November 6, 2023
Meet Erin - Founder of Tall Tree Bakery
As we reflect on the bravery and courage of veterans, we find inspiration in the career journeys they have taken beyond the uniform. This Veterans Week, Prince's Trust Canada is showcasing women-identifying veteran entrepreneurs and shining a light on their remarkable stories.
In this spotlight, we sat down with Erin Copeland, a Canadian Veteran who served in the Air Force for over 13 years and is the co-founder and owner of Tall Tree Bakery with her husband, Sean, in Squamish, British Columbia.
Hi, Erin! Thank you for taking the time to share your business journey with us! Could you start by telling us more about your business? What inspired you to start it and what is your mission?
“I was always interested in business. My partner was also a military officer, and he released from the military a few years before I did. He was an artillery officer and released to become a baker, because that was always his passion. So, when he did that, we talked about our future and decided that now was the right time to do our own thing. With his skills in baking, and my skills in logistics, we thought we could combine the two and create our own business.”
Can you share with us a bit about your military background and what led you to join the armed forces?
“I was fortunate enough when I was a teenager to get my private pilot’s license. From that young age, I was always interested in aviation, so I joined the Air Force after high school. I joined as a logistics officer. My goal initially was to become a pilot in the military, but I soon realized that the lifestyle didn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it would.”
Were there specific skills or lessons from your military experience that transferred well to your entrepreneurial journey? If so, what were they?
“As a logistics officer, I had my hands in many pots, like human resources, finance, logistics, etc. One of my main takeaways from my military experience was the human resource management side of things – managing and communicating with people, whether it be subordinates or people higher up. Also, the organizational skills – I’ve always been very organized since I was young, and the military kind of accentuated that.”
Was there a moment where you realized that your business would work out? If so, what was that moment?
"I don't think there was one specific moment. My husband and I embarked on this mission to create a business fully aware of the risks. We dedicated all our resources to this goal, risking our finances and lifestyle to invest 100% of ourselves into it."
Is there a memorable moment from your entrepreneurial journey that encapsulates the spirit of your mission?
"I’ve lived in Squamish for the past 9 years, which is a relatively small town, so the community is close-knit. Whenever we have the chance to engage with the community and bring everyone together, those are the moments when we realize what we've accomplished, and we take pride in it. Additionally, whenever I have the opportunity to collaborate with Prince's Trust Canada, speaking with fellow entrepreneurs, Veterans, and those transitioning into the world of entrepreneurship, I feel a sense of fulfillment in this journey."
Is there any message you’d like to give to future Veterans transitioning to civilian life that are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
“The huge takeaway for me, and probably the biggest opportunity I took, was the Prince’s Trust Canada Operation Entrepreneur boot camp that I was fortunate enough to take back in 2015 at the University of Regina.
It was such a pivotal experience for me to network with fellow transitioning military members, meeting experts, kind of solidifying the plan that I had come up with. I would say to take advantage of all the resources while you’re in it, because you might as well.”
How would you say that PTC has helped you in your entrepreneurial journey?
"I find the mentorship program to be amazing. I've learned a lot from being a mentor. It truly offers a different perspective on how I can help others and how they can help me."
To find Veteran-Owned businesses like Tall Tree Bakery, visit the BuyVeteran.ca directory. With over 600+ Veteran-owned businesses on the directory across Canada, it’s easier than ever to support a Veteran-owned small business.
Prince’s Trust Canada’s Veteran programming makes the transition from military service to entrepreneurship accessible by providing expert advice, resources and mentorship Veterans need to become successful business owners. To learn more, visit the Veterans & Military page on princestrust.ca.