How would you feel if your products and business received international attention after being spotted on Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau after only a short time in business? Entrepreneur, Elham (Elle) AyoubZadeh had the chance to experience just that when Sophie Trudeau strutted her shoe line, Zvelle for multiple special events, including a visit to the White House.
Launched in 2015 with the help of the financing and mentorship provided by Futurpreneur Canada and BDC, Zvelle is an accessible luxury fashion and footwear brand for ladies sold exclusively online at Zvelle.com, as well as in their Toronto showroom and retail pop-up stores. Elle describes their collections as “unique, fearless and chic” and they aren’t released for a specific season but instead transcend seasons and go beyond borders.
Despite her business receiving so much attention and success in such a short time, Elle has also had to overcome some unique challenges due to being a women entrepreneur. “A male investor once told me I should bring a man in to run my business side of my company to help offset my ‘female brain’,” she shared as a particular example. “He assumed that I wanted to sit on the floor and play with shoes all day.” This is only one of the multiple examples that Elle has experienced while growing her business but although it’s hard to not let that get to you, she deals with it in the best way: “It’s not great to hear ignorant biases like this but you have to move on and I always think success is the best revenge.” And Elle has definitely been able to prove all those doubters wrong by building a brand in only 18 months that resonates with both Canadian and international women.
Every entrepreneur faces challenges and roadblocks and it’s never an easy journey when you start a business, however Elle shared some of her tips to help lead other fearless females to success:
1) Cut negative noise.
You will encounter plenty of naysayers and you will need to learn how to tune them out. Surround yourself with the right people as much as possible.
2) Decide what you want your product and company to be.
The best way to fail is to try to please everyone. Instead, decide what you want your product and company to be and have a specific direction that you stick to.
3) Fail fast and fail often is not as easy as it sounds.
It’s going to hurt and you won’t have that much time to heal but you still need to find a way to see the light at the end of the tunnel and pull yourself back up and keep going.
4) Look for talent before you need to hire them.
It always takes so much longer than you think to find talent that you trust to help build your brand that you are so invested in. Keep your eyes and ears open for top talent so when it’s finally time to grow you already know where to look.
5) Spend money only on what is absolutely necessary.
Not more or less. This will help build your own personal confidence in your company and yourself, and your business will be better for it.
Elle is just one of many women business owners changing the face of entrepreneurship in Canada and both Futurpreneur Canada and BDC are so proud to help people like Elle turn their idea into reality. You can show your support for women entrepreneurs like Elle by sharing this story on social media and joining our Thunderclap campaign here for International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2017.
If you’re a woman looking to start your own business, visit our website to connect with one of our experts.
Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada