their hometown of Spokane from a local resident
who had done some work in the cosmetic industry. The space
came complete with a small, FDA-approved lab andmanufacturing
equipment. “We were able to work with himand became
accustomed to the equipment that's used,” said Marina. “He
helped us learn how to transfer ingredients and size the recipes
into smaller and larger batches.” Monica and Marina's whole
family would work 12- to 13-hour days over entire weekends
mixing raw ingredients, then pouring product into bottles and
boxing them for distribution.
Sister Sky started out in the general gift industry, which
according to Marina is like being a little fish in a vast ocean.
The company regrouped and focused on exactly who their
market should be. “We concentrated on how we could continue
to grow within our culture and within the Indian gaming
industry,” said Marina. “We decided our niche market would
be Indian Country and that we would focus on Native
American hotels and resorts.”The company distributed an array
of soaps, shampoos and lotions to Native hotel and resort
properties with a primary focus being to positively impact
Indian Country.
The products were so popular that the company had tomove
into a larger facility which they built on the Spokane
Reservation. With a larger, more modern facility at their
disposal, Sister Sky can now manufacture larger quantities of
productmore efficiently. “I believe there is such a strong sense
of purpose to what we've built,” said Monica. “We've established
a product linemanufacturer on tribal lands and we fully
intend to create products that are authentic and respectful to
tradition. We take that very seriously in terms of how we
introduce new products.”
Sister Sky's products are created from natural ingredients
and have cultural significance, whether specific historical
value to a particular tribe or pertaining to Native Americans
as a whole. “We had to create a product line that was truly
unique,” said Monica. “What sets us apart is that we create
products that are natural, but also share some type of cultural
wisdom which comes from Native American plant tradition.”
Native Americans have always valued the benefit of healing
herbs, a fact that Sister Sky enhances and highlights with
its product line. “There really is nothing like our product on
the market.”
When Monica and Marina think about creating a new
product, they commit themselves to exhaustive research.
“Somebody might suggest to us, 'You really should do a
cranberry line,'” said Monica. “So we'll determine how
indigenous cultures use cranberry traditionally, then we'll tell
that story. This enhances what we bring to market in a way
people can connect with, in a way that gives personality to the
product line, and in a way that adds value.”
Sister Sky has eliminated as many synthetic ingredients as
possible from its products. Synthetics common to cosmetics,
such as mineral oil, lanolin, and petroleum, are removed and
replaced with natural, healthier alternatives, such as sweet
almond oil, coconut oil, and shea butter. “In addition
to that, when we formulate a product we add botanicals,”
said Monica. For example, Sister Sky's Sweet
Grass line contains elderberry extract, an antioxidant
rich in vitamins A and C. “What we do when we incorporate
any type of botanical or natural ingredients into
our products is keep it as basic as possible and have a
real purpose for adding them.”
Both Marina and Monica are staunch advocates of
entrepreneurship, even working with their tribe to conduct
youth training. “It gives the youth on our reservation
the opportunity to see a business being built,” said
Monica. “We think creating that entrepreneurial spirit
at a young age is positive.” Sister Sky even hires youths
during the summer, exposing them to the entire process of
manufacturing and distribution. “There's a lot of pride inmanufacturing
a product and a great sense of accomplishment.”
Though Sister Sky has had much success in Indian Country,
it hasmany plans for growth. “What we want to do is have
a positive impact on our tribal economy,” said Marina. “And
as we continue to grow, we'd like to locate distribution andmanufacturing
facilities on smaller reservations, creating a network
on tribal lands.”Monica andMarina also see the possibility of
growing into a national brand, expanding into retail stores, and
offering not only bath and body products, but eco-friendly
products as well. “We plan to move forward with our brand
vision,” saidMarina. “Whatever we decide to brand under the
Sister Sky name will have values conducive to our culture.” 
This article appears with permission from Indian Gaming Magazine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sister Sky Approved to Use "Made by American Indians" Trademark



Sister Sky, a certified Native American, women owned company has been approved by the Intertribal Agriculture Council to use the “Made by American Indians” trademark on the company’s herbal bath and body care products.

Sister Sky manufactures lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash at a production facility on tribal land. Principal partners are real life sisters, Monica Simeon and Marina TurningRobe, both enrolled members of the Spokane Tribe in Washington State.

“We are proud to say our product is made in Native America. Now we can display the trademark on our products. The trademark is a symbol of authenticity,” Simeon said.

The “Made by American Indians” trademark assists consumers in identifying authentic American Indian produced goods.

According to the United States Department of Commerce, as much as 20% of the estimated $1 billion spent annually on Indian goods is spent on fake imitations not produced by Native Americans.


“Sister Sky products are inspired by Native American herbal wisdom. Our unique formulas contain nature’s own healing herbs from the Earth. We tell the plant tradition stories on each product in a way that promotes cultural sharing, so the use of this trademark will validate to the consumer what they’re buying is real,” TurningRobe added.

The “Made by American Indians” trademark was registered with the U.S. Patent Office in January of 1995. The authority for licensing the use of the trademark is vested in the Intertribal Agriculture Council of Billings, Montana.

According to the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the “Made by American Indians” trademark should serve as an expression of tradition, culture and pride. Through increased use of the trademark on Indian products, Native American producers will begin to realize a larger market share while the consumer will gain a heightened awareness of the meaning of the trademark.


“When you see the “Made by American Indians” trademark on Sister Sky products in retail stores, you’ll know what you are buying is both unique and authentic,” said Simeon.