Updated: Oct 18
Let's celebrate Small Business Week (Oct 15th - 21st), a time when we come together to celebrate and recognize the remarkable contributions of small businesses in our Fanshawe community and the local economy.
In this space, learn a little bit more about Teresa Rangel, founder of Mezquite Leather. She is an Alumni from the Fanshawe College Photography Program, and with over a decade of experience as an audiovisual producer and photographer, she proudly holds the creation of her leather products line based on her passion, photography.
Known for her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, she joined the LeapIN Accelerator program in Summer 2023, and now will share a little bit about her experience and her entrepreneurial journey.
MEZQUITE LEATHER - Teresa Ranger
Hi, my name is Teresa. My business is Mezquite Leather and I am from the program of Photography at Fanshawe College.
1. What sparked the idea to start your own business?
I thought about my business because I want the backpack for my camera because I'm a photographer, so I didn't find anything that I really like. So, in that moment I thought like, okay I could do this and that's when I started to create my own business.
2. When did you identify the opportunity?
I was looking for backpacks for photographers and I didn't find anything that I really liked, so in that moment I started to figure out, what if I designed this? So, usually all the backpacks that you can find outside there are like. Old style and I really didn't like it, so that's when I started like thinking in a new fresh design for photographers.
3. How many hours per day and per week did you work during the first stage?
At the beginning I started to expand like all day because I was thinking how like different designs, the quality, the textures that I want for my product and how I'm going to sell, how I'm going to create this, how I'm going to match this with my profession. So, I usually spent about 12 hours per day at the beginning, or sometimes I went to the factory and see if I like the way it was at that moment, so it was a long day.
4. How did you find out about LEAP Junction? How have they supported you in your business development?
I know about the program of LEAP Junction because I had a class, Marketing Class, my teacher was amazing. He always was pushing out like "we have a program that can help you with your business." So, I came and I saw David and Nick, and I loved the way they talked to me, so then I decided to start this idea and start with them. They helped me from scratch because I'm from Mexico, so I didn't have any idea at that moment on how to start a business here in Canada. At the beginning we had online calls, but then I started the LEAP Junction Program, and it was amazing; the connections, the networking, the people, my classmates, everything they showed me. I loved it because really, really, I didn't know anything, like zero. So, I loved the program.
5. What does work/life balance look like to you?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. You have to work with yourself a lot because you have to. I am a mom too, I know I look like "old", but I'm taking care of my teenagers, my husband, my house, my own business and I try to be healthy. So, it's hard, but you can do it.
I know that sometimes we think a lot about everything, but right now my life is like a messy thing, but I know that is part of it, and yes, that it's not easy, but I know that. I’m always trying to inspire all that people that I saw like oh, he's like this guy, but usually with women. So I always try to inspire about women and if they can do it, I can do it.
6. Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over?
Something that I did bad at the beginning was that I did the things that I like, not what the clients wanted. So, probably right now I’ll be changing 100% of my business because I noticed that I'm the only one who was looking for a backpack for photographers, but I don't have a brand and I don't have a name, so I have to.
I did a research about my product at the middle of LEAP Junction, but at the middle of LEAP Junction I’ve already had my products. So if I can do it again, it's just wait to see the results, to see what the people in the interviews that I did, they told me what I have to do at that moment before, so probably I would love to do that again.
7. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business today?
My advice as an entrepreneur, is “Believe in yourself.” I know that everybody is going to tell you that, but something that nobody tells us is like the mind and the body are always thinking and you are what you're thinking. I'm going to put like a fast example, think that you're eating a lemon, can you feel in this moment the lemon in your mouth? Just feel and think, close your eyes and enjoy the lemon. Now open your eyes, is the lemon in front of you? Are you eating the lemon? No, but everything comes from the taste that you're doing now. So that way is like, trust in yourself, then put an action to the plan and just follow and find the structure for your business; and right now, for example, I'm having huge trouble with my product, but that is not going to stop me because I already started with this idea. And I'm an immigrant, so I'm a struggling with all of thing but I know that I can do it. So, you just have to follow another strategy, just create your strategy and focus on that and never, never stop believing in yourself. Trust me, just remember that example of the lemon and then you're going to say like, yes, it's true, we are what we're thinking, and we can do it. So, think positive and I know that there's annoying stuff happening around, but don't get like all that get confused. Just focusing yourself in and in your world, no matter what.