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Neechie Gear founder and CEO writes book to inspire others

Posted on 2018-06-28 in Alumni

Kendal Netmaker is one of the College of Arts and Science's Alumni of Influence.

By Shannon Boklaschuk

Kendal Netmaker (BA’11, BEd’11) wants to inspire others to make changes in their lives.

At the age of 31, Netmaker is an award-winning businessperson and University of Saskatchewan graduate who has just authored his first book. Entitled Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium, the book will be officially released on Oct. 6 but is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. It recounts Netmaker’s personal journey from growing up in a low-income family on Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan to becoming a successful entrepreneur and speaker.

Netmaker had long planned to write a book by the time he was 30. When he left the U of S following the completion of two degrees—a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education—becoming an author was one of his goals.

“I’ve had mixed advice from outsiders in terms of when I should write a book. Some say I should wait. . . . But you know what? I just want to do it,” Netmaker said in a recent interview.

“I have a unique story that needs to needs to be heard by some people and I think it’s going to do well. If anything, it will help bring more awareness to what we do and inspire people, so that’s the goal.”

Kendal Netmaker's book is entitled Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium.

Netmaker is well known today as the founder and CEO of the popular Neechie Gear clothing line, but his road to success took effort, determination and perseverance. Netmaker grew up on social assistance as a child of a single mother of four and had little opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities as a youth. However, an act of kindness literally changed his life forever.

A friend from South Africa that Netmaker met in elementary school noticed Netmaker was naturally athletic and wondered why he wasn’t playing on any of the local sports teams. Netmaker told his friend that he had no way of paying for the registration fees and had no means of travelling to and from the games and practices.

Soon after, his South African friend pulled him aside and said, “Kendal, I told my parents what you told me and they want to pay for your fees to play on my soccer team and we can even drive you to the reserve after all games (and) practices.”

Netmaker was astounded and accepted the kind offer. The family eventually gave Netmaker’s family a vehicle, enabling Netmaker and his sisters to become involved in sports that carried them through high school and into university. Netmaker earned a volleyball scholarship and graduated from the U of S with a degree in Native Studies and an education degree from the Indian Teacher Education Program in 2011.

While studying at the U of S, Netmaker began developing a clothing line. Throughout the process, he won or placed highly in several entrepreneurial competitions, including the 2010 Aboriginal Youth Idea Challenge, the 2011 W. Brett Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence’s i3 Idea Challenge and the 2011 Progress2Capital Business Planning Competition. Today Neechie Gear is headquartered in Saskatoon and donates a portion of its proceeds to help break down the financial barriers associated with sports for many children.

To date, Netmaker has founded and invested in five businesses and has received more than 25 business awards. In 2013, he was recognized as a CBC Future 40 recipient and Maclean’s magazine named him as one of Canada’s future leaders under 25. In 2014, the College of Arts and Science at the U of S honoured Netmaker as one of its Alumni of Influence. He currently lives in Saskatoon with his wife and two children, where he continues to run his company and mentor others in the business community.

Netmaker believes his new book will complement his speaking engagements, noting “a book is something that can leave a lasting imprint, as opposed to a 45-minute, 60-minute talk.”

“A book is something that can keep a relationship going with a reader, with someone that you do business with in the future,” he said. “It was just a fitting time and it was meant to happen, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Through his book, Netmaker wants to empower others and spread the message that no matter where people come from or what they have gone through, they have the power to enact change. He outlines five steps to success in the book, including making a simple choice; planning, preparing and expecting to win; using the power of one’s own story; turning pain into gain; and elevating one’s circle of influence.

“It’s a book of overcoming many, many obstacles, finding your purpose and going after what it is that you want in your life,” he said.

 Netmaker believes readers will be inspired.

“I just want whoever reads this to get an understanding that regardless of what it is that you’ve gone through in your life—the obstacles, the traumas, whatever it is that you’ve gone through—you can change it. I mean, that’s a theme in this book. If you don’t like the way things are right now, change it,” he said.

“And that’s a quote in there my grandma used to tell my mom and my mom told me when I was going through a rough time at life in the book. She told me, ‘If you don’t like the way things are, change it.’ And that’s kind of like the slogan of the book.”


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