Who is Zelda Middleton, could you please introduce yourself?
I am Zelda Middleton. I’m a South African-born Canadian living and working in Oakville, Ontario with my husband and two daughters. Our children are young adults each with an exuberant sense of ambition that keep our lives interesting. (In non-pandemic) times I am very sociable and very involved in my community.
What is your business and when did you start?
Ellacrea is my textile design and production practice which I started in 2020.
What inspired you to start your business?
I’ve owned my own business before in Event Planning and Public Relations so I’m an entrepreneur at heart. In 2016 I decided to go back to school to make my long-held love affair with fabrics official and more than just a hobby. I enrolled for the Bachelor of Craft and Design (Textile Design) degree at Sheridan College and for 4 years I soaked up all the inspiration I could about anything to do with textiles within a broad program of interdisciplinary design. This was the best thing I could ever have done for myself as it cemented my resolve to combine previous business experience with updated technical knowledge in textiles, laying the foundation for a new business.
What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?
Truly, I am still in the initial stage so its all very fresh in my mind! Starting the business during the pandemic presents obvious challenges in the isolation one feels. Working at home for now is the status quo but in the technical world of textiles it can be challenging when services and products which are by definition “hands-on”, are either on slow down or not accessible altogether. I am learning like the rest of us how to navigate support, interactions and collaboration in a virtual world so things are improving. It is also very difficult to sell tangible, tactile product to customers when they can’t touch it or feel the textures of fabrics.
What motivates you about your business?
Innovation and problem-solving motivate me and design needs both. I love constructing-deconstructing and figuring out novel ways of presenting not only designs on fabrics but products themselves. The freedom of running my own business allows me to earn a living alongside my family whilst doing the thing I love most in the world. That’s motivating.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Just do it! There will never be the PERFECT moment to take the leap.
Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?
I am very passionate about flying and am a Private Pilot.
The best business advice I ever received was…
Don’t compare your “beginning-self” with the “end-self” of others.
Go along at the pace that’s right for you.
Don’t ever commit to a business that you don’t really enjoy doing most days.
My definition of success is…
being rewarded for being creative and realizing that I enjoy the biggest part of most days.
If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to…
Be more confident in your abilities.
Don’t be afraid or hesitant to promote your business.
Take time regularly to ask the question: “am I enjoying this?”
Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are…
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Influence – The psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Wired to Create by Scott Barry Kauffman & Carolyn Gregoire
My personal tagline is…
Inspired to Make.