Leigh Joseph (ancestral name Styawat), is an ethnobotanist, researcher and entrepreneur from the Squamish First Nation. She contributes to cultural knowledge renewal in connection to Indigenous plant and land-based relationships, and adds an Indigenous lens to her field of study. As founder of Sḵwálwen Botanicals, Leigh brings together Indigenous science and self care, providing gentle and effective skincare products that draw from the ceremonial aspects of plants. Incorporating sustainably harvested and sourced botanicals, Sḵwálwen unites ancestral traditions with modern beauty rituals, empowering people to connect to themselves and the natural world.
My first job ever was… Leading outdoor trips for kids at a summer camp.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to follow my passion and entrepreneurship offers me opportunities to do this.
I founded Sḵwálwen Botanicals because… I wanted a creative outlet for my community-based research with cultural knowledge renewal in connection to Indigenous plants.
I’m passionate about beauty and wellness because… through creating skincare products, I am able to explore my own reconnection to culture through learning about plants as well as share the stories and experiences of this through an Indigenous lens. I am also increasing Indigenous representation in the beauty and wellness space which is very meaningful for me.
My proudest accomplishment is… growing a business that employs Indigenous women from my community and facilitates the renewal and reconnection to land-based experiences and learning with culturally important plants.
“I love sharing my passion for this area of knowledge with others and contributing to the broader cultural knowledge renewal taking place in my, and other, Indigenous communities.”
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Take the time to find something you are passionate about as this will fuel you through all of the challenges of entrepreneurship as well as bring a deeper meaning to the work you do.
The thing I love most about what I do is… That it is so aligned with my own journey of reconnecting to culture and to the land. I love sharing my passion for this area of knowledge with others and contributing to the broader cultural knowledge renewal taking place in my, and other, Indigenous communities.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… Finding support networks and mentors. Having the guidance from experts and leaders in the field is integral to the success and growth of my business.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I am a mother to two wonderful and spirited kids who inspire me every day!
I stay inspired by… spending time on the land, sharing knowledge and experiences, and finding ways to put beauty into the world from an Indigenous perspective.
The future excites me because… Indigenous business is on the rise with representation increasing across many sectors. With this comes increased opportunities, visibility, and agency for Indigenous Peoples.
My next step is… To continue to grow Sḵwálwen in the luxury skincare space and be a leader in my industry. To partner with major retailers at the same time as expanding our direct-to-consumer business to continue driving growth. As Sḵwálwen evolves I will continue to ground the business in Indigenous land-based knowledge and teachings.