This is a really long winded version of what that means. There's also instructions on where to read if you want the short version.
Much like this one, most of my stories tend to start much earlier than may actually be needed. "Not every story needs to start with when you were five years old." an old friend said to me once. That was a decade ago, and it's still true. I can't help it. I want to give you the background, make sure you don't have questions. Which is crazy because I would have a dozen questions for you anyway, if it was you telling the story.
Not into long versions? Scroll to the last paragraph.
I have a lot of questions. This (we'll call it a skill) eventually led me to a career in sales, a never ceasing curiosity, the internet, and to always be asking where things come from. In my early twenties I bought anything and everything that would fit on my credit card. When I finally figured out that wasn't going to be a very good life plan, I stopped spending, drastically cut my trips to the mall, and started wondering where all this stuff came from. Ever since, my curiosity has been guiding most of my spending and sourcing.
Most important became food and clothing, because I didn't really need any more trinkets, but I still needed to eat and wear pants.
So I eventually became, like any good Virgo, obsessed with the cause, the lists, the information and the questions. I started travelling, and spending on experiences instead of things. On a Mexican beach I read Let My People Go Surfing, by Patagonia's Founder Yvon Chouinard, and Patagonia became my favourite company. I came home and started working for Level Ground Trading, learning about fair trade practises, organic agriculture, and mission-driven companies.
Now I'm finding ways to write about it and share the exciting (to me) things I find, in a way that people actually want to hear. Seriously no one wants to hear a lecture on the benefits of kale. I've built an online audience of over 6,000 people across multiple platforms, and I'm pretty sure they are mostly here for the food and drink. Although the nephew photos are pretty cute too.
In the fall of 2012, while I was working for Salt Spring Coffee — managing $1.1M in annual sales — I moved from North Vancouver to Victoria. It was the best and most important decision I made as an adult. The opportunity came at just the right time in my life to start working towards daydreams of Entrepreneurship, Writing, and finding one of those so called passion things we're always hearing about.
I wore Birkenstocks and gumboots, in some sort of island resident rite of passage.
Then I met him. You know, him. The guy. The one that makes you go "Ooohhh. So that's what grown ups do and this is what love is." In a coffee shop, sitting at the bar, reading a paper, and drinking a coffee. Like the olden days. Insert summer of love and wonder here.
That fall, I traded my loft for his yard, and built a cellar.
In the six years since, I've learned more about love, communication, family and partnership than in any other period of my life. I planted things in the garden. Experienced the joy of becoming a family (Richard has two awesome kids), and started cooking and baking up a storm. Because apparently popcorn and rosé isn't an ideal dinner for everyone. Who knew. I took time off. Work did not define me. Curiosities a decade on lists came alive. New habits formed. I invested in my future. Then he put a manual camera in my hands.
He took me to Paris and found out that no, I will not eat across the street from tourist attractions when there are fantastic pâtisseries two trains and a fifteen minute walk away. Hello.
My life is filled with love and though it really does seem like a dream most days, it isn't without stress, and the occasional bad airport meal (I fully embrace my lame first world problem here). I talk about the hard stuff online too, but I don't complain constantly because I know that's not going to help, and you have your own shit, why would you want to hear all of mine too? My online presence isn't a highlight reel, it's how I look at life. My little nephews ask so many questions and see things so enthusiastically that I occasionally burst out laughing while they talk to me and say "Oh man, that must be what it's like to live with me." Rich laughs, and nods his head.
In 2015 I took the leap to Entrepreneurship.
Wine, beer and other craft beverages seemed like the next place to explore after coffee. I'd already discovered BC wine through Twitter and Sandra Oldfield, a Founder of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, and now I could find a way to get more involved. I started an agency representing premium craft producers to the trade, selling to retailers, restaurants, pubs and other establishments that care about quality.
I started writing about food and drink for Victoria’s Monday Magazine, in my monthly column Side Dish, and built this website to share food and travel recommendations, recipes, photos and other random things.
In June 2017, we set off for some grand adventures.
We rented our home and my partner started a six month leave of absence from his work at BC Ambulance Service. We set off to cycle tour in Europe for almost three months and just over 1,500KM through England, France and Belgium. We followed that with two months and 11,000KM on road trip, hiking in the Southwest US. After some house-sitting, guest room crashing, and a summer of sailing, we moved back into our home in the late summer of 2018. Somewhere along the way I stopped eating most animal products — except fish — and found myself pretty damn strong and almost 35lbs. lighter for my efforts.
Between sunrise photos, aeropress coffees, adventure-filled days and starry nights, I found time to read again, and began the exploration into what was next for me in my business (and life). We have long term sailing plans, and 2019 is looking adventure filled and promising. I’m building creative projects, writing, launching a new website, and working to use my 17 years of sales experience to help other Entrepreneurs.
I'm Chantal Ireland, I have a lot of questions, I care about how and where things are grown, made and built. I'm an Entrepreneur and Writer. I'm madly in love, my life is rad between the hard shit, and I'm not known for my short stories.