Enterprise Centre

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Summer Company Spotlight – Lauren Sziklai of LELA

Find her at the cottage, dipping in the bay or popping up at local markets – Lauren Sziklai is making waves in her business, LELA, an apparel company that has you looking fly while giving back. LELA designs a selection of classic + timeless wearable items including crewnecks, hoodies, and hats.

Through every purchase, a 10% donation is made to Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart organization, giving kids a chance to embrace their passion and gain the confidence and skills they need to succeed in life. This is heart warming, life changing work and we love seeing entrepreneurs in our Summer Company program emit this dedication.

Learn more about Lauren and her business through the Q+A below.

What is your favourite part about being an entrepreneur?

My favourite part about being an entrepreneur is the invaluable experience and skillset gained along the journey. As a student, I would never be able to learn the same lessons from a course as I have from starting my own business. Trying to turn an idea into reality and hoping your vision resonates with others is very scary, exciting, and fulfilling all at the same time. No form of education is quite like it, and I can’t wait to apply this entrepreneurial experience to my future endeavors.

What inspired you to start your business?

The main inspiration that drove me to start a social enterprise was my experience as an athlete. I learned how to alpine ski just after I learned how to walk, making the sport a huge passion growing up. I dedicated many childhood years to ski racing, attending the National Ski Academy for high school and competing in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). However, when my ski racing journey ended, I began reflecting on my athletic experience, realizing its significant impact on personal growth. Skiing undoubtedly made me more confident, worldly, and willing to take risks.

As a result, it opened many doors for my future. I wanted to find a way to help other children feel empowered through sports who have not had the same opportunities. This inspired me to start LELA and donate 10% of the profits to Jumpstart Canada, helping children in sporting programs reach their full potential.

What products do you offer?

We offer a selection of loungewear, including cozy hoodies, crews, and ball caps. The sweaters feature an embroidered logo on the front, with a unique motivational message screen-printed on the sleeve.

What’s the meaning behind the name LELA?

LELA (pronounced “Lay-la”) is derived from the Co-Founders’ names – Lexi and Lauren. My childhood best friend Lexi Noakes and I have been ski racing together for over eight years. We first came up with the idea for the brand while we were on the chairlift, reminiscing our early memories of skiing as kids.

Can you let us know a bit more on the social enterprise portion of your business?

We chose to donate 10% of our profits to Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart organization as their vision aligns with our objectives at LELA. 100% of Jumpstart’s donations go towards helping children in Canada access sports and play, aiming to enrich the lives of kids in need. Athletics is about more than just getting active; it is a chance for kids to embrace their creativity and connect with a community, becoming part of something bigger.

In addition, we want our loungewear to help cultivate equity and liberation in athletics for the Canadian sporting community.

How helpful has the SBEC been in kickstarting your business?

Starting a business can be a daunting experience that comes with financial risk and areas of uncertainty, but the SBEC has been an amazing support system to help me achieve my goals for the summer. They not only help with the initial financing but also provide entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and resources. In sum, I’m grateful to be a part of the Summer Company Program!

What are you favourite local spots to visit on a day off?

I love walking around downtown Collingwood and visiting the local shops. My favourite spots are Espresso Post, Gibson & Co, The Hive, and Homme Femme. It’s been so nice watching the downtown area evolve and thrive with small businesses.

What advice would you give someone that is thinking of starting a business?

The first piece of advice that comes to mind is to ensure you are truly passionate about the purpose and products behind your business. You will encounter many challenges and unexpected hurdles, which can lead to losing sight of your original vision and goals. Resilience comes much easier when you believe in what you’re selling and why you’re selling it.

Who is your biggest cheerleader (and why)?

My biggest cheerleader is definitely my dad. At around the same age, he also received a government grant for his student fencing business and has remained an entrepreneur ever since. My dad has been an amazing support system, as he has personally been through similar challenges. He never fails to provide a sense of motivation, brainstorm solutions, and celebrate my successes along the journey.

Who do you look up to for ideas and inspiration?

Most of my ideas and inspiration come from watching the businesses I admire most as a consumer. I find it really inspiring how some brands take their marketing to the next level, forming a lifestyle and community everyone wants to be a part of. It isn’t easy to achieve, but I think the best examples of branding geniuses are Lululemon and Aritzia. I’ve also been paying close attention to social enterprises such as Pangaia and TenTree. For upcoming Gen-Z consumers, having an ESG aspect of your business can make or break customer loyalty.

What crazy activities do you dream of trying someday?

This question was a huge inspiration for our hoodie and crew designs this year; a small message on the sleeve mentions exciting bucket-list items everyone should try in their lifetime. Personally, some of the activities I would like to do are heli-skiing, swimming with whale sharks, and maybe skydiving if I can work up the nerve.

What is your favorite book and why?

One of my favourite books is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell because it combines non-fiction, science, culture, and self-help. I find it very interesting to understand what factors influenced some of the most successful people, ranging from Bill Gates to The Beatles. It reveals a unique perspective that relates to everyday life.


Connect with Lauren:

Website: https://lelalela.ca/

Instagram: @lelalela.ca

Email: lelaloungewear@gmail.com

Tiktok: lelalela.ca