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A lesson in small-scale entrepreneurship

Tienna Schade is selling custom dog tags through an Etsy shop, with some of the proceeds going to Humane Canada. [Damon MacLean]

In recent years Etsy has become an excellent tool for those with an entrepreneurial bent, allowing them to take a jaunt into the creative market. For one Breslau resident, the site has allowed her to save money for school while supporting an animal welfare charity.

Tienna Schade found herself in a pinch earlier this year when she decided to stay home from work to reduce her exposure to the coronavirus as a way to protect her mother’s health. Looking for a way to generate an income, she turned to Etsy.

“I started to get interested in making money again, because I stopped working because of the pandemic – my mom is high risk.” 

Schade then read about a way that she could make some additional cash while staying at home. “I just ended up stumbling across an article that talked about making money on Etsy, and ever since then I was interested.”

The idea to create dog tags came from something the avid reader had read at some point.

“A few years ago, I read an article that said people are more likely to spend money on their pets than themselves, or something like that, so I’ve kind of based it off of that,” she said of the early impetus for the venture.

Schade decided rather than simply make money for herself, she would choose to support Humane Canada, donating some proceeds from each sale to the nationwide charity representing humane societies, SPCAs and animal rescue organizations.

“I always just want to try to give back – I am very big on giving back to the community. I have over 250 volunteer hours for my high school diploma, you only need 40. I like volunteering.

“It’s not a lot what I’m giving back, it’s $1 per tag, but I am going to university in the fall, and obviously, university is pretty expensive. So hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to give back more. But for now, it’s just $1.”

Creating the tags involves purchasing the brass circle plates from another Etsy seller, adding a ring and metal stamp for the name and print, and then uploading to the TS Tag Co. shop.

Schade is currently a student at Grand River Collegiate, where she enjoys studying the sciences, which helped her select the health field as her area of postsecondary study. “Something in the medical field. I’m not exactly sure what I want to be in the future, but along the lines of like an occupational therapist, immunologist or something like that,” she said.

She’s also always had an entrepreneurial spirit, she notes in her Etsy profile.

“I remember in Grade 9, I was [talking] with my guidance counsellor, because I couldn’t fit all the science courses I needed to go to university. We also had an entrepreneur course at our high school, so I was so torn: I wanted to do the entrepreneur, but I needed all the sciences and math to get into the university program. I ended up going with all the sciences and math, obviously. But yeah, definitely, I will be looking to continue doing business; I actually have a couple more ideas in mind, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Currently, Schade is happy with the attention her Etsy store has gotten.

“They’ve been really good, actually, since I’ve posted on Facebook – it started in the Breslau group, and then from there, just word of mouth. I also posted on marketplace and I got one sale. And then that lady shared to her neighborhood group and I got a lot of sales from that. Mostly word of mouth is what I’m relying on right now.”

Since launching her own venture, Schade has learned the importance of supporting local businesses, and the satisfaction of seeing others do the same.

“Support a small business. You’re supporting a person behind it, not just a large corporation. I’m genuinely so happy when I get a sale,” she said with a smile.

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