Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Coolest, Most Creative, Caring 17 Year Old Cleveland/Canadian Designer!

Last month, I attended the Smart Business Innovation Awards for work. Little did I know, I would meet Courtney den Elzen at the event and be completely blown away by her passion, focus and innovation! Courtney is the wonderful co-owner and visionary behind the design and accessory line called Wee Sang Designs.

Image source
Wee Sang Designs
"Wee Sang Designs is an eco-friendly and charitable design company out to make a difference in the world around us. Founded by high school aged sisters, Courtney and Hailey den Elzen, Wee Sang Designs was built upon the concept: Save Give Live. A commitment to save our planet, give to others, and live life to the fullest."

Courtney happened to attend the the Smart Business Innovation Awards as a student of Montessori High School in University Circle. The school, which opened in 2008, "provides a unique learning opportunity by combining experience-based developmental learning with formal academic disciplines, and partnering with University Circle Institutions as interdisciplinary resources to create an exceptional experience."
Photo source

The unique learning atmosphere, community involvement, and opportunity to develop her business drew Courtney from Canada to Cleveland last year. When asked why and how she made the big leap to the U.S. she simply stated, "I knew it was the right thing to do in order to get my business off the ground." Courtney's authentic style, sweet demeanor, generous heart and dedication to her business shook me to the core. I was completely inspired by how she outlined the mission of her business with such ease and articulation. Wow!
You rock, I rock
Photo Source

Courtney's love for fashion and sewing started as a young girl when her mother first taught her how to sew. As Courtney began to make new and cool products, her friends took notice and began asking her to make items for them too...and it took off. The great thing is, in Canada, they do not use disposable grocery bags in the store, so people must bring their own bags to do their shopping. Courtney saw the demand and went for it! She began making totes and bags from upcycled juice drink packaging.

Photo source: Duncan Field

Photo source: Duncan Field
Her popular Jammers line...
clearly we are a match made in heaven!
JAM will DEFINITELY be purchasing something from this line!
But wait, not only are the products awesome and upcycled, a portion of the proceeds benefit good causes! "Because helping those in need is just as important for us as protecting the environment: From each Wee Sang sale twenty percent of proceeds are donated to our two favourite charities: Kerr Street Ministries’ children’s programs for low income families in Oakville, Ontario and Free The Children’s water and sanitation projects in Sierra Leone." Yes 20%! These young ladies are truly tremendous!

Courtney den Elzen, co-founder of Wee Sang Designs, Recipient of YMCA Peace Medallion 2011

Wee Sang Design sisters Hailey and Courtney den Elzen

Courtney said it was great as a young female and entrepreneur in Cleveland. Her favorite hangout spot, when she's not busy working on her business or creating designs on her sewing machine, is the University Circle area. She frequents the Cleveland Museum of Art, walks around Wade Lagoon with friends, and finds inspiration in all the new construction and hustle and bustle going on in the Circle. We both are dying to check out MOCA! I feel some design inspirations coming onnnn!!!

Photo source

Courtney's school works diligently to pair students with opportunities in the community to learn and expose them to other small business owners. Her only hope for other female entrepreneurs is a specific network to foster business ideas and promote other women's businesses in the community. Especially as a budding entrepreneur, Cleveland lacks a specific network or online community solely dedicated to female entrepreneurs. But Courtney seeks as many ways to immerse herself in the Cleveland community, culture and character. She's involved in a new nonprofit in Cleveland that focuses on delivering positive, productive, confidence building workplace seminars called That Can Be Me. And is on a youth panel at the University School Entrepreneur Institute.

Photo source
May your dreams take you on positive adventures in CLE and beyond!!!

How can we connect Courtney to our cool CLE community? Let's do it! Spread the word my friends about this amazing business, positive cause, earth-friendly and fashionable product line!

Phone call to a best friend.
Photo source

So to all my CLE readers, eco-conscious colleagues, business buddies, female fashionistas, and mission based movers and shakers...seriously, you NEED to check out Wee Sang Design and like them on Facebook. I'm totally going to buy some of the JAMmer wine totes to give to my gal pals for the holidays. I'm helping spread the word because after meeting Courtney, corresponding with her, and chatting with her over lunch, I'm telling you--this girl has got it going on... goal-oriented, extraordinarily mature for her age, actively-engaged, creative, empathic, keen eye, and business savvy. What a pleasure to get to know this outrageously cool young lady. I hope to see her products in Cleveland stores soon!

1 comment:

  1. I had an opportunity to meet Courtney in CA earlier this year and loved her designs! I told her I wanted to use one to walk down the red carpet with! I am inspired by her creativity and fearlessness. I am proud to see someone go after her passion with power. Congratulations Courtney and thanks for writing the article.

    Warm Regards,

    Chrystee Pharris


Share your positive thoughts!