Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are sister duo Alana and Erika Streisfield, who, together with their mother Ellen Zabitsky, have designed a line of slim knit pants that were desperately needed in the market. We caught up with Alana and Erika to find out what inspired their business and where they see themselves in 5, 10 and 20 years…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
We’re the co-founders and partners of the up-and-coming Canadian brand SLM. Together with our mother and partner, Ellen Zabitsky, we design slim knit pants that are “always skinny, never skin tight.”
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
In the quest for a skinny look, we found that the choices were limited. On the one hand, there was the comfortable but cheap, unflattering and un-everything legging. And on the other hand, there was the stylish but unaffordable mid-to-high-end designer pant.
There was an undeniable gap in the market. So, the three of us hit the drawing boards to design and produce the perfect pant that’s comfortable, chic and affordable.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
When we launched our S&M Collection in fall 2014.
We hosted a launch party at our mid-century modern house located in midtown Toronto – now dubbed SLM HQ. The night began with a fashion show of the new collection followed by the opening of our makeshift boutique located in our basement. The women went wild! Pants were flying off the racks and credit cards were swiping. It was truly a great moment realizing that our pants were in high demand.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In five years from now, we envision SLM as a well-established Canadian brand. In 10 years, we hope to be internationally recognized. And in 20 years from now, you’ll find us lounging by the pool and drinking mojitos made by our monkey butler.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
First, seek out a mentor. We’re lucky to have our mother, a business savvy woman and a fashion forecaster.
Second, make a plan. It’s usually overwhelming when you think about what you want to achieve as one individual goal. It’s easier to break it down into smaller steps in order to get from point A to B.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
The Panov Program. We hosted a beautiful charity event, “Pants for Panov,” and gave the proceeds to the program. The Panov Program is an initiative to bring precision chemotherapy to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The program is extremely important to us, as cancer is a horrible illness that has touched our family and friends.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Balancing school and business. It’s difficult running a company from a university campus. Thank god for our mother, caffeine and technology.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable is how you feel towards a person, place or thing that is both special and unusual. Something notable is worth remembering.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Erika: I’m all about breakfast food and Starving Artist is the best place to brunch. I just can’t get enough of their waffles!
Alana: Pho Linh. The food is super fresh, tasty and authentic.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Erika & Alana: Netflix; there’s no competition.
Erika: Make A Stand by Embody.
Alana: Sweatpants by Childish Gambino.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Erika & Alana: Diane Von Furstenberg. She’s a powerhouse and an inspiration for young women.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Erika: Israel – the culture is amazing, not to mention my friends and family that live there. Fingers crossed my next adventure is to Greece, where I will be sailing the Grecian Isles.
Alana: Israel – the people, food and environment are incredible. It feels like home! Next chance I get, I’m off to Japan. Sayōnara!
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Erika & Alana: Scrolling through social media and looking at friends’ travel pictures.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Erika: Sriracha sauce. Forget Frank’s – I put that sh*t on everything.
Alana: Online window-shopping. I browse every single website known to mankind, fill my shopping cart and then… quit the page.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Erika: Venti Starbucks coffee. I should really stick to a Tall. I wish I spent more money on Canadian-made products – I’m easily tempted by the cheaper option.
Alana: I wish I didn’t spend so much money on Uber. I love it, but it’s hurting my wallet! I wish I spent more money on the people I love.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Erika & Alana: Success is a feeling of having accomplished what you set out to achieve and not letting obstacles deter you from your goal!