Tanna's Botannas, also known as Tanna’s Snacks, has a little something for everyone. Handmade snacks ranging from salty to sweet to spicy with an added Mexican twist can accommodate any sweet tooth craving. This business operates through Instagram, where customers can message the account with their order and then meet at the shop owner's home to pick up the purchase.
What makes this local business unique is that it began and continues to operate through Instagram with 5,974 followers to date since posting her first customizable berry post on Jan. 25, 2020.
According to owner Tanna Cole, the founder of the company, the initial inspiration for opening a candy store came from “a deep love of the Mexican culture, yearly trips to Guadalajara, Mexico with her boyfriend and the Guadalajaran candy store Dulceria Cananea."
Tanna’s Botannas serves a wide array of sweets: custom-made cakes, caramel apples, customizable chocolate-covered strawberries and pretzels, wine boxes, breakable hearts, tamarindo-coated apples, rim dip for alcoholic beverages, spicy coated peach rings and gushers, rim dip-fruit roll up pickle coated with Tajin and many other items, according to the Tanna’s Botannas Instagram.
Price varies by item and can range anywhere from $5 for a one-half pound of spicy gummy candy to $70 dollars for a customizable wine box.
RELATED: Old Tucson: Closed but not forgotten
Cole notes that in order to provide the most optimal “color and taste” to her snacks, she continues to travel to Guadalajara every two to three weeks to stock up on supplies like Tajin chili powder or her popular mango gummies, she said.
Though Cole began her business venture by offering coveted staple chocolate strawberries, the business was able to really flourish and grow because of customers requesting and suggesting items they would like to see on the menu, as well as how open-minded she has been in introducing new items to the menu.
The turn to entrepreneurship came naturally for Cole because she “has been selling for half of her life.” When she was younger, she would sell snow cones, at yard sales and tickets to neighborhood movie nights.
While the road to success has not always been easy, the operation of Tanna’s Botannas remains a one-woman operation.
“What people don't understand is that I do everything myself, from waking up at 5:30 a.m. to working until 1 a.m. baking cakes," Cole said. "I just went to Walmart today and spent $700 on restocking stuff. I have to close certain days when I could be taking orders, but that's probably the biggest thing thus far because I have to do absolutely everything [in addition to] shipping out candy. There are definitely times that I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, this is overwhelming,' but I'm also super grateful that it gets to work."
Though command central started at her parents' home, Cole now has her own house where she operates. Anita Cole, Tanna's mother, acknowledges how much effort her daughter put into making Tanna’s Botannas what it is today.
"She literally started this herself. Like, I gave her no money," Anita Cole said. "The only thing I was able to help her with was by [letting her use] my home where she kind of ran things out of there. But other than that, she pretty much built it herself."
According to Tanna Cole, another component of the business is the fact that her personal beliefs inform her business practices and she unwaveringly supports causes such as Black Lives Matter, DREAMers, #RedforED and the importance of voting as a means to create a better future.
Tanna Cole believes in the importance of these respective causes so much that she will be conducting a giveaway on Nov. 3 for a free half-pound of candy in exchange for proof of an "I Voted" sticker or a picture of you at the polling place dropping off your ballot.
For Christina Berry, a regular customer turned Tanna Cole’s realtor, what initially drew her attention to Tanna’s Botannas was the fact that she was so open about sharing her political beliefs without fear she would lose part of her clientele, especially since BLM was a cause very close to Berry’s own heart.
Tanna Cole's candy also reminded Berry of her own roots.
"When I saw her page, it was kind of, like, almost a little bit nostalgic to see it, because I'm not, you know, a teen anymore, and I wasn't doing any of that stuff. I'm a mom, I have three kids, I have a business, you know, I work full time," Berry said. "And I was just like, 'Oh my gosh, this is like, you know, candy that I used to buy in Mexico and, like, the things that I would make when I was a kid.'”
The rapport built between Cole and her customers is one that results in fast friendships. Her clientele is constantly increasing in numbers every day as she serves eight new customers a day and has 100 regulars.
“I have so many regular customers that, like, I almost know their entire life story," Cole said. "And their grandparents come to me and now their kids. The person that found me this house, my realtor, was my customer before [she became] my realtor. [Christina Berry] came to my housewarming party, she comes to our family events, like, stuff like that."
Attention to detail certainly goes a long way, and Alberto Navarro, Cole’s partner, believes she has that in spades.
“She makes sure you get your money's worth and makes sure that her product that she is putting out is making other people happy," Navarro said. "The whole process of just getting a simple snack from her turns into more than just buying a simple snack. It's more like a friendship."
The most rewarding part of being a business owner for Cole is the way her customers’ eyes light up when they pick up their candy.
“When I see people get so excited to pick up something custom to give to somebody or when they're already eating their candy and dancing in the car, I watch them," Tanna Cole said. "And I just think it's like ... 'What the heck, am I actually making people dance on their way home?' You know, like, that's just a good feeling to me. In a time like this, I feel like helping somebody or making their day just really, really matters."
As the future quickly approaches, Tanna’s Botannas moves to lay a foundation down sooner than expected.
According to Cole, 2021 will be the year of expansion for Tanna’s Botannas for both a physical location and to fulfill her lifelong dream of operating a food truck, which will come to fruition at the beginning of next year.
For Cole, who she is and what she does are inextricably linked, and all she really wants is for others to “be kind, follow your dreams and be a good person."
To order from Tanna’s Botannas, direct message @craftycole on Instagram with your name, name of item interested in ordering and date and time of pickup.
Follow Amaris Encinas on Twitter