Possibilities Beyond the Norm – Ela Martin

ela martin
Team Size

7 girls

Revenue

$63 000 monthly

Location

Poznań, Poland

STart Date

Jan 2018

Our female entrepreneur today is the founder, partner and strategy director of Rebell Studio, Ela Martin. Rebell Studio is a design and advertising agency from Poznań, Poland that works with large brands, but also with small creative projects. 

This talented entrepreneur started Rebell Studio with her business partner Beata back in 2018, soon after expanded their team and went global during the pandemic.

Read on to find out Ela’s story on how she went beyond the norm.

ela martin poznan poland rebell studio

INTRODUCTION

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.

From an early age I was among nerds, even today my husband and children laugh at me that I am hanging on Skype with a language teacher learning new things, instead of getting enough sleep on Saturday 🙂

But that’s how I am – personal development is my passion. I was also drawn to podiums from a very young age. I loved reciting competitions and being the school’s representative as the head of the school council. And there is art – I have a hand to reflect human characters in paintings. Those things just turn me on.

For many years my motto is: Ambition is the path to success, perseverance is the vehicle that you get there!

I earned my Master’s degree at Art Univerity in Poznań, then BA studies at the University of Economics and postgraduate studies at WSB Universities. In the meantime, I became a mother of two daughters, got married, divorced and remarried, all before I turned 26  

My first job was as a bank loan seller. Then I worked in a newspaper in the advertising department and finally as a painting and drawing teacher. At the age of 26, I started working in a creative agency and I found myself in this industry 🙂 

My clients persuaded me to start my own agency! So, starting my own business was the natural course of things. Rebell Studio is a company that believes in uniqueness in individuality and strength in diversity. About showcasing to the world, what’s important to you in a way that is exclusive to you. Rebell provides the platform of the possibilities beyond the norm.
We support and elevate brands to achieve sustainable growth with dextrous innovation and a pinch of madness, guaranteed to make you smile.

WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?

Normally I wake up at about 6:30 AM. The morning toilet and clothes take me about an hour. Then I wake the kids up if they go to school in the morning. If not, I pick up my box diet and quietly leave the house while the rest are still asleep. I have been following a box diet for some time and I can see many advantages. I save a lot of time and eat healthy. As a result, I am more focused on my work and feel I have more energy. 

ela martin beyond the norm

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.

As I mentioned earlier, I was encouraged by my clients with whom I have completed many projects to start my own agency. 

I’ve always worked under a male boss and somehow they always tend to make key decisions behind my back. So I’ve decided to open my business with a female colleague that I have worked with for many years. 

She has completely different competencies than me and has always impressed me with the speed of acquiring new skills, her talent, assertiveness, resourcefulness and full transparency. We can trust each other, often understand each other even without a word said and we know our strengths. In the end, we know that we are very hardworking and damn good at what we do!

Rebell, the Studio’s name, is a combination of rebel and belle (arti) – we both finished art university and art is very important for us. We both also have strong personalities and are brave to say ‘no’ and to give  an idea of how to do it better


Although we did not set such a rule, we always employ women – somehow they do better at interviews 😉 Many people at the beginning said “it will not work, you will argue soon, there must be a guy in the team”, but now they say “women’s team, this is your strength”. Women are great – they are strong, multi-tasking, smart, hard-working … and sensitive to beauty.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?

Rebell Studio has been on the market for almost three years. Recent months with Covid-19 have taught me that you still have to anticipate that there may be a more difficult period and the company must be ready for it. You can’t just consume or rest on your laurels. On the contrary, you constantly need to invest in development and look for opportunities to enter innovative solutions and services. Also, there are no problems, but there are challenges to be faced.

So my biggest challenge was to keep Rebell alive when the economy stopped due to the pandemic. But also thanks to this, I found the courage to act more globally and to go more to foreign markets. Today I have new, wonderful clients from all over the world, and this is just the beginning of our activities and their effects.

WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?

It has never been our goal to have a great agency or to become a corporation. We don’t want to lose our passion, which is talking to the client, brainstorming, coming up with advertising slogans or designing only for the management of someone else’s work. Of course, this is an element of our work, but let it stay so 🙂 Personal commitment, joy, the home atmosphere in the office, this is what our clients appreciate and what drives us.

I perceive development primarily through increasing competences in which we constantly invest and undertaking more and more amusing projects or tasks. This year, we also invested in helping to improve our design processes and in a person who helps us grow globally.

WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?

We have a tradition of celebrating the birthday of Rebell Studio. On our first birthday party, I joked that we would have our fifth birthday in New York. It used to be a joke, and today I think it can be done.

Our goal is to be a small agency with a great reputation in the world. Not only in Poland, but wherever there are companies that are looking for creative minds and good partners for their businesses. And to show that women can create a great creative agency and do a very good job.

RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS

ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?

There are a lot of great tools you can use. We use Slack, Toggl, now we are testing ICproject. If you want to be visible you can check Clutch or DesignRush.
As for the books…I read all the time some good books. Last one, but I think only in the polish edition was “Strong sex” by Sylwia Królikowska. Good thought that I remembered, “done is better than perfect”.

If you would like to find a coach – listen to TED. I’ve always found something inspiring in those talks.

WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?

Our clients have a great influence on our business. They teach humility, give room for creative development, show extraordinary trust and keep challenging me. 

But there are some special people too. Authorities have always been very important to me in my life and I was looking for people from whom I can learn a lot. 

Fortunately, I met several of them on my way. I will mention three – one was my professor from the Interdisciplinary Art Conservation and Renovation Studio – an extraordinary critic and art expert. A woman with great knowledge, unwavering energy and a good heart. She taught me to think about what is important to me, but also to be assertive. 

The second person today is an older colleague who introduced me to the world of strategic thinking. He not only taught me to listen to others but also to look at projects from a great perspective and has always believed in me. Sometimes I think that he feels responsible for me – like the Little Prince for a fox 😉 

The last person is my business-partner Beata who constantly challenges me but also supports, comforts, tolerates whining and laughs with me.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

If you only have an idea, a knowledge and a passion just do this! Open your own business.
Of course, you have to be prepared for many challenges, but also for a lot of good energy and satisfaction.

Running your own business is an opportunity, but also a responsibility, especially when you start hiring people.
However, always remember one thing. You’re not alone. There are many wonderful women around who will be happy to advise you, help you, and support you.
In the last two days, I have found twice a brilliant comparison of Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes – in completely different places. 

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS? 

Polish version of SIRI 😉 I hate when I try to use her calling someone from my contact list. SIRI always chooses the wrong people 😉

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?

As Ralph Speth says, “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

Big thanks to our supporters & affiliates ❤️

Violeta Semenova

Violeta Semenova
Founder
theBizLadies

Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!

If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.

By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.

If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!

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