HGTV Feature! One strawberry at a time

HGTV!! We are thrilled to share withyou this HGTV Feature about Heart Berry!!

How Heart Berry Is Reclaiming Indigenous Design, One Strawberry at a Time

Indigenous artist Giizh (Sarah) Agaton Howes celebrates Ojibwe plants, Native patterns and how the two are always connected. Meet the maker and learn more about these beautiful, bold florals in Native design.

June 27, 2024


She creates from the heart. Heart berry that is. Giizh Howes, an Anishinaabe-Ojibwe Native American from Fond du Lac Reservation and Muscogee Creek, created Heart Berry in 2014 at her kitchen table. Today, her homewares and accessories are shoppable in her Cloquet, Minnesota, store and online, as well as select pieces and collaborations with Snoqualmie-owned Eighth Generation in Seattle. From towels to bomber jackets, there are strawberries everywhere in Giizh’s designs.

“Strawberries were a constant in my beadwork, sewing and drawing,” she said. “The word in Ojibwe for strawberry is ode’imin, meaning heart berry. There are many beautiful stories about strawberries from many tribal nations, and the strawberry was the connecting plant in the heart of all my work. We use these designs to remind us — and I want to be reminded — to lead, work and think from the heart.”

Home is where the heart berry is. Giizh says her art is informed by the dense woods of the Ojibwe Indigenous land. “Florals are meant to teach us about the foods, medicines and plants for our good life,” she says. “Especially during the time when these were outlawed, our ancestors drew, quilled, beaded and sewed them onto our everyday items to remind us.”


These crafts, especially beading, are incredibly important to Giizh and in the last decade, she’s taught nearly 900 people how to make moccasins. “My true proudest, most fulfilling, heart-swelling work is teaching our community our cultural art and how to become a maker,” she says. “This work of cultural revitalization is transformative and healing.”

As a designer, Giizh is most proud of taking back the wool blanket in Native design, as it is so often appropriated by large textile companies. Working with Eighth Generation, they are the first Native artists and businesses to design, produce and sell wool blankets. “Designing my Renewal Blanket felt like the chance to make a legacy,” she said.

Heart Berry

11 American Indian and Alaskan Native-Founded Home Brands We Love to Shop

Support these Indigenous-owned businesses throughout your home and life.

“I was thinking about all the hardship happening in our community, from depression, addiction and suicide. But the flip side of that coin is all the powerful work around protecting our water, restoring the wild rice, connecting to our ancestral ways and foods and revitalizing our language and culture. This is the work I see around me every day, and we are not talking about this enough. I am so proud to share our beautiful wild rice, strawberries, traditional tobacco and foods such as fiddleheads. When we are in charge of our own narratives, this complexity and beauty is what and who we truly are.”

Giizh says her background in beading demands that shapes be elegant and representational  even now, as she’s designing larger textiles. But there’s nothing dainty about these florals. They’re bold, have rich, deep colors and both demand attention and maintain a sense of allure at the same time.

“Coming from an Ojibwe beadwork tradition, my work is often playing off black,” she says. “The black velvet beading tradition is iconically Ojibwe. This stark contrast really allows the colors to shine. There is magic in these plants standing off the black.”

Heart Berry

Giizh says no matter the type of piece, she’s always imagining it living on in the world. “As a moccasin maker and beader by origin, I am almost always designing for a living working item. We have always adorned our life to represent who we are and to share our beauty with others.

“I want Ojibwe people to feel seen and proud and non-Native people to know they are getting real authentic Native design,” she says. “My favorite part of seeing people living with my work is that it makes them feel beautiful. I want their faces to light up when they walk into their living room and see my blanket on their couch. I want them to feel amazing wearing my silk scarf. I want them to feel ‘deadly,’ as we say, walking down the street in my embroidered bomber.”

Giizh Agaton Howes, Heart Berry

Giizh and her team at the Heart Berry store in Cloquet, Minnesota.

Deadly is the highest form of a tough compliment, Giizh says. “As Native women, we pride ourselves on our resilience, strength and grit.”

To look deadly is to be both beautiful and strong. The strawberries Giizh depicts are beautiful but can also withstand brutal Northern winters. And yet they keep growing and blooming and feeding people. Her designs carry that metaphor.

When dreaming of her next creation, Giizh says she’s always outside, watching plants as they grow, noticing their shapes and thinking about the stories she wants to tell. She has a small garden and when her family recently moved to ancestral land, she brought their strawberry plants with her and replanted them.


Thank you so much to HGTV for this thoughtful article!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published