After a 15-year entrepreneurial journey that has literally seen Tania Olson experience blood, sweat and tears, she is stepping into the next phase of her life.
On Oct. 15, Olson will close Coconut Joe’s in West Kelowna in order to pursue a few other avenues that have recently opened up in her life.
“I’ve got lots on the go right now,” said Olson as she got a few words in between helping customers.
“I’m doing a cookbook with a couple girls, I’m starting a fashion coordinating event planning business, I’m doing my own (writing) and I’m writing Codie Prevost’s biography.”
The Prevost biography, although listed last, is one of the projects that Olson is most excited about.
Olson first met Codie Prevost, an up-and-coming Canadian country music star, when she was president of the local chamber of commerce in High Level, Alta.
Three years later, after moving to the Okanagan, she got tickets to Prevost’s show. She got the opportunity to chat with him and insisted that he let her dress him for an upcoming event.
Prevost agreed and eventually wore clothes that Olson selected in a photo shoot. A month later, Prevost was scheduled to make a music video. He asked Olson to help him with his wardrobe.
“Me, dressing a country music video star in a video? Of course I said yes,” said Olson.
Olson and Prevost’s friendship has continued to grow since then, which is why Prevost came to Olson when he discovered her knack for writing.
Olson has written as a “secret hobby” for the past 20 years. Recently, she entered an online competition and was excited to learn that she earned an Editor’s Choice award for her poem, The Distance.
The favourable outcome has inspired Olson to continue gliding the pen on paper after Coconut Joe’s closes its doors.
“My business has been my life and I think that’s what brought out my path that I’ve walked (through writing). I’ve raised my kids by myself. We’ve gone through lots,” said Olson.
“It’s been a journey for me, and I think that’s where a lot of my writing came from. It’s just been like journaling, getting my emotions on paper and helping me heal and keep going.”
The journey has taken her a long way.
As a single mother in the northern Alberta town of Zama City (population 225), Olson spawned her home-based business, Coconut Joe’s. Olson had no shortage of challenges to deal with and ended up changing her business location six times.
She fought through debt, relationship problems and family deaths to eventually reach her goal of living and working in the Okanagan.
“My dream for 20 years was to live here; my store got me here. Now other opportunities are coming that look more positive than me trying to stick in the retail game here with the economy.”