Empowering young girls through fashion.
Elena Grant is the owner of Sofiabella.ca, a unique specialty boutique that offers age-appropriate clothing and accessories for tween girls. With a goal to empower young girls through fashion, Sofiabella takes tremendous pride in providing the very best customer service by treating each guest with kindness and respect. “We honour the greatness in you!”
1. What or who inspired you to start your business?
My own “tween-aged” daughter, Sofia-the namesake of the company, began to balk at the traditional children’s clothing stores around the age of 8/9 yrs. They no longer appealed to her fashion sense and more importantly, she identified them with being a little girl. Tweens are a very interesting group. “Too old for toys, too young for boys”. While Sofia did not yet know exactly who she was, she knew she did not want to dress like a little girl. Yet as a mother, I wasn’t comfortable with the offerings from many of the teen specialty retailers. The clothing was too sophisticated, too provocative and in many cases flat out raunchy and skanky! As I became more aware of the marketing geared towards impressionable young girls, my frustration increased. When you pay attention to the lyrics of pop music or watch music videos, when you observe billboards and print ads, when you see the likes of Paris, Britney et al celebrated in the media, the message becomes crystal clear. What is important is outward beauty and overt sexuality. Accomplishment, ability or substance doesn’t matter as long as you are sexy. NOT the message I want for my daughter, her friends, my niece, for any young girl. I want girls to feel empowered, to believe in their unlimited potential. I don’t think that you are what you wear. However, I do think that what you wear sends a message to the world about how you feel about yourself and how you expect to be treated. I want to provide apparel that allows young girls to express their individuality and celebrate what makes them unique and wonderful.
2. What motivates you?
I am passionate about a lot of things. My business allows me to fuse many of my interests perfectly: appreciation of fashion, love of children and desire to affect positive change. I try to live by the wise words of Gandhi “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. These words motivate me everyday to be a better person and to attempt to make the world a better place for my kids-Joshua, Sofia and Ben (aka the 3 ring circus).
3. How do you balance being a mom and an entrepreneur?
Can we add community volunteer to that list? It’s not easy. I do have an amazing husband who has picked up the slack at home, taking on the cooking, cleaning, Costco run etc. Without his support there is no way I could do it. I have also learned to let go and delegate. I have a few extremely competent staff who allow me to take time out so that I don’t miss any of my kids’ events. They are still my number one priority. The real challenge is to make time for myself. The number one thing I must do for myself is work out. I am a much better wife, mother, businesswoman etc. when the endorphin levels are high. I need to run. It keeps me sane.
4. What do you love most about what you do?
Hands down, no question it’s the girls. I love it when they come running into my store just to show me that they lost a tooth or that they got an A on their report card. I love their energy and their zest for life. My hope is that Sofiabella can play a small role in empowering them to go out and be all that they can be. I can’t think of any other business where hugs are a standard method of greeting clients! Love it!
5. What single piece of advice would you give someone who is starting out?
I’d have to borrow the words of Henry David Thoreau “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have always imagined”. Just take that leap of faith and know that even if things don’t work out exactly as you planned, you never fail as long as you learn something along the way.
This article first appeared on GoGoMamaGo.com.