How I Made It

Emily Bland, Social Entrepreneur

Emily Bland is a recent university graduate from St. John's and "SeedEO" of SucSeed, a social enterprise that fights food insecurity. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it.

Emily Bland wears blue long sleeve shirt

Emily Bland; @sucseedcanada

How do you describe your job to your family?

I’m a social entrepreneur—I’m trying to prove to the world that business doesn’t have to be about money, it can be about creating a better world.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to Memorial University of Newfoundland for commerce and accounting.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

As soon as I graduated, my first job was SeedEO of SucSeed [a social enterprise that fights food insecurity by helping people grow their own food]. In other words, I jumped straight into entrepreneurship. There was this gravitational pull; I knew in my heart that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done solely for money?

I pumped gas in a princess dress, full crown and sash to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation!

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

My big break was when the SheEO Activator network voted me as a top-7 SheEO venture and decided to invest in SucSeed. This inspirational network of women decided that out of hundreds of applications that they believed in me and SucSeed.

To land it we had to complete an application, interview and post a video about SucSeed.

What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

When I lost my grandfather. Growing up I was Poppy’s little girl, and one of my biggest motivators was wanting to make him proud and continue on his legacy. He immigrated to Newfoundland from England with a couple of dollars in his pocket and he and my grandmother turned that into three successful businesses: an egg farm, a chain of vet clinics and an organic berries and meat company. He also had a passion to change the world. When he passed away, I had a 40-year plan, business school then law school and then starting a law firm in Newfoundland. But losing him made me question everything and that is when my career did a 180. It gave me the courage to not do what the world thought was the best path for me and instead do what my heart felt the right path was.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

You need to be in a core city center to start a business or it will not work.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

Building connections with other female agriculturists and attracting young women to join the agriculture sector.

I think we need more mentorship programs that connect current women in the field, women joining the industry and young women in junior high and high school.

Looking to the future, what: excites you the most about your career?

Every day I get to make a difference in the lives of the people we work with. I am a huge believer in people first, whether it’s team members, clients or beneficiaries. When I go to bed each night, that feeling of knowing that someone’s life was improved by SucSeed that day is what makes my heart sing.

What worries you the most about your career?

Knowing that globally we need 70% more food by 2050, but yet not many people seem to be concerned about the challenge in food production we are about to face. No super farm is going to magically pop up and feed us all. Consumers need to make smart decisions and they need to be empowered to produce their own food.

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