Teresa Sanders, owner of Fill - Vernon’s Refill Store, opened the doors to her shop in Polson Park Mall on Dec. 3, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)

Teresa Sanders, owner of Fill - Vernon’s Refill Store, opened the doors to her shop in Polson Park Mall on Dec. 3, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)

Vernon Métis entrepreneur named B.C.’s Pow Wow Pitch winner

CEO ful-FILLs judge’s criteria, wins $500, advances to the final

A local Métis entrepreneur is now one step closer to winning $25,000 to grow her business that has already diverted more than 120,000 plastics from the landfill in Vernon alone.

Teresa Sanders, CEO of FILL – Vernon’s Refill Store, and Enterprize Challenge winner, was named Friday (Sept. 24) the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch British Columbia Winner and will now head onto the finals along with three other Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Over the summer, 1,642 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island (Canada, the U.S. and Mexico) entered their one-minute video pitch to the business contest presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify and Facebook.

Semi-finalists were named in August and paired with mentors to refine their pitches ahead of the presentation to the judges.

Sanders was selected as the B.C. winner after beating out 23 fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs and will advance to the finals with two other British Columbians; Triden Dispensers co-founder Derek Douglas and founder and artist at Sacred Matriarch Creative Ecko Aleck.

“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to connect with other like-minded businesses and organizations,” Sanders said. “I had no idea how empowered I would feel after hearing my fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs taking over the business world.”

FILL already has two locations, in Vernon and Kelowna, and continues to offer shoppers an alternative to single-use plastic products. To date, FILL customers have helped save more than 150,000 plastics from the environment.

“With recent heatwaves, forest fires and climate change, we need to be better for our land and make refilling mainstream,” Sanders said. “If I win the Pow Wow Pitch Grand Prize, I will use the funds to expand FILL through a franchise model across British Columbia.”

The finals will be streamed online Oct. 20. You can register here.

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