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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Inuvialuit social media influencer breaks mold with Penningtons fashion teamup

CBC News | October 17, 2022

Categories: news

'Even when you're passed over ... you just keep persevering,' says the artist who goes by 'Inuk'

CBC News · Posted: Oct 17, 2022 2:55 PM CT | Last Updated: October 17

A woman poses in front of a painted mural.
Inuk poses as part of her collaboration with PENN. The social media influencer, who goes by her traditional name, grew up in Fort Simpson and Hay River, and now lives in Yellowknife. (Submitted by Inuk)

Growing up in the N.W.T.'s Dehcho region, it was hard for Inuk's parents to find clothing for her. Inuk, who goes by her traditional name, describes her body type as plus-size or "tall and fluffy."

Now, she's leveraged her social media channels where she already has a large following — 26,500 on TikTok and 15,300 on Instagram — to fulfil one of her bucket list goals: to become a model.

About three or four months ago, Inuk, the artist behind the jewelry brand Inuk360, started making TikTok videos specifically geared toward this goal, inspired by stars like Tess Holiday, Lizzo and the late Candy Palmater, who similarly showcase their plus sizes. 

In her videos, Inuk would write a couple of goals, one of them being to model for Penningtons' clothing, now rebranded as PENN.

She said her followers started tagging the clothing company in her videos, and "next thing you know, I got a message from one of their PR [representatives]." 

PENN got back to her and asked for her modelling portfolio. She didn't have one, but used her social media content as an example of her work.

"That's where we started talking back and forth. And that turned from modelling into doing a collaboration," Inuk said.

She was asked to do a 30-second video featuring outfits from the company's new fall collection.

A portrait of a woman posing outdoors near a mural painted on a rocky cliff face.
Inuk poses while showcasing her outfit. She had a bucket list goal of modelling, and recently had the chance to while doing a collaboration with the PENN clothing brand. (Submitted by Inuk)

Inuk said she hopes she can continue to do collaborations like this.

"I hope it's not going to be a one-time deal," she said.

Even if this is it for her teamup with PENN, Inuk said to keep an eye on her art, Inuk360, as "there's a lot of good things coming down the pipe." She's also made her mark as the first Inuvialuit model for PENN.

"One of the things I'm learning is that even when you're passed over, you're different and you get a lot of rejections at things you want to do, you just keep persevering," Inuk said.

She said it meant a lot to have a big company like PENN collaborate with her and that it goes to show that if you dream big, and keep plucking away you can achieve big goals — even if they seem unlikely.

She said now is the time for "reclaiming these spaces we have never been allowed [in] before."

Inuk plans to continue to leverage the power of her social media platforms to tell positive stories about the North, and to promote mental wellness and self love.

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