Ewelina Pankowska, Reforest Design, Salt Spring Island
Ewelina Pankowska’s business mission is to save forests through her creative designs. The idea for a wood-free, upholstered furniture manufacturing company came to her after she saw discarded furniture on city streets on numerous occasions. This motivated her to launch Reforest design in Salt Spring Island.
Reforest Design offers a sustainable furniture line with a signature modular system that could be applied to all upholstery styles; this includes chairs, sofas, benches, ottomans, futons and more. The materials consist of sustainably manufactured pressed bamboo, and upholstery that combines 100% natural latex foam with natural or recycled fabrics. The signature modular system allows for easy repair, endless customization and longevity.
Q. What services has Women’s Enterprise Centre provided you and how have these services helped you?
A. The only barrier between my ideas and success was funding. For 5 years I designed and developed prototypes, wrote a 90-page business plan, learned about and worked within my industry, but had no financial support to start my business. WEC believed in my ideas, acknowledged my work, and recognized my passion to create. With WEC funding, my biggest dream has come true!
Q. What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
A. I have always wanted to make a positive change on critical environmental issues, by doing what I do best, design. I learned that working for myself is the only way I could express my creativity and make my crazy ideas come to fruition.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you learned when starting your business?
A. Not everything goes as planned and things can get really slow sometimes! Instead of sticking to a rigid structure, I have learned to flow with the changes & challenges and do my best with what is available.
Q. What are your goals for the business?
A. I can’t wait to get people excited about furniture! I want to create awareness of environmental issues through my designs. I want to offer a huge collection of fabric upholstery for customization and repair. I am also developing an online trading post for modular cushions so you could trade them like Pokémon cards if you need a change of scenery, and a recycling program for those that don’t make it.
Q. What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur?
A. I love being organized. Not only do I colour co-ordinate sticky-notes and label each pad with a category, but I find pleasure in physically crossing off each task, it’s so satisfying! There are many online programs designed for organizing tasks, notes, ideas, orders etc. but I learned I need to ‘stick’ to what works best for me.
Q. What personal lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
A. Be patient, present, kind and don’t take everything too seriously. Humor, music, and yoga are my business partners.