Pecan Prosperity: How Anthony Wingham Built A Beautiful Business
Success is a hard nut to crack, but Anthony Wingham has found success with another nut… pecans from Mexico. He started his life as an entrepreneur setting tile with his brothers and now he’s setting the stage for new market opportunities for his father in law’s crops with his waterless beauty brand, Nuez Acres. While beauty is just skin deep, his drive for success runs much deeper, and it all started in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he was born, a proud member of the Métis Nation.
His mother later moved to raise their family on Vancouver Island and he’s since moved to Langley, BC. He’s been working since he was 10 years old, delivering newspapers, umpiring for baseball games, later pumping gas and working in a grocery store in Lake Cowichan. His first company in construction and he went on to start two new companies, Nuez Acres and Métis Print.
“Looking back now, working in restaurants, at gas stations, all those skills have really built me up and prepared me for being able to run my own business now,” he reflects. His business helps him provide for his immediate family, and it came from wanting to help his extended family too. When Wingham learned how the price of his father in law’s pecan crops in Mexico had been impacted by the trade war between the US and China, he saw they had to pivot from pecans as baking ingredients.
Thinking about how they contain the minerals and vitamins used by the beauty industry, Wingham brought a couple kilograms of pecans up to process back home in Langley. They made it into oil, creating products that allow them to pay a more fair price to pecan farmers like his father in law. It has since progressed to being part of a mission to address water waste in the beauty industry. He’s learned a lot along the way, in and out of the classroom.
Coming from a single parent household without available money and resources, going to university wasn’t in the cards right away. A project management course through BCIT focused on the construction industry was all the higher education he had under his (tool) belt. That would change in a big way after the onset of the pandemic when online education became more common.
Wingham first took a digital marketing course through Jelly Marketing. He continued onto a Business Management program through the Sauder Business School at UBC and then the I-Cedar program at UVIC. He’s since started taking project management and administrative training through Royal Roads University.
“In the last three or four years, I’ve really bumped up my education and taking those opportunities have really had an impact on not only my business, but obviously I’m going to be able to raise my children with this information, and then giving it back to the Métis nation, speaking on some of the youth panels and stuff like that,” he shares. He credits online learning with making these educational leaps possible.
“If you have access to the internet and you have a cell phone, you have access to the world at the touch of your fingertips."
His advice for Indigenous students taking online courses or pursuing education online is to take advantage of the learning opportunities, even if you’re not very familiar with the topics, engaging with the teacher and other students in chat. He suggests preparing your family for the workload you will have from day to day and also just being very present in team projects and activities.
Finding financing for his business venture was a struggle. He worked hard to make the money he needed, sacrificing some social and recreational opportunities. Wingham had to learn to be consistent in overcoming obstacles in business, relying on his entrepreneurial mindset to figure things out and keep moving forward. He’s had to learn from mistakes to avoid repeating them and built on his experiences to keep improving.
“We're competing against companies with multimillion dollar budgets, and that's something that we don't have access to,” he confides. He uses a consistent message online to offset that challenge, participates in pitch competitions and takes advantage of opportunities to be visible. Recently elected to the board of BC Indigenous Housing, he was also brought into the EY entrepreneurial program and was provided a week-long program at an Ivy League school in the US through the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
"Just being present, showing up and being consistent has really helped me get to these levels of achievement that I never thought possible."
If he could give a message with his younger self it would be, “Reflect on what you are doing as an individual. Focus on your mental health. If you keep pushing it aside, eventually it's going to catch up to you.” He would also want him to know he's loved, on the right path and can achieve anything if he puts his mind to it.
To balance his mental health and wellbeing, he focuses on family, going for walks and spending time outdoors. He loves to travel to new places. Being in the city gives him a perspective of how big the world really is, amidst the hustle and bustle. Strong boundaries are also important to keep him from getting overwhelmed.
He draws inspiration from his Métis ancestry, their sacrifices and the opportunities he has available today. "It inspires me so much to be able to really step into that culture and share not only the Métis history, but also that we are successful people… I really feel like what I'm doing now is more than just selling skincare for money. It's really showing people that are going to come after me that you can really do anything you want," he beams.
While Nuez Acres started small, they have recently launched into Walmart, into the Vancouver International Airport, and they’ve done trade missions to Arizona. “It's just really inspiring that I'm able to pick up the mantle, or I guess the sash, from past generations and keep us moving forward and really respect all the nations,” he concludes.
Success is a hard nut to crack, but Anthony Wingham found a way to do it with pecans. From setting tile with his brothers to setting the stage for new market opportunities for his father in law’s crops, his drive for success runs deeper than beauty. A proud member of the Métis Nation, he’s sharing his culture and opportunities for the beauty industry to address water waste, one bottle of pecan oil at a time.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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