“The whole experience was absolutely surreal,” Amy Willier of Moonstone Creation Native Art Gallery & Gift Shop says after getting to spend the day with popstar Usher. Usher was the feature performer of the Saturday, July 15 Virgin Mobile Concert Series in the Scotiabank Saddledome and headed down early to take a stroll through the Calgary Stampede markets to find some unique goods.

His first stop was the Indian Village Arts & Crafts area where local Indigenous vendors sell contemporary and traditional pieces. He was looking for authentic native art, so Willier’s display immediately caught his attention.

Willier (R) standing with her goods in Indian Village’s Arts & Crafts area with her colleague.

When asked what she enjoyed most about the interaction with Usher, Willier responded saying how impactful the teaching moments were. “I talked to him a lot about being authentic and true to culture – by not buying knock-offs and instead choosing to support local and native-made products. This is really what embracing culture is about,” she said.

Willier explained the different items for sale and how each represented something symbolic to their culture. “We bead what inspires us. And we consider ourselves to be people of the land so a lot of our items feature flowers because flowers are important in honouring medicine. You’ll also see eagles featured a lot because eagles are the bird that flies the highest, representing our spirit.”

The vast meaning and dedication to culture that is hidden within each piece so intricately intrigued Usher and he asked for more. Moonstone Creation has a second location on Stampede Park in the brand new Maker Market, featuring all local artisans, so Willier brought him to the second area to see more items.

Along the way, Willier pointed out Smithbilt Hats and mentioned to Usher that they are also a local company. Usher took a look and purchased a Smithbilt of his own!

Photo courtesy of Instagram: @smithbilthats

Usher was so impressed with the second location of Moonstone Creation that he asked for a special request. He purchased a leather jacket and asked to have it beaded. Willier was thrilled to oblige and the two headed to the Moonstone Creation Native Art Gallery & Gift Shop in Inglewood where Yvonne Jobin, Amy’s mother, was ready to begin the process.

Usher (L) with Jobin (R)

The jacket complete with its newly beaded designs.

Along with the jacket, Usher purchased several other beaded pieces to use in upcoming wardrobes, and special home-tanned hide products, which is created in a unique way that it’s believed that the hide still contains life.

Later that evening, Usher wore his newly beaded jacket, and a fully beaded Moonstone Creation belt, during his performance in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Courtesy of: facebook.com/moonstonecreation

Moonstone Creation supports more than 50 native producers by buying their items and selling in the Moonstone Inglewood store. “Many of these producers can’t set up an entire shop in a busy city so this way we can help everyone win,” explained Willier.

The store celebrated its eight anniversary this year and Amy and Yvonne are thrilled at how far it has come. “I started this business with my mom, as a single mom myself, with only faith and a lot of hard work,” said Willier. The store grew from Jobin’s home-based business and is now located 1219 10 Ave SE, Calgary, AB, and is open on Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.