Tiny Taiga Owner Blake Shanley talks business, success and the journey she took to get there.
By Lydia Gregovic, Photos courtesy of Blake Shanley
Perched comfortably at her desk, entrepreneur Blake Shanley is surrounded by a forest of bright crystals and resplendent greenery. It’s a stark contrast to the world outside her door—a modern East Austin business park—but then again, Shanley is anything but a typical businesswoman. As the owner of Tiny Taiga, an independent “choose-your-own-adventure shop of heal goods and soul treats,” Shanley has dedicated her life to sharing a holistic approach to health and wellness with the Austin community.
“This is my lifestyle,” Shanley says. “This is how I live, how I keep myself healthy and happy. … I wanted to start sharing that with people, and I wanted to create a space that I could invite the larger community into, for a variety of reasons.”
For Shanley, the journey toward uncovering the secret to a joyful life began in high school, when she first started exploring various spiritual practices and nutritional systems. Since then, she’s amassed an extensive toolkit of practices and products to soothe mind and body alike, but her travels are far from complete.
“I’m always evolving, just like Tiny Taiga is always evolving,” Shanley explains. “I study human nature, I study humanity, I study all the different journeys people are on at the same time. And I read at least a book a week. I travel a lot, and more than that, I spend a lot of quiet time by myself, listening to my own intuition and digging deep into myself, and I find a lot of truths in my time in nature.”
In fact, the entrepreneur’s constantly changing creative outlook is exactly what drove her to pursue the independent but sometimes challenging path of becoming a small-business owner. Repulsed by the notion of having to take orders from someone else, Shanley found her freedom in pursuing her passion project.
“Everything that goes on in [Tiny Taiga] is of my own, of my choosing and my design and of my will and whim and desire,” Shanley says. “I created a space that I want to be in, and that I feel healthy in. This space is how I feel and take care of myself. Everything in here, I use and I put in here for a reason.”
Monetary success is a plus, she admits, but that’s not why she went into business. Rather, Shanley views Tiny Taiga as a way to interact with the world around her, and to share the many lessons she’s learned during the course of her life with others.
“The intent of the business was to inspire, impact and educate people,” she says.
And whether her mission is accomplished through a bar of raw chocolate or a bottle of essential oils, Shanley’s focus remains on catering to each customer’s individual needs. Her personal approach can be seen in her latest venture, her aMuse program, through which she provides individually tailored health-and-wellness formulas based on one-on-one consultations with clients.
Though her business model is based almost entirely on helping others, Shanley’s advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs is simple: Be true to yourself.
“I think that so many people ask way too many questions of themselves and of others before they start a project, and I advise against that,” Shanley says. “What I believe about business is that there are a million ways to do it, and if you trust your own desires and intuition, you can make anything happen…even if it goes against, you know, everything anyone ever told you about how to run a business.”
With a flourishing store and hopes to expand in the future, Shanley recognizes her own advice seems to have resulted in one success story already. Though as Tiny Taiga’s high-spirited owner sees it, the finish line isn’t the goal. She much prefers to take the scenic route.