Emmanuela Okon, an alumnus of the Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology (CCIT) program at the University of Toronto Mississauga, decided to “stick to [her] gut” when she launched E’s Element in January 2021, an online jewelry and activewear company. While simultaneously planning to launch her business, she landed a contract job at Shopify after graduating. “It all happened pretty much on schedule with no intention of happening,” she says.
In college, Okon admits to being introverted, finding presentations difficult in her classes. In addition to managing a double major in political science and CCIT, she also wrote for her blog while holding a part-time job. Her favorite classes at UTM were web design, photography, and videography, all of which taught her valuable and transferable skills that she uses now.
The idea of starting her business came to her during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. “I wanted to start a business after I graduated from college,” Okon shares. “I created E’s Element because I wanted to give people quick and easy access to quality jewelry and sportswear.”
Launched as E’s Element, her jewelry business allows her to fully utilize her creativity, creating quality products that co-exist with each other. Okon uses premium fabrics for their sportswear, carefully cutting and sewing them in-house to fit the desired look. She also uses stainless steel and plated finishes for her jewelry. According to its website, E’s Element uses sustainable packaging that reduces waste without sacrificing quality.
Although Okon loves his job, it has its challenges. She runs her business full time and spends her weekends strategizing and planning for the following weeks. As an independent black female fashion entrepreneur, she says gaining fame was one of her biggest hurdles. “Yet, like any other small business, these things take time,” adds Okon. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive Instagram community, which had a huge impact on the attraction E’s Element gained, especially as a small [Black and female] company owned in Canada.
When asked what kind of challenges she preferred between those she faced as a student or as an entrepreneur, she replied: “I would choose entrepreneurial challenges mainly because I can deal with [those] who come my way. Okon says these challenges have helped shape her brands. “I enjoy being creative on a daily basis. My business ventures give me the opportunity to express my creativity on social media and help educate my audience online,” she explains.
Despite her challenges, Okon notes that being around other black women showing their love for entrepreneurship, media and fashion is a unique experience. “Those are the three things that excites me the most,” she concludes. “Learning to appreciate the craft as a black woman, as well as inspiring others in my age range to do the same is such an amazing feeling.”
For more from Emmanuela Okon and E’s Element, follow her on Instagram @ellahh and @ellaelement.shop.