University of Southern California - B.A. Art History
Artist and designer Elana Joelle Hendler is the CEO and founder of EJH Brand, a luxury lifestyle brand and home decor company in Los Angeles. In addition to locally designed and manufactured items like candles, stationary and wildlife throw pillows, the brand features Elana’s own animal print art.
“When I founded EJH, it was at a time in my life when I made the decision that I wanted to really put myself out there and discover what I was made of,” Elana says. “I knew I wanted to start a business and use my artwork as the foundation.”
As a Millennial entrepreneur, Elana has found she’s able to make use of all her strengths while she grows and develops new skills. Sure, it can make for a hectic schedule, but most importantly, it offers work Elana’s passionate about and invested in. Millennial or not, those are two qualities that endure.
Never let anyone define your potential.
A great question is brought up on your website: “What is luxury for the next generation?” How would you define this to the IWHJ Community?
I like to define luxury for the next generation as design-driven, handcrafted, conscious, sophisticated and locally made.
You have a fascinating family history and influence, could you tell us more how this has inspired your work?
I come from a family of strong and talented women who have taught me to seek every opportunity to develop, grow and shine as a human being. I think that's always been my goal with EJH: to grow and develop as a person and see what I can contribute to this world. I think their passion for education and personal development shines through in my work and I’m so proud of my family history and our connection to the arts.
What is a day like in the life of EJH Brand, and what are your key responsibilities?
A day in the life. Well, it's always hectic between emails, calls, meetings and managing what's going on in the showroom. My primary responsibilities include managing key accounts, designing new collections, overseeing our operations and working with our sales and PR team. The day is always full and there are never enough hours!
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
It was so important to me that I chose a path that would allow me to make use of all of my strengths and give me the opportunity to grow and develop new and exciting skills along the way. I never could have imagined I would know what I now know about business management, operations, manufacturing, legal ... it's a trip when I think about it.
It's the right fit because I get to be who I want to be, express myself creatively and am continually challenged. I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be; this tail end of my 20s is the right spot for me to put in the time and work hard. At the end of day, no matter how hard it may have been, I love what I'm doing and it feels right.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
As in life, there are so many things you cannot control or predict. Miraculously, I've somehow managed to isolate my work stress from my sleep, so when I hit the sheets, I'm not giving myself the opportunity to stay up and worry. That's probably because I know that I'll be getting up in just a few hours to deal with it, so I might as well clock in a few hours of sleep, right?
But seriously, my greatest challenges tend to deal with personnel and manufacturers. The dream is to build a team of talented, supportive, like-minded individuals who become part of your vision and grow with you. Reality doesn't always work that way. The challenge is to learn from disappointments and move forward with your head held high.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
It definitely can be. I'd love nothing more than to tell you I've truly mastered this topic, but I haven't. It's a work in progress. I feel very lucky in that I have a supportive boyfriend who allows me the flexibility to be myself and work the hours that I want to and still be in a loving, dynamic relationship. So in that way, I would say all things considered, I think I've got a handle on it — although there are definitely birthday parties and social events that are missed due to the needs of the business.
There is one no-fail tactic I can share: that’s the power of your calendar. I keep my whole life in my calendar and that includes personal commitments, even if they’re just personal commitments to myself. If you can schedule in "you time" and treat it with just as much respect as other events on the agenda, you're well on your way to balance.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
No, definitely not. There have been moments where I've had the opportunity to work with some big names in the industry and I thought, "Wow, this is so cool! I'm always going to remember this moment,” but I also know that relationships can change in a heartbeat and I've got a lot of work to do.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Never let anyone define your potential. Attitude is everything. Anything is possible. Do your best and then give yourself a break.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful and influential in your line of work?
Passionate, talented, persistent, hardworking, flexible, brave, adaptable and genuine.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
It's about to get bumpy but it's going to be one heck of a ride, but it's all going to work out and somewhere around 27, it's going to shift for the better.
How do you hope to see yourself in five years?