Valerie Chelangat | Manitoba, Canada | Dig Deeper


Proprietor of Tusome Books | Entrepreneur | Coach | Speaker


I wish I could say that it had always been my dream to run a bookstore. It never once occurred to me to start a bookstore. From as far back as I can remember I wanted to write. As a little girl I made up poems and short stories. When I was in high school I started thinking about the possibility of becoming a journalist but somewhere between considering it and applying for university I found myself in business school instead. The reasoning at the time was that I would make more money with a business degree than as a journalist. It wasn’t the worst decision as I also wanted to be a business owner at some point. I however did not know how to take the theoretical knowledge and apply it to starting a business-or maybe it was fear. Either way I found a government job where I spent the next eight years of my life.

As Joan Didion famously admitted, I too stayed too long at the fair. Oprah Winfrey explained it best when she said that she always knew it was time to move on whenever she felt that there was nothing new to learn in a specific job. I was anxious for the unknown future that lay before me but on January 3rd, 2020 I walked away from my fulltime job to focus on the bookstore and to return to school. I figured if I didn’t do it then, I never would. I could not bear the thought of not even trying. Now I am a small business owner and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing student. Hopefully someday I will add ‘author’ to my title.


What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

Capital and a lack of connections. I learned to be content with the little that I could afford at any point and I found creative solutions that required little or no money at all. For example I built my own website. I had a little experience from building blogs and restructuring a website for a non-profit but I had not built a website of such magnitude before. It turned out to be a great experience and I continue to learn more and to develop it.


Because I didn’t really know people in the industry prior to launching my business I make a point of reaching out and asking to connect with people all the time. I’ve come to learn that most people are open to meeting and forming new relationships.


What books are you currently reading?

I’m always reading 2 or more books at any given time. Currently I’m reading “The Queen of Water” by Laura Resau & Maria Virginia Farinango for Tusome Books Book club. I’m also re-reading “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy and I’m listening to Brené Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart”.


What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

When you have an idea that you’d like to explore don’t stop at finding all the problems with it or all the reasons why things could go wrong. Also explore the things that could work. Dig deeper, really think about it. I’ve met many people who plan on “someday” doing something with an idea they have but they never actually execute. It’s easy to get discouraged and leave it alone. Yet it’s so rewarding to take a stab at it. It might not work in the end but even the experience of it is worth it. There’s so much you can learn and so much growth that comes from taking it past just a dream or a wish.


Social Media Handles:

Tusome Books - an online bookstore representing marginalized voices.

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