YEDaily: Ela Kowalewska and Martin Aldorsson

It can be hard in an oversaturated marketplace to stand out and make a name for yourself, but 30-year-old Ela Kowalewska, along with her business partner and fiancé Martin Aldorsson (31), launched the ela line of handbags in September 2010 – which in less than a year has become a known brand among Canada’s fashionistas. Find out more about these two young entrepreneurs in today’s YEDaily.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell. / Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
We design and locally produce accessories in the affordable luxury segment. Aside from the true love of handbags, it was the realization and need that came from a void in the affordable luxury marketplace. There wasn’t a great selection of handbags offered with great design aesthetic and quality at an accessible price point. The particular inspiration for the ela line is the idea of humble luxury – designs that always strive to showcase, rather than upstage, the wearer.

The timing was also right: Both my fiancé, Martin Aldorsson, and I have worked in the industry for the past 10 years and felt we could offer something different. We are both sort of global nomads who grew up from a very young age residing in different countries and so we bring a certain worldly perspective to the brand.

ela handbags

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Aside from being able to work together and split our time between Canada and Sweden, we enjoy the balance between the creative and business aspect of building a brand. Everyday is different.

The most challenging part?

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
We hope to establish a recognizable brand in North America and Europe and expend the line to belts, wallets, and men’s accessories.

What does success look like to you?
Seeing our customers wearing our bags.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
When we took the risk and started our own brand.

ela handbags second

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Get experience working for a company that inspires you within the field you love, learn as much as you can and use that knowledge as the platform for your own venture. Be flexible and find a good mentor.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes, aside from supporting charities we also like to get involved in creative outlets that bring to light important worldly issues. For instance, we just got involved in supporting the film Within Every Woman, a documentary that explores the forgotten history of “The Comfort Woman,” a term used to describe over 200,000 girls who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II in Asia.

What is Notable to you?
Staying humble.