Tanya Donahue is an Elite Plus member based out of Kelowna, BC, and is the Founder and CEO of Mango + Moose, a socially conscious fashion and lifestyle brand. Tanya works with Artisans in developing nations to curate and design jewellery, accessories, home and baby goods. The company slogan “where global meets local” embodies the nature of Mango + Moose. Located in Canada, they provide a marketplace for goods not only made in Canada but also in developing nations such as Haiti, Guatemala, India, Nepal, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, and East Asia. We are thrilled to share Tanya’s Success Story!
What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
Mango + Moose is a company born from the desire to see all people thrive. We believe that partnering to provide dignified jobs is an effective way to move families into freedom and stability, and empower women through opportunity. My family was living in Haiti, where I own Ti Kokoye, a cafe/boutique/spa. Through Ti Kokoye, I was working with Artisans to supply our boutique with wares for travellers. I was able to see the direct impact of job creation and how significant it is to changing peoples lives and keeping families together. When we returned to Canada I knew we needed to continue our work, and Mango + Moose seemed like the perfect way forward.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My Children! I always want to be a visionary parent for my kids and I recognize the greatest way I can do this is by living my own dreams out before them. It was Mother’s Day and I was away from my family in Haiti working with our Artisan partners to develop a line for our first Mango + Moose collection. I woke up to a message in my inbox from my fourteen-year-old daughter, Ellie. She had made a list of her top ten reasons of why I am amazing – cute, right?
Here are four that were on the list:
1. You started a whole business in Haiti (pretty impossible).
2. You are about to start a whole new business, Mango + Moose.
3. These businesses started as dreams in your head and you made them a reality.
4. You have given so many people jobs and are an inspiration.
You are such a strong person and I am proud of your many accomplishments. I love you mom.
Being an entrepreneur is seldom ever easy but knowing that it inspires my children to dream big and go after what they want makes it all worthwhile!
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Without a doubt – the people – the impact! My work is directly tied to the lives of others. I LOVE when one of our partners walks me through their newly built home, or passes over their new little one for me to cuddle, and I know they were safely brought into this world in a hospital with medical care. I get celebratory messages about kids enrolled in school because our August orders provided the funds for uniforms and school fees. I get photos of cheering teams as they expand and hire others. Recently I sat with Artisan partners in Guatemala and heard how our orders were changing their lives and the lives of their children. What could be more rewarding? I am not sure.
What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
My parents are both entrepreneurs at heart and growing up I watched and learned as they had multiple businesses and were always creative and innovative people. My husband, Scott is also an entrepreneur and has taught me a great deal about and being diligent and persistent. As a visionary I tend to want to move to the next thing very quickly but watching throughout our 23 years together I have seen Scott put the time in to be successful, he is always willing to do whatever it takes and is one of the most humble people I have ever met. The daily grind can be exhausting but learning from him to put one foot in front of the other and just focus on what needs to be done each day is an invaluable practice that keeps me sane.
What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
The Golden rule, Matthew 7:12, In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
I know it is old school but it holds the same power of truth today as it always has and this is what I believe it is to be truly Human. My heart is to see everyone have the opportunity to live lives of freedom and dignity, this is what initiated the start of Mango + Moose and remains my why and how as I persist each day.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
We follow fair trade practices ensuring that fair living wages are paid, and safe working environments are maintained. Our partnerships offer women freedom from the red-light district, rehabilitation for former child soldiers as well as schooling, job training and other holistic programs. Through a team of Global Advocates in Canada we have created a marketplace known as Bazaars for friends and family to shop beautiful, unique jewellery, accessories, home and baby goods. This provides jobs for people here in Canada and a way for all of us from Artisans, Global Advocates and consumers to work collectively for change. I feel fortunate to be able to blend my heart for global consciousness with business and artistic development to ensure sustainable job creation within the fashion/lifestyle industry at home and around our globe.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
Brand awareness is still very key for Mango + Moose. Getting the word out about our company, and having people who want to see ethical fashion become a way of life join us. The more of us who can connect together in this mission, the greater the impact we will have. We are engaging many innovative ideas for expansion this year, including helping young people to learn more about their purchasing power through our fundraising platform. If we can change the mindset early on, we have a greater chance of it becoming a reality for the next generation.
Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Be You! Always Be You! We tend to think that we should be a certain way to do a certain job or hold specific accreditations or skillsets, but nothing beats heart! Skills help, and hiring the right people for areas where you are lacking in knowledge is just good business sense. However, as the owner of your business YOU are the visionary. YOU are the one who will need to strategize to see your mission through. Determine what that mission is, strategize the best way to get there; this can be a great team building effort as well. Effectively communicate with your team and try as much as possible to keep working ON your business and not get overwhelmed with working too much IN your business. You must have the energy to lead. And one more tip – do not compare your start to someone else’s middle or end game! It is easy to forget every business started somewhere.
You bet! Shop Mango + Moose today!!! We have Purchasing Power so let’s use it for good! Every Purchase supports families here in Canada and across the globe, together we can create a brighter future!