Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a clothing line but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Diana Gelfand, co-owner of Skoki, located in Toronto, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Skoki is a female-founded luxury accessories brand led by 3 Toronto moms! Our brand offers high-quality, consciously crafted, and stylish balaclavas for children ages 0-10 and for adults. European-inspired, our hats are made of 100% soft merino wool and are designed to keep necks, foreheads, and ears fully covered to shield from the cold winter elements. The Skoki balaclava is a winter staple in every wardrobe! Our children and adult hats can be found in 3 collections offering a natural pompom, a knit wool pompom, or a classic look with no pompom at all.
Tell us about yourself
Before starting a family, I graduated with a BBA, with a specialization in Marketing from the WLU School of Business and Economics. I spent several years working at Canada's Largest Grocery Retailer in marketing, branding, and product management capacities. I became a Realtor while simultaneously managing the marketing roles in our family business. Now I am a mom of 4, including a set of twins!
The idea for Skoki all started when I became a first-time mom! I was out for a walk on a chilly Toronto winter's day with one of my business partners (and sister-in-law), Renata. My twins were all bundled in their stroller wearing these beautiful wool balaclavas that Renata had brought over from Europe for both her children and mine. Being of European descent, we were able to appreciate the functionality and the quality of these hats. They just made sense, and this would be something our parents would have dressed us in. That is when we realized that there is a huge gap for these high-quality balaclavas in North America. With often such long and cold winters in Canada, we were perplexed as to why these hats didn't already exist in Canada. And so, the idea for Skoki was born.
My motivation to keep going each day stems from various sources. Even now, I often derive my inspiration and motivation from learning about other entrepreneurial success stories. Those were especially helpful in the early days! These days much of my motivation comes from the continuous positive reinforcement we get from our customers. Receiving positive reviews and having customers return for repeat purchases is extremely rewarding. Knowing that people really love our products and that they recognize the quality and functionality we've tried so hard to achieve without compromising on style.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner is the pride in actually bringing this business from idea to fruition. Starting from scratch can be a very daunting task. Being able actually to see our business come to life is incredible. However, I would have to say that a bigger accomplishment for me is the example I've been setting for my children, that they too can one day do what they love. In fact, ever since starting Skoki, my children have been continuously coming up with business ideas for themselves!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner requires full-time attention. There are no 9-5 hours, and work does not get left at the office. Balancing time between work and family has been challenging and has often resulted in many late nights.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just start. It's very easy to hold off until you have the perfect plan, but often this just leads to procrastination and can even give you enough time to convince yourself that it's a bad business idea. Don't do that to yourself - just start!
- There is nothing wrong with having business partners. If you can create synergies, finding the right partners can help spread the daunting tasks required to launch and run your business and also helps to keep each other motivated.
- Get dressed and ready to "go to the office" every day, even if your office is in your house. Working in pajamas, though cozy, does not create the proper mindset to focus professionally on your workday.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Skoki is co-founded by 3 Toronto moms: Milana Kleidman, Renata Aysina and Diana Gelfand.
Milana is a mom of two. She is a passionate marketer that has spent over 13 years building meaningful consumer brands in the food and personal care categories.
Renata Aysina is a mom of 4. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science with a Masters's degree in Management. After completing her studies in the UK, she moved to Toronto to pursue a career in financial compliance.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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