Leaving her job as a senior compliance and business solutions analyst with Alberta Electric was not easy for Beyond Scarf owner Vinda Tanuhadi. Not only had she worked with the company for seven years out of a 15-year career in her field, had a good salary, benefits, and stability, she also loved going to work.
“If I hated my job it would be easy to make a decision, but I loved it,” she says. “But at the end of the day I thought, if I don’t try this then I will have the same questions when I am 65 — what if? You have to try and just do it.”
And try and do it she did. In 2013, Tanuhadi traded her secure position with Alberta Electric for the life of an entrepreneur. Her business? Creating Calgary’s only shop devoted to selling scarves.
“First, because I love scarves — scarves are very light, easy to wear, and versatile,” Tanuhadi says. “And I found in Calgary, in Canada, for me it was hard to find a scarf that is not so boring. A scarf that is interesting, but also has a nice quality and is comfortable to wear.”
Seeing a problem ahead of her — the lack of distinct, high-quality scarves — Tanuhadi set to finding a solution. And if there is one thing Tanuhadi knows how to do, it is finding solutions.
“If no one starts this business then who else would do it?” She says, adding that she contemplated opening up her business — which began as an online shop before opening its first brick-and-mortar shop last November — for two years.
For Tanuhadi, her passion for creating her business was in the process. “Retail utilizes different skills then I was doing at my old job. But at the same time, there is a process where you start from an idea and turn that idea into something,” she says. “It is not just about the retail or the fashion, it is more than that.”
Tanuhadi adds that there have been many learning curves on the path to creating her business. The first challenge was convincing people about her business idea. “Everything is a challenge, depending on how you slice it. Especially this scarf business, it is a very niche market and then even if you go talk to people they say, what you are selling scarfs? How are you going to make a living?” she says.
After attending trade shows, connecting with designers, launching her website and celebrating her store opening in 2017, Tanuhadi says the next challenge will be financing. “If I want to bring this to the next level, the financing very important. You have to have the capital to cover marketing and everything during the non-revenue phase,” she says, adding that she views this next step as she would a project — as part of the process.
In addition to financing, Tanuhadi is looking ahead to build a community around her store.
“There are a lot of customers who come and they really enjoy when we show them how to wear different scarves or tie it in different ways,” she says. “So the reason that we want to build a community is to share the passion for the product. The quality, the story and the process making.”
Take a look inside!
By Sarah Comber
Interested in shopping locally? Check out this business which is breaking down barriers through wearable art.