THUNDER BAY -- Ed and Maxine Wesley, owners of the online apparel store Max-Wear and brick-and-mortar store Wolf Tracks, started their family business in the 1980s. The couple lived in Ginoogaming First Nation at the time, and Maxine, a talented artist and seamstress, made fleece jackets with unique designs incorporating animals. With no Internet, it was Ed’s job to sell the jackets that his wife created.
The couple eventually moved to Thunder Bay and started selling Maxine’s creations and other Aboriginal items such as moccasins at a store on Red River road. She discontinued the fleece jackets, moving on to elaborate large fabric murals that she designs and sews all by herself. Ed and the family designs T-shirts, hats and hoodies with aboriginal designs and artwork, selling both in the store and the online store, max-wear.com.
The Wesleys have shipped the murals and clothing to customers all over Canada. “We’ve sent murals to B.C., the east coast, Quebec, a lot in Ontario,” Ed says.
The jackets Maxine used to make are still popular, with old customers coming back and asking for more. The couple have been trying to find another seamstress to make them, since Maxine’s time is dedicated to the art murals. In addition to the dozens of designs they sell on the website, she takes custom orders as well, and it can take days to just design the murals.
After spending five years in a little store on Bay Street, Wolf Tracks relocated to Simpson street in 2014, looking for more space to accommodate their growing business. The store with its high ceilings is like an art gallery, with multiple murals gracing the walls, and art by other Indigenous artists as well.
The Wesleys support other Indigenous artists and artisans by selling their artwork, moccasins and other handmade items at Wolf Tracks. In the future, Ed hopes to expand Wolf Track’s offerings. “I’m always looking for something handmade, made in Canada, something different that people would want to come and buy,” he says.