From Mergers to MerchandiseHow Adele Buchanan, went from corporate accounting to owning a small business


Adele Buchanan and her family moved from Toronto to Halifax in 2018 (Photograph provided by Adele Buchanan) 

A CPA for over 11 years, Adele Buchanan has acquired a number of areas of specialization that include mergers and acquisitions, litigation support in dispute valuation and loss quantification, financial reporting, tax planning, and most recently, children's clothing resale. 

In June 2020, Adele opened Once Upon a Child, Halifax's largest selection of pre-loved kids' clothes for babies, toddlers, and tweens. The transition to entrepreneur began four years ago when Adele, a new mom then living in Toronto, began shopping for her daughter. "I was constantly purchasing clothes and knew it wasn't sustainable, so I started looking at second-hand options and found Once Upon a Child," says Adele. As a CPA and mother of a toddler, Adele understood the value of sticking to a budget, especially with how fast her daughter grew. "I'm a big believer in sustainable fashion and saving money at the same time. It was a quick and easy way for me to recycle our family's outgrown children's items," she explains.

When Adele and her family moved from Toronto to Halifax, she was disappointed to learn that there were no Once Upon a Child locations in Nova Scotia. She knew that the financial knowledge and skills she had picked up in her accountancy study were a great springboard for starting her own business, so she decided to open one herself.

For Adele, the pandemic couldn't have started at a worse time. CPAs are trained to identify risks and create strategies to mitigate them, while still capitalizing on potential opportunities. Nevertheless, operating a business during a global pandemic was something Adele could not have anticipated. Since opening her store in 2020, Adele has navigated a harsh new landscape and faced unique challenges. Her experience and education allowed her to create financial models and projections to ensure that her organization stayed afloat during the multiple lockdowns.


Once Upon a Child buys and sells gently used kids’ clothing, toys and furniture (Photograph provided by Adele Buchanan)

"When I decided to become a CPA, I never imagined that I would be owning a small business," admits Adele. In university, she saw accounting as the most practical path forward. "It offered a steady career path with clear opportunities to move up and grow within the industry, and I enjoyed the work." But even though her life has taken a different turn, it’s her CPA training that made it possible.

The best advice Adele would give someone interested in becoming a CPA is to stick with it. "It's a challenging program but the designation allows you to be a forward-thinking financial leader, and if you work hard and lean on the people around you, you can really excel."

When asked what someone might be surprised to learn about her, Adele laughs and says, “my old coworkers would be shocked that I'm operating a children’s clothing store.”  

If you’re on the entrepreneurial road, CPA Canada has an abundance of resources to help you on your journey. And look to CPA Canada’s small business resources for strategy and planning advice. 

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