Ela Martin is a Poznań, Poland-based entrepreneur who saw the appeal of running your own business from a young age. Growing up, her parents ran their own small business and would often try to dissuade her and her four sisters from following in their footsteps, because of the sheer amount of work that goes into it. But Martin saw entrepreneurship differently: in it she saw freedom and the ability to live life on her own terms. After spending a few years working at different creative agencies, she and her business partner Beata Jagodzinska decided to branch out on their own. Today their all female company, Rebell Studio, helps companies large and small with their design and advertising. Martin says that even though times have been tough economically during the pandemic, she’s made sure to look after her staff and continue to pivot into new markets.
Martin’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
From many years my motto has been, “Ambition is the path to success, perseverance is the vehicle that will get you there!” So starting a business was the natural course of things. Before that, I worked in several creative agencies, but on someone else’s terms. I wanted to start working on my own terms.
I’ve always believed that there is strength in connecting creative minds and cooperation is the guarantee of success. So I got together with my friend Beata and worked towards creating Rebell Studio, a company that believes in uniqueness, in individuality and strength in diversity. We believe in showcasing to the world, what’s important to you in a way that is exclusive to you. Rebell provides a platform of possibilities beyond the norm.
My biggest success is my clients’ satisfaction. You don’t hear every day that you do a good job. Sometimes we have worse days, weaker projects, moments of doubt. But then comes the day when, for example, we celebrate Rebell’s birthday, the company and all the good people say about us and our work – when you know that you are in the right place at the right time. My success is that I know today that what I do, I do well and this is what I want to develop further!
The biggest challenge for me is finding the balance between life and work. I am a workaholic by nature and I put most of my energy into my work. My family and my sense of balance suffer from this. A day on the couch is a waste of time for me. I like to be active, so when I’m at home, at least I have to clean up, study something, read something. I rush myself. As if I couldn’t afford to do nothing.
My parents run their own business. I have four sisters and our parents always discouraged us from having our own businesses, warning us that it is a 24-hour job, 365 days a year. But I saw it differently – independence, the possibility of investing in and developing your own business, taking a break at any time of the day, setting your own rules.
Today we are in a difficult economic moment because of COVID-19. The pandemic has meant that we all have had to change our goals and priorities a bit. Therefore, today, the most important thing for me is to maintain the business and team, but also to develop in new markets. I have always believed that there are no limits to our services, but only those we set for ourselves.
Role models have always been very important to me and I was looking for people from whom I could 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 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 always believed in me. Sometimes I think that he feels responsible for me – like the Little Prince for his rose 😉 The last person is my business-partner who constantly challenges me, teaches me humility, but also supports, comforts, tolerates whining and laughs with me.