Julie Ellis
IMPACT INVESTING

Julie Ellis

#90

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Coach to Executives & Entrepreneurs, Co-Founder Mabel’s Labels

Don’t over consult – Julie Ellis

“As you write code you have a technical debt. And so how do you create something that’s as modular as possible that can scale with you”

ABOUT

Julie Ellis is a notable executive and business coach. She provides her unique experience and expertise, gained through 25 years of working first in the corporate world, and then as a leading Canadian entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of award-winning Mabel’s Labels, one of Canada’s greatest small business success stories.

As a professionally certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (2020), Julie works directly with bold leaders propelling them to unlock their capacity, leading to accelerated success.

Since starting her own coaching company, Julie Ellis and Co. in 2016, Julie has been advising and working directly with dozens of organizations. Through Impact Coaches, Julie has been coaching Ontario partners for a leading professional services organization. She was enlisted as the Growth Mentor for female-founded companies in Beyond Boundaries, a program run by Haltech and funded by the Canadian government in their efforts to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada by 2025. She also spent 18 months as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Snuggle Bugz, a privately owned omni-channel retailer based in Burlington, Ontario. She has been advising entrepreneurs through the Hamilton-based Innovation Factory and Halton-based Haltech since 2019. She is also Chair of the Board at Angel One Investment Network, one of the most active angel investor groups in Canada.

A sought-after speaker and trainer, Julie has developed keynotes and workshops for private companies, corporations and associations, with titles such as “Ignite, Scale and Exit”, “Success Secrets of Wonder Women!” and “Why We All Need to Think Big!”.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Julie Ellis

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
welcome Julie for joining us today. Welcome to the Supporters Fund ask an angel i’m your host Jeffrey Potvin and let’s welcome our investor for today which is julie ellis and julie thank you for being with us today

Julie:
Hey ! thanks for having me it’s great to see you

Jeffery:
Likewise. Well the way we like to start things off is if you can give us a little bit of a background on your past where you kind of come from and then a little bit on today, where you are at and then one thing about you that nobody would know

Julie:
Okay so i started out my life as a financial planner. and uh when i started my career worked my way through a couple of different roles and ended up as a financial planner in the investment services industry. And at that time kind of dreamed of like jumping out of the hamster wheel and doing something that i had a little bit more control over my own destiny. So together with three friends that i had met when we went to the University of Waterloo together i started a business called Mabel’s Labels in one of the founders basements and we made customized name labels for kids that stuck to all their gear everything they took out into the world to daycare to sports camp to school and so that everything would come back home again. So the labels go through the dishwasher in the microwave uv resistant super sticky super durable. And so we started that business in 2003 as a direct to consumer play and people were not generally selling things on the internet it was kind of in the early days of e-commerce and you know there was no Shopify to build yourself a site. And so we got ourselves going and long story short we grew the first basement and decided my business partner who’s my sister-in-law should buy a bigger house so we had a bigger basement. Which she did. and then we took a commercial space and Mabel’s is actually still in that space today. We were able to take on more square footage in the building and that sort of thing and then we grew it up to about 40 people we had a line we custom manufactured the labels ourselves we had a line we sold into target in the us and walmart in canada that was personalized on the fly with a sharpie marker we had those made in china. And then avery labels came calling. And although the business wasn’t for sale at the time we were kind of imagining our future as the next stage of you know as you do when you hit different thresholds of growing your business. And long story short they made us a great offer, and so at the end of 2015 we sold the business to CCL industries which is the owner of the Avery labels brand and we liked that they were Canadian we liked that they kept the companies kind of ran themselves that they acquired so we keep our space and our team in Hamilton Ontario. And we would be able to keep growing the business with someone else’s capital instead of our own. And so after the acquisition, i stayed i thought I would stay forever but in the end I stayed for about six months and then I came out on the other side and sort of took some time to figure out what I was gonna do once we sold the business good friend of mine, Pete encouraged me to join angel one investment network in Burlington and i became an angel very quickly investing in a deal with Pete and some other people that i got to know. And then after I left Mabel’s did a little consulting went around someone else’s business for a while for him and then came around to where I’m really doing coaching and advisory work for corporate executives as well as Entrepreneurs.

Jeffery:
I love it it’s very in-depth lots of you’ve done a lot of great things and one thing about you that nobody would know

Julie:
My university degree from the University of Waterloo is in dance

Jeffery:
Nice

Julie:
yes so bachelor of arts and dance and the program doesn’t exist anymore but it’s uh — yeah my path has definitely been kind of quirky right like how you go from you know a dance degree to financial planning to being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is definitely not like you know what you would have imagined when you started out

Jeffery:
For sure but there’s one thing i guess that it all kind of stems from or at least i may believe it stems from is the time that you spent in corporate at RBC where you were learning about financials you were learning about businesses especially startups how much of that impact changed your kind of trajectory going forward in getting into entrepreneurship?

Julie:
I think that it was kind of timely because i think you know at a point like i was starting to have kids and it’s a point where you really kind of evaluate your life right.Your life is changing substantially and you start to really think about you know what do i want to do next. And because my husband had his own business we were sort of geographically tied to where we were and as i started having my kids i didn’t really want to get on a train and go for an hour away from them every day i wanted to be closer and so it felt like the time was right to take that leap and do something you know so yeah i had the business experience, met a lot of people, saw a lot of things on that side. and you know for a while i did both um until that became fairly untenable. Like having two having two full-time jobs isn’t fun.

Jeffery:
Oh it can uh takes away your focus and certainly does burn you down a little bit but i think a lot of the financial side and what i fin