Adrianna Stange, Townships and Tales, Vernon
Adrianna Stange is creating ripples of kindness across the province with her business Townships and Tales, a seasonal, curated subscription box that supports entrepreneurs, artisans, and artists in small towns throughout British Columbia.
Adrianna runs the business out of her home in Vernon and all of their suppliers live in towns that have populations under 45K people. They ship their boxes 4x a year, and the products they include reflect the values of the towns they come from, so the variety changes each season.
With each purchase, Adrianna and her husband commit to performing one intentional act of kindness in their community. In the first few weeks since their launch, they have organized a garbage pick up event, completed yardwork for a senior, and done housework for a woman battling cancer.
Their goal is to create a ripple of people paying it forward to foster a stronger sense of community.
Adrianna started her business during the COVID-19 Pandemic after losing her job. Even with a Bachelors in business, she found the learning curve quite steep. Joining the Peer Mentoring program from Women’s Enterprise Centre in the Fall of 2020 was a game-changer for her and her business.
Adrianna is grateful for the community of women entrepreneurs in the WEC mentorship program. She learned from each one and several have even become customers. With the support from her mentorship group, she launched pre-sales for their first subscription box in April 2021, selling more than 50% of them within the first week.
Townships and Tales is well on its way to becoming the go-to place for Canadian to buy hand-made products from local makers while making the province a kinder place.
What inspired you to join the mentoring program?
My background is human resources and although I have always wanted my own business, I didn’t have a community of people who could support and guide me as I took my first steps down this path. I reached out to an advisor at WEC to find out what support they offered and was ultimately connected with a local mentorship group of amazing women.
What’s the biggest lesson(s) you learned from your mentor?
To be honest, I was pretty nervous about approaching suppliers to be included in our first subscription box. My mentor had experience in retail and she helped by sharing what questions suppliers would have for me, what I should be asking of them, and how this type of relationship should be approached.
This gave me a big boost of confidence when making those first calls. In short, she showed me what normal looked like for my industry and gave me ideas for how I would make my cold call sales pitch.
What personal growth have you experienced as an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is more a way of life than a career. I’ve grown so much as a person and as a professional.
My business is based on my personal values and I’ve never felt more vulnerable having the business launch and watch others react to what I’ve created and form opinions of the idea. I’ve gained confidence, friendships, a new community, and a renewed purpose.
It’s extremely empowering and fulfilling knowing that I can create something out of nothing and have it benefit other people.
What struggles or barriers have you encountered as you’ve grown your business?
I struggled to learn everything I could so I could make informed decisions, it was scary to not know what I didn’t know. What helped me was doing thorough research and asking questions.
Over the 9 months it took to launch, I had countless conversations with lawyers, accountants, other entrepreneurs, insurance brokers, suppliers, etc. It was humbling to ask for help and be honest with my level of knowledge, but when others heard about what I wanted to accomplish, they offered advice, support, pep talks, or pointed me in the right direction.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We are working hard to meet suppliers from small towns across the province and in five years we would like to be the first place someone goes to when wanting to order local BC products online, whether it’s in a subscription box or through our e-commerce store.
Adapting to change is something every business should do. We are constantly asking our customers, suppliers and vendors for feedback and where we end up in 5 years will largely depend on what our customers have a need for.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?
My advice for others wanting to start a business is to be clear on why you’re doing it. There are days when it stops being fun and you hit roadblock after roadblock. If you’re focused on what you want to achieve, or who you want to help, then it will help motivate you on the tough days.
My other tip is just to start somewhere. A little bit of progress every day adds up over time and it’s easy to feel paralyzed by fear, which can prevent you from ever getting started. Ask the dumb questions, be honest with others, and use the information you have to make the best decision you can at that time.
Where to Learn More About Townships and Tales