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Elisabeth Crossley-Wright | Montreal | Quest For Success!

I was a captain in the Danish army, which brought me on NATO missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. After leaving the army, I studied law and worked in the UN mission in Kosovo - arranging special needs voting, and monitoring election fraud. I had seen the stark inequalities of the world during those missions and felt committed to do my part to change what I could. When I started designing jewellery it was always with a focus on storytelling and conveying important messages. This led me to design the Global Goals collection - which is basically 17 bids for a better world.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

How did the idea for your business come about?

I love the concept of communicating through other means than words. I think a piece of jewellery can speak a thousand words, and love the idea of creating a symbolic piece that means something very personal to the person who wears it. For me its not about actual monetary value, but the emotional currency we use when we give a gift. This led to getting involved with the UN Global Goals, and tap into a community who wishes to contribute on a larger scale and be part of something bigger. In a way, jewellery is my platform to have a voice.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Apart from cashflow (which is every new business’s Achilles heal), there hasn’t really been any huge hurdles - or perhaps I’m just more inclined to view them as inevitable learning curves. I learn new things and test new ideas everyday, and I love it. I really subscribe to the idea that “Necessity is the mother of invention”, so I think hurdles are necessary to spark productivity and creativity.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I really am more of a podcast person, as I can listen to them on the go. My favourites are “Masters of Scale” with Reid Hoffman, “How I built this” with Guy Raz and “Desert Island discs” on BBC. If I read, its always in the form of an audio book. Lately, I’ve listened to Reid Hoffmans “Blitzscaling” and Rajeev Balasubramanyam’s “Professor Chandra follows his bliss”, the first being almost a road map for entrepreneurs and the second a funny and endearing portrait of a man who changes his ways late in life. I also always have all seven Harry Potter books downloaded, and listen to them if I feel worried or down. They are my on the go ‘Highway to Bliss”. (-:

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

Whenever you start something new, you’ll meet all sorts of reactions, ranging from support to questioning, to judgment. I have noticed that the more negative reactions seem to come from people who haven’t ‘taken the jump’ themselves, and I’ve reasoned that their comments are perhaps more related to their own fear of taking a risk. That said, I feel its important to hear all sorts of opinions - be they negative or positive. I’d worry more people were lukewarm or disinterested. I think the important thing is to focus on the passion that led you to be entrepreneurial in the first place, as its ultimately this which will continue to spur you on.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

Most certainly the experts and advisors I have come to surround myself with. The list is incredibly long, but to name a few, this counts Jivan, the extremely talented to jeweller who brings my designs to life, - Caroline, our fabulous graphic designer, - Ariane, who’s a wizard with creating and printing the cads, - Amalia who has introduced me to the press world in NYC and my husband Michael who understands business better than any one else I know. Apart from my husband, I knew none of these talented people before I started my business, and it's an enormous joy to work with them and learn from them. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to create anything. Its really been a team effort.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I’ve learned that you more or less get ten ’no’s' for every ‘yes'. In the beginning I found it very daunting and immediately started questioning myself, the idea, and so on. Now I just know that these are the odds. I jokingly compare it to dating: You pitch with your whole heart, and they still may not call you back. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dating, it just means you haven’t found your best match yet.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Find a problem you feel you need to solve, or an issue or concept you want to improve. And be passionate about it! If you truly believe in your idea, it feels much more like an exciting journey than a quest for success.


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