Louie Gong, M.Ed. (Nooksack) is a Coast Salish artist, community activist and entrepreneur. He founded the groundbreaking lifestyle brand Eighth Generation with just a sharpie and a pair of canvas shoes - and then used the resourcefulness and creativity taught to him by his humble upbringing to build it into the fastest growing Native-owned company in the United States or Canada. Now one of the most successful Native artists in history, Louie has earned national recognition for innovative business practices that will act as a blueprint for future generations of cultural artists. Read Complete Bio

Started at the Bottom

Louie was raised in a house with no running water by his Native Grandma (Squamish and Nooksack) and Chinese Grandpa. They moved from Ruskin, B.C. (Canada) to the Nooksack tribal community in Washington State in 1984.

The Shoe Guy

Louie is a self-taught artist who got his start by painting on canvas shoes, but he quickly expanded to a wide variety of mediums, from prints and skateboard decks to jewelry and home decor.

Art and Design

Louie's bold exploration of themes from his mixed heritage and popular culture led the self-taught artist to a vibrant brand of thought provoking work known for making strong social commentary with a wink and a smile. His artwork has been featured in media, museums and galleries around the world.

Blazing Ahead

In 2015, Eighth Generation became the first Native-owned company to offer wool blankets, intentionally disrupting a legacy industry that was built on cultural appropriation.  Through his work with Eighth Generation, Louie has been a leading advocate for Native artists and entrepreneurs, helping to establish a new era of economic opportunity and improved representation.

Inspired Natives Project

Louie's informal support for other artists evolved into the Inspired Natives Project, a structured system for supporting emerging arts entrepreneurs though actual business partnership. The tagline “Inspired Natives, not Native-inspired” - a dig at the use of “Native-inspired” by non-Native companies to skirt around truth in advertising laws - was derived from this project. Since 2013, Louie has created partnerships with over 40 Native artists.

Decolonizing Partnership Model

Louie has distilled 15 years of experience into five core principles that support, not exploit, cultural artists in business partnerships. In 2020, Starbucks became the first global corporation to engage with Eighth Generation under the Decolonizing Partnerhsip Model.

Changing the Game

Collectively, Louie’s efforts have re-directed tens of millions of dollars from non-Native corporations to indigenous artists and Native-owned businesses.

Giving Back

Louie is a philanthropist who has received national recognition for his frequent donations, grants, mentorship and fierce advocacy for Native representation and economic justice in business.

Legacy - So Far

As an artist who made it big while staying true to his values, Louie has created the blueprint for what he calls the “Native American Dream.”