Name: Emmanuela Okon, founder and style blogger
My business: E’s Element
Product: Jewelry and limited edition leisurewear
Year founded: 2021
Based in: Toronto, Canada
Why I started my business:
I knew I always wanted to start a business after I graduated from university, and so I did. I created E’s Element because I wanted to give people easy and quick access to quality jewelry and athleisure wear pieces to elevate their style daily, even while at home. From creating products to interacting with our community, everything our small team does aims to uplift people through their clothing and accessories. Hand cut and sewn garments are carefully produced in small batches as a sustainable approach to fashion.
The biggest challenge I’ve overcome:
As an entrepreneur, I have faced many challenges in gaining brand awareness. As with every other small business, these things take time. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a very supportive Instagram community. This has dramatically impacted the traction E’s Element has gained, especially as a small Black-owned female-owned business in Canada.
I’ve learned to keep working at what I believe in, even when I don’t see the desired results right away. Investing time and attentive work into my business goals has definitely paid off in the long run!
What the future holds:
Whether it’s our customers, like-minded entrepreneurs we partner with, or the team we’ve built, there is so much to learn and exchange with people through the position our business puts us in. In the future, we hope to continue growing relationships and meeting new people who we are able to help in expressing their personal style. Pop-ups are super exciting for us! We hope to have more in-person pop-ups and one day open a physical location where we can welcome customers in and get to know them better.
It’s rare to find an entrepreneur—or anyone who is successful at their craft—who has never struggled in some way to reach their goals.
Advice I’d give to a new entrepreneur:
A piece of advice I always come back to is: you are your biggest supporter. Running a business will involve some trial and error and the best way to learn is by making mistakes! It’s rare to find an entrepreneur—or anyone who is successful at their craft—who has never struggled in some way to reach their goals. Early on in the development of E’s Element, there were times it was discouraging, frustrating, and stressful to face the aspects that were not working.
By persevering through the hiccups, I was able to build out a system that worked for me. When you run into mistakes, remember to persist in supporting and believing in yourself. Be patient with yourself, and don’t forget to give yourself credit for taking on the journey of creating something you care about.
Build Black with Shopify was developed to create one million Black businesses with partner organizations like Operation Hope. Its aim is to provide tools, resources, and education to remove the traditional barriers to Black entrepreneurship. Join the Build Black program to connect with other entrepreneurs like you.
What legacy I want to leave:
At the center of what I do is my drive to uplift and empower people like myself. As a woman and Black business owner, I always seek opportunities to share the knowledge I have and encourage more people to pursue their dreams in creating something they love. I hope the work I do leaves a lasting impression on people to be confident in themselves and believe in their ability to share their passion with the world.
What it means to be to be a Black business owner:
The support we’ve received from absolute strangers, online marketplaces, and other businesses has been absolutely amazing. In 2023, being a Black-owned business is a blessing, and I am super grateful that E’s Element is getting the recognition it deserves. However, this wouldn’t be possible without the genuine love and support we’ve received from other platforms, like Shopify, that strive to support Black-owned businesses like us.
While it can be difficult to get familiar with the tools and algorithms of different sites, in the long run it’s important to be familiar with all of them to maximize your reach.
The social platform I use most for marketing:
Instagram (primary), Pinterest, and TikTok.
How I use social media to grow my business:
Social media is a huge part of E’s Element’s success, especially as a primarily online business. One thing we do is utilize multiple social platforms. While it can be difficult to get familiar with the tools and algorithms of different sites, in the long run it’s important to be familiar with all of them to maximize your reach.
We make sure to use all channels! Social media can often be saturated with trendy content that’s put out as often as possible. For E’s Element, we work to share stories, experiences, and information that are meaningful to both us and our community. By creating content with intention, we resonate with more people to grow our business!
Feature image courtesy of E’s Element