Simply put, Elle AyoubZadeh, designer and Creative Director of emerging Canadian luxury brand Zvelle, says "I’ve always had a passion for shoes!" when asked why she started her label. "I saw a void in the market for luxury shoes that catered to the multifaceted global woman. As someone who has worked and lived all over the world, I felt I had a unique point of view. So I decided to do something about it. After developing the business for a year Zvelle was born!"
Before launching Zvelle, Elle co-founded a luxury concept store that featured emerging designers from New York and around the world. She was responsible for all the creative aspects of the business. When she began the journey of starting her own business however, challenges inevitably sprung up. "One of the greatest challenges for me has been recognizing and following my own voice. There are always lots of opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do. As a designer and founder, it’s wise to have good counsel, but in the end it’s important to have conviction in your product and what it stands for. This takes time to develop and you need to go inside yourself to bring this out. The other challenge is of course building word of mouth. You need it to establish and grow a brand."
"I measure success by looking at each customer interaction. We can’t reach our big goals if we don’t add value and deliver with each interaction."
Elle works with a small team of people in Toronto, New York and Brazil on different aspects of her brand and business. As a young company, Elle notes that Zvelle has a lot of opportunities ahead. Success for her means being deliberate about the opportunities the team chooses to pursue. "I measure success by looking at each customer interaction. We can’t reach our big goals if we don’t add value and deliver with each interaction. This keeps us honest. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I love the relationship a brand has with its customer."
Elle advises new businesses and other designers to "run you own race. Focus on your own lane. If you’re looking at the lane beside you, you’ve got the wrong focus. This applies to both life and business, which for me is one in the same."
Focused, confident and sophisticated, Elle is also humble in how she credits those around her for her strength and success. "I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by many smart women and men who inspire and challenge me, depending on what I need at that time! My life partner Raymond Luk is an entrepreneur who runs a high growth financial-technology company. We’re both striving to build brands that will make a difference. Living with him keeps my competitive juices flowing! I also have an amazing advisory board of women who are doing great things in different industries and their successes are hugely motivating as well."
When asked what advice she would give emerging talent. Elle says to "Work hard. Get up every morning and keep at it. It was the turtle not the rabbit that won the race. Pay attention to the fundamentals that grow your business and not just to all the ‘social noise’. Canadian designers have all that it takes to build great brands and the best support we can get is Canadians buying Canadian. This goes for all industries not just fashion. It’s a personal philosophy and one that I regularly put into practice. At the end of the day the only thing that helps a Canadian brand grow is sales and support from consumers. You can have all the talent in the world but if nobody buys from you, you don’t have a business.
"Canadian designers have all that it takes to build great brands and the best support we can get is Canadians buying Canadian."
Unequivocally devoted to her business and brand, if Elle isn't working, she's usually thinking and dreaming about work. "There’s no separation between my professional and personal life. I chose to become an entrepreneur and I’m lucky that I get to live out my passion everyday so I don’t have any hard rules about separating the two." When she does manage to turn off the work switch, she's spending time with her partner Raymond, her American Cocker Spaniel Chilby and her family. "Chilby is my baby and fills my life with joy. But he’s high maintenance. I groom him like a show dog, which means he gets groomed ALOT. I love adventures so I’m always planning one."
In celebration of her first INLAND, we asked Elle to explain why "Made in Canada" matters? "It matters to the economy and affects every single person who lives here. Our shoes are handcrafted in a family owned factory in Brazil that specializes in luxury shoes but that’s only because we can’t do it in Canada. If we could, we would. The rest of our business is conducted in Canada. It’s also important for us to give back to Canadian organizations that are making a difference and we’re really proud of our partnership with Women’s College Hospital. It was the first hospital in Canada that allowed women to be trained in medicine and to become physicians. Through 2016 we’re donating $10 from the sale of each pair of shoes to the Women’s College Hospital Foundation.
An entrepreneur to be inspired by and a brand to watch out for, Elle AyoubZadeh's luxury shoe collection Zvelle will be available at INLAND this May 6-8, 2016 at 134 Peter Street in the atrium of the new QRC West tower at Queen & Peter.