Entrepreneur Elle AyoubZadeh brings ‘global citizenry’ to fashion

Credit to Author: Rebeca Kuropatwa| Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2020 22:06:04 +0000

Born in Iran shortly after the revolution in 1981, Elle AyoubZadeh moved with her parents to Dubai and attended an American school until she was 13. They then moved to New Zealand where AyoubZadeh finished high school and attended university, studying business and specializing in luxury marketing.

“I always had this desire to see the world and do something with my life, so I bought a one-way ticket right after university to Australia… and that’s how I started my career in finance,” said AyoubZadeh.

“I’ve always been a person driven by instinct and didn’t see myself living the rest of my life in Australia. One day, I was standing outside of work and this bus went past. And, it had this ad on it that said, ‘Good things last longer in Canada.’ And I got this feeling in my gut and was on the phone with my mom when I saw it. And, I said to her, ‘I think I want to go to Canada.’ And my mom, God bless her, she’s always supported my big vision, what I want to do in life. And she said, ‘I’m sure you’re going to do that.’ And a couple weeks later, I saw the same ad, except it was in the newspaper, and I thought, this means something.”

After two years in Australia working for a global company, AyoubZadeh decided to ask for a transfer to the Canadian office in Toronto, which was looking to expand from 20 employees to 200 and needed all the help they could get.

Although she was given a nice promotion and a package to help cover her relocation costs when she came to Canada in 2007, having moved from one country to another as an adult a few times by then, AyoubZadeh knew that adjusting to a new country always comes with challenges.

“You get the good with the bad,” she said. “It’s like a coin with two different sides. When I moved here, it was when the financial crisis had hit. For me, a young person, single, and not knowing anyone in Canada, it was really the best time to immerse myself in work. I’ve always been very driven and very ambitious. I just enjoyed every challenge. I didn’t grow up with entrepreneurs, so I didn’t speak that language, but I did get really interested in venture capital. That was kind of the closest thing to building companies, for somebody with my skill set, which was really marketing, business development, and coming up with new ideas.”

It was then that AyoubZadeh realized that she was ready to pursue her dream of opening her own business. Having had experience helping other people with their businesses, she developed very strict guidelines for how her business would look and operate.

Zvelle, the company AyoubZadeh founded in 2015 in Toronto, employs people in Toronto, Canada as well as Florence, Italy where the shoes and bags are made, marrying high end fashion with comfort, maintaining that one does not need to come at the expense of the other. She takes pride in the brand’s exquisite Italian craftsmanship, which she has paired with her cross-continental background to create this globally-inspired line of women’s accessories.

AyoubZadeh was blessed to have had a brother, Amir, who has a developmental disability. Helping her mom with a high needs child, ensured that AyoubZadeh developed coping skills that only people in her situation possess at a young age – also making her considered by her peers “un-cool,” which afforded her time to herself. What had sometimes seemed like a burden for a teenager, she now sees the value in as she considers herself a global citizen in a world in which we are all truly equal, regardless of race, colour, or religion.

And, it is with this mindset that she runs her business. “I think that, in Canada, we live that way – that’s the beauty of this country,” said AyoubZadeh. “I believe in this so much that I decided to invest in building a company that really brings this idea of global citizenry to fashion. And, by ‘global citizenry,’ I’m talking about this mindset of being open to the world and embracing all the cultures, all the similarities and differences, and really applying it into everything you do.”

“That’s the world I grew up in and that I believe in. And, when we look around, I keep coming back to Canada. This is why people want to move here from all around the world. So, I wanted to bring that into fashion and really change the way women and their stories are portrayed.”

At the 2018 Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA), Zvelle was nominated for the Accessory Designer of the Year Award. Zvelle is a direct-to-consumer brand, so it doesn’t have any permanent locations. Its most recent pop-up location was in Toronto. They also name every style after different women from around the world – not famous women, but women who have a story that the company shares in their marketing. “It’s their way of impacting the world positively,” said AyoubZadeh.

“Everything I’m doing today would not be possible if my parents had not been immigrants, if I had not been an immigrant. I think this helps me understand other cultures better at the end of the day, regardless of what language somebody speaks or what they look like. I think it is that human connection that we all have, where we can really get together if we decide to do something positive in the world. So, that’s my journey.”

Living a purpose-driven and ambitious life, AyoubZadeh is determined to leave a positive footprint on this universe, proclaiming that there are no limits to good you can do or be. And, to other immigrants, AyoubZadeh implores that they be themselves, keep their culture, and use it to contribute to Canada and the world – “unfold your own myth,” as Persian poet Rumi said.