Launching your own brand in the midst of a global pandemic may sound crazy. Some may not have understood why I chose to leave my 9-5 job during a time when businesses were facing challenges, unlike anything they had experienced before. With the onset of the pandemic, I was managing to keep up with not only a demanding full-time job from home with three children and no childcare but the added pressure of absorbing the workload of a significantly down-sized team. It was clearly an unsustainable situation, and I knew there could not have been a more perfect time to make a change – and so I did.
The truth is, being my own boss was a dream I’ve had since childhood, and as I found myself dedicating many hours to my career, I realized I wanted those hours to be spent towards something more personally meaningful. I had attained extensive professional experience with leading fashion brands and was ready to realize the vision of creating my own brand.
I have always, and even more so now as a mother of three young children, appreciated comfortable clothes that feel special, effortless, and chic and are made thoughtfully with the highest quality in mind. The vision for So Elly came to life long before the pandemic and was born from the idea that everyday clothes can be timeless and beautiful, and transcend generations, seasons, and moments in life.
While this was an idea long in the works, as the world went into quarantine, I reevaluated what truly mattered to me. I turned an untenable situation into an opportunity to focus on what was most important for both my family and my professional future. I realized that at this time my kids needed me more than ever. Fortunately, I was in a position where I was able to take a leave from my job in order to care for my family; however, the concept of So Elly kept calling. It was during these moments – where I arguably spent too much time taking pictures for my newly created Instagram account dedicated to gardens and flowers – that I realized if there was ever a time to take a risk, this would be it. I had just turned 38 and I kept thinking I cannot wait any longer – it’s now or never. And that’s when the real work began.
I turned an untenable situation into an opportunity to focus on what was most important for both my family and my professional future.
Now as the proud Founder and CEO of So Elly, a line of thoughtfully sourced and locally manufactured, elevated, everyday wardrobe-essentials, warmly named after my late grandmother, Elly, I want to share a few key lessons from my own journey that may help another aspiring entrepreneur take the leap.
1. Control Self-Doubt – As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to be persuaded by the negative opinions of those around us and even by our own inner critic. However, giving in to self-doubt not only robs you of the courage and resilience you need to build a business from the ground up, but it can be the very thing that can make or break everything you’ve worked towards. A great way to control self-doubt is to find sources of encouragement and inspiration in your everyday life whether that be through friends and family, podcasts, books, or social media. Fostering a positive mindset and attitude can easily help you curb those pesky voices.
2. Don't Be Afraid to Take Risks – You can't achieve success without taking risks or putting yourself out there. Whether or not you succeed in every endeavor along the way, you will always gain invaluable experience and knowledge that will only serve to propel you closer to your dreams. Trust in your innate ability to be adaptable in any situation and learn to roll with the punches. This is essential for getting your business off the ground. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get out of your head and just do it!
3. Create the Culture That You Want – Establishing a culture is so critical towards building the kind of business you want to lead. Imbuing your values into your company culture will allow you to create an atmosphere and working environment that are conducive towards your own growth as well as the growth of your employees. It will also allow you to meet like-minded people who can support your mission, even more, when it aligns with their own values.
4. Find Your Dream Team – Even if you feel like a superhero some days, you can’t do everything alone. It is essential for the growth of your business and your growth as a business leader to be able to acknowledge and seek assistance when you need it most. A great place to start is to find good business partners that can help you get to the finish line. Remember, communication and collaboration are key. While it is important for your team to fully understand your vision and expectations, it is also important to respect and encourage the sharing of others’ aesthetics and points of view. I have been so fortunate to find incredible partners in all aspects of business that support So Elly.
5. Always Visualize the Future of Your Business – You already know that you want to start a business and some of you may even know what your end goal looks like, however, it is far more important to visualize where your business needs to be at certain checkpoints along the way. What does your business look like in 3 months? 1 year? Even 5 years? Staying focused on the future rather than getting caught up with the ins and outs of the day-to-day can help you gauge how close you are to your next goal. It allows you to stay focused and helps to identify the moments where you need to stop and reevaluate your current system of operations.
Staying focused on the future rather than getting caught up with the ins and outs of the day-to-day can help you gauge how close you are to your next goal.
Becoming an entrepreneur takes so much work, but it has been incredibly rewarding working towards something of my very own creation and meeting amazing people along the way. If there’s one key lesson that I want aspiring entrepreneurs to walk away with, it's to trust your heart and intuition. If you feel the time is right, don’t hesitate.