Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business.
My name is Elva Li. I am a Brand Creative Director, Femme Brand Expert, and Speaker.
From growing up as a “good girl” in Shanghai to moving to Melbourne and “making it” in the corporate world, I left the 9-5 and founded Elva Li Branding and Lifestyle Studio, co-founded Impact the Future Giving Circle, and continues creating and evolving into my next level.
With a 10 year background in business advisory and a qualified personal stylist, coach and NLP practitioner, I have combined my creative flair with my business savviness to help visionary female coaches and founders elevate their brand and step into their next level through my unique FemmeBrand system.
I integrate holistic brand strategy, creative direction, and mindset work to translate the soul of a person onto screen — so that they can elegantly increase their perceived value, expand their influence, and create more impact.
My branding and lifestyle studio has been evolving and up-leveling and having 5 figure months this year.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
There’s a song on repeat in my world and whenever I play it, it reminds me of the time I started my own business and finally left my corporate job.
“I spend too much time thinking about
who I’m supposed to be
I play by everybody’s rules
that don’t seem right to me…
Should I even care?
They’re all sitting there
and everyone’s staring at me
If I step out in the spotlight
maybe I’ll be set free
What if I back down now
’cause I’m afraid of what might happen
What if they turn away
when I show them who I truly am
What if I lose my breath
when I throw those big doors open
What if I shine?…”
I was that girl playing by everybody’s rules, playing small at the corporate world and not daring to stand up as who I truly am.
Maybe you can relate too. If you are also a female entrepreneur, you’re someone who has chosen to take the risk of building a business that expresses who you are and allows you to live in your genius zone and do the things you love, then somewhere along the line you felt like you didn’t fit in the 9-5 somewhere along the line, you felt like you were different from everyone else around you.
If you’re like me, you know deep inside that there’s something more, there’s something different, there’s something better.
I grew up being a “good girl” for my parents, playing the good “successful” daughter, studying at the top university, and then living in the “successful” corporate world.
But that life was never meant for me. Every morning from my office window I would look up at the blue sky, wishing I could grow wings and fly. Every morning I longed for something else. A different world. A beautiful world. One where there was freedom, inside and out.
Eventually, in 2010 I packed my bags, left my hometown Shanghai, and moved to Australia by myself hoping the world would be different. It wasn’t, because I was the same.
Every day in my office cubicle, I continued playing the good girl. I kept my head down and I worked hard. I played it safe, but deep down I still dreamt of something else.
My life was forever changed when I was introduced to the wonderful world of women entrepreneurs at a business networking event.
I saw glimpses of confident beautiful women who were running their own business with a lifestyle to match. It was like getting a blue Tiffany box from the Universe.
I saw the beauty I was looking for-
The beauty of choice.
The beauty of another way.
The beauty of a business is the path to truly living a life that has it all.
I was enlightened. I had a choice.
I was no longer willing to accept my desires as just a daydream.
Dare to be different. Dare to be courageous.
I started building my side hustles, immersing myself with personal development, working with business coaches and mentors, connecting with inspiring people
I’d be lying if I said building my business and brand was easy. The journey is “beautiful”, but it’s not always “pretty”. I have my doubts, fears, and insecurities popping up from time to time. When that happens and things get rough, I always remind myself why I started in the first place.
I started my branding and lifestyle studio because I adore designing beautiful things and nothing brings me more joy than creating a beautiful brand for other female entrepreneurs and help them turn their dreams into reality, one brand at a time.
I quitted my high-paying corporate job as a Chartered Accountant because I want to wake up every day with passion and excitement, do what lights me up and utilize my full potential and talents; have the flexibility and freedom to do it whenever and wherever I want; surround myself with like-minded talented and inspiring people.
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
I started building my side hustle while I was working full time in my corporate job. I tried several business ideas until I found my “Sweet Spot Business Idea”.
Whether you realize it or not, you have your special “zone of genius”. It’s that gift, talent, skill, or ability that sets you apart from everyone else. It’s the thing that no one else can do quite like you.
I found my sweet spot business idea, which is the perfect intersection of what I love (creating beautiful things and turning visions into visuals), what I am good at (stylish design and high-end branding) and what the world needs (branding and design services for female entrepreneurs).
I always love beautiful designs. Even when I was working in business advisory services, I enjoyed designing beautiful spreadsheets and presentations.
Although the first side hustle I tried was health coaching, I got all the compliments from other people for my chic beautiful branding, design, and website. And people started asking for my services in branding and design.
They loved my branding and website and wanted it for themselves too. Once I find my sweet spot, I have a much clearer vision of my path and it becomes much easier for me to move from doubt and fear into confidence and action.
And I started to invest in courses and education that helped me build my expertise in branding. I just came back from Paris, where I did a summer course in luxury business and branding.
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
Launching a side hustle is not a small project. So I break it down into bite-sized projects with timeframes. I also treat my side hustle as a “business”, not a “hobby”.
I mapped out a proper business plan, including the finances and taxes part. As I was launching my side hustle while I am still at 9-5, I specifically planned how to make my day job work for me.
Everyone’s situation is different. I was working full time as a Chartered Accountant while building my side hustle for several years before I finally left my full-time job.
I decided to do that because this way, I have a steady income to support myself while building my side hustle and I don’t have to spend all the time and energy to find a new job and fitting into the new environment.
When I start stepping into my new entrepreneur identity and building my dream business, I realized how vital it is to stay in action.
Doubt and fear are a normal part of the process. But I can’t let these emotions paralyze me; I need to get into action anyway. I worked with mentors and coaches to follow the proven success strategies to keep myself moving forward no matter what — and begin building a habit of massive daily action.
Some of the actions I took at my initial stages include:
- Work on my mindset and personal development daily
- Determine my business name and structure
- Register for an Australian Business Number
- Identify my top 3 core values of my business
- Get crystal clear of my ideal client
- Create my offers and pricing
- Know my unique selling point (IPS) and create my elevator pitch
- Create a Moodboard for my visual brand identity
- Create a main logo, alternative log and submark
- Choose my brand fonts and colors
- Create your own website using my visual brand identity
- Update my existing social media profiles
- Set up a professional email with branded signature
- Define my brand message
- Let people know I am in business
After I identified my sweet spot business idea, I started the business with the offer of branding and website design. I offered some free sessions and low-price services in the beginning in order to build my portfolio.
I got great testimonials from all my clients and gained more confidence in my side hustle. I started to increase the price of my services and plan my corporate exit date. Once I decided to give myself 6 months before quitting my job, I was committed to it and spread the word among my friends to ask for support to make it happen.
Below is the email I sent to them. From that email, I get several clients and the business started to get more momentum and referrals coming, which helped me successfully quitted my job 6 months later.
I hope that this finds you super well.
As you may know that it’s been a while working both my full time job and nurturing my new side-hustle of branding and design. And I’m beyond excited to let you know that I will to leave my current job within the next 6 months and pursue this full time!
Crazy? Maybe. But as you know, I just love creating beautiful things and it lights me up!
I’d love and appreciate your help in making this happen by spreading the word!
So if you or anyone you know is looking for branding or website design, please reach out, and I’ll be happy to help!
Being in the early stages I’m offering super affordable packages for brand styling, branding design and website design, which my clients have loved so far. You can check my Instagram story highlights for some of my client testimonials and the design work I have done. 🙂
Thank you so much in advance ***, wish me luck – I know it’ll be an incredible journey! And thank you for your support along the way!!
From my heart to yours,
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
I focused on creating a customer experience from on-boarding to completion of the project, and even after the projects are ended (e.g sending launch gifts and birthday surprises, etc).
And then creating and practicing an effective referral system. 80% of my clients come from client referrals and word of mouth.
20% of sales come from my website and social media, where potential clients are attracted by my branding and design style when they land on my online presence.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
As mentioned above, after leaving my hometown Shanghai, and moving to Australia by myself, I eventually quit the 9-5, growing my Elva Li branding and lifestyle studio piece by piece, with heart and soul.
I wasn’t done there: I continued growing the business to 5 figure months; I wanted to give back and co-founded the Impact the Future Giving Circle charity fund, and I am in the process of launching a social enterprise.
Besides continuing adding more value to my 1:1 high end Femme Brand Experience, next year I will launch my group program to serve more of my soul sister clients and create a high frequency circle to support them.
I am excited about sharing my gifts with the world by helping my soul sister clients not only create but to live their brand with soulful femme alignment, shine bright as who they really are, and create real impact, income, and freedom! The world is a better place because you are in it! ❤
What you can expect to see from me in the next 12 months:
- I’ll be working with a limited number of 1:1 clients, to help them elevate their brand and step into their next level with elegance and ease.
- I’ll launch a mastermind + mentoring program to help a small group of clients gets clarity of their Femme Brand essence, feel confident about their brand online, land high-end clients, and position their business in the category of one.
- I’ve been working on my fashion and lifestyle brand to support women’s living in beauty, freedom, and in alignment with their femme brand.
- I am planning a few intimate FemmeBrand in-person events in beautiful inspiration places.
- And, there are some other beautiful projects that I feel aligned in the works that I’ll share later.
As I consistently step into my next level, I invite my soul sisters along the way. To transform my own life and their lives at the same time and receive love, abundance, joy along the way. Next is the creation of my fashion and lifestyle brand, watch this space!
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
I see my business as part of my feminine-led living. I do my business in an aligned feminine way, use a holistic framework, and infuse feminine ritual to my soul-centred business.
I have been working with my business mentor on a mental, material, emotional and spiritual level, allowing me to find alignment between myself and my business and tap into my natural state of flow: where I found the opportunities, material successes, and a deeper sense of fulfilment.
I have leant how to balance the masculine (“go” or ”Yang”) and the feminie (“flow” or ”Yin”) essence in my business.
I now allow more “flow” into my business and let go of a business model that is based on extreme effort, people-pleasing, and burnout. I set my boundaries and choose what I am available for and what I am not available for.
What tools or services did you use?
- Google G suite: professional email.
- Acuity Scheduling: scheduling my appointments.
- Asana: project and team management.
- Screenflow: Make videos, record my screen.
- Squarespace: website.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: design software.
- Wistia: Video Hosting for Business: video hosting.
- Planoly: Instagram scheduling and posting.
- Zoom: online meetings.
- Dropbox: sharing files.
What are your key challenges today? How are you planning to tackle those?
Over the years, I have been continuing peeling back the layers of conditioning , the idea that I was to be a pleasant, proper, professional, to look a certain way, act a certain way, and do my business in a certain way.
Everything looked “perfect” from the outside, but I was feeling like a fraud on the inside. The essence of my soul was locked up tight under layers and layers of who I thought I “should” be.
I have evolved. Now I only create and give in the ways that are truly aligned for me. I do the work, charge the rates and receive in the ways that feel true for me.
Now my signature Femme Brand Experience is $20,000 and I work with my soul sister clients who are soul-hearted and have amazing high frequency.
And, I am still evolving – as we always do. There’s beauty in becoming.
Life is lovingly guiding you towards all of the areas that need to be released, removed, and healed, in order for you to step into your highest vision and mission.
Some of these lessons will come up again, and I believe that they do when we need to deepen our relationship ourselves and to embody the “next level” – a philosophy that now guides my whole business.
There are still times I feel my business and brand no longer align with who I’ve become; like I know I am meant for more but have no idea what “more” looks like.
But now I know how to bring myself back to alignment and constantly step into my “next level”. Now I know that the only way to receive what I desire is to be who I truly am.
If you are on this journey of evolving and stepping into your next level, I see you. I am on this journey with you.
One of my favourite rituals I use to bring myself to alignment every day is my “Goddess Hour” every morning.
I learned it from my business mentor Victoria Fox and now I do it every day. I start my mornings with 1 hour to myself each day, just for me.
It is a time to feel my vision coming to life, to move, create, go inwards, and connect with the magic of my body. This hour sets the energy for my entire day and is a devotional practice.
I do whatever creative and feminine practices I like in this time: art, meditation, yoga, dance, writing, walking, time in nature.
It’s not a time for consuming content from the outside world such as the internet, social media messages, or books — it’s a time to express what is in me.
I dance to at least one song every morning to allow my body to move me. Embodiment (being in our body and particularly our womb space) is an important part of feminine-led living.
Which are some resources, books, articles, or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
“Light is the new black” by Rebecca Cambell: The book inspired me to answer my soul’s highest calling, keep my creations potent, align my business to my soul and scale it in a way that is sustainable, so I can create a life’s work, not a season.
The Wild Woman’s Way by Micaela Boehm: great book to learn to switch effortlessly between the masculine “go-mode” and the feminine “flow-mode”.
PurposeFULL: 10 Steps to Overcoming Fear & Living Your Dream Life by Melissa Ambrosini: a manual book to help you infuse meaning and purpose into everything you do and rediscover your joy
Many times, women feel that businesses are only for men. What’s your take?
I see more and more female entrepreneurs out there than ever before, serving others, achieving their goals, and making impacts in the world by creating their soul-led business.
As one of my mentors says, “The women who take the first step – even if they are scared, even if they don’t know what they are about to go through, even if they think they can’t – are the women who change the world.”
It’s time to let go of the self-doubt, playing small and impostor syndrome, and step into your new identity as a high-frequency, high earning-entrepreneur.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi! This is Misha?
I interview women founders in building profitable businesses??
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.