Entrepreneur of the Week

Awoke N’ Aware’s Kelly Saltzman and Cory Yefet on Their Fashion Label With a Cause

In this series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. This week, Awoke N’ Aware co-founders Kelly Saltzman and Cory Yefet on supporting eco-diversity through fashion.

The plan with Awoke N’ Aware is simple: keep the planet cool and look cool at the same time. With 15 percent of all profits from the company going to partnered wildlife organisations and ethically-sourced fabrics, the Toronto-based brand is bringing fashion to conservation. Starting out with extremely endangered rhinos, polar bears and elephants, the brand will soon expand to many other vulnerable species (also matched up to their icon designs).

“Knowing that we are making a difference [makes the hard work worth it]” Saltzman says. “Not just in apparel going into your closet, but more importantly in empowering our community to choose better for our wildlife and our planet.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Q & A

What do you enjoy most about the industry you’re in?

Putting together outfits is a daily ritual for millions of people, including ourselves. Contributing to an industry that encourages individuality and self-expression is incredibly rewarding. 

Best advice you have ever been given?

Make sure you create a company, brand, and product you really believe in. If you really believe in it and it’s authentic, people will want to be a part of it. 

What is one trait you have, that you find has attributed to your success?

Commitment. We are both very committed people and do what it takes to reach our goal. 

Who are your some of your role models?

We both come from entrepreneurial families. Learning from our parents successes, and analyzing their mistakes has allowed us to get to this point.

Blake Mycoskie — the founder of TOMS Shoes. We constantly look to him for inspiration. We love that he took his passion and made it his future.

What makes it all worth it?

Knowing that we are making a difference. Not just in apparel going into your closet, but more importantly in empowering our community to choose better for our wildlife and our planet. 

What long term goals do you have?

By 2020, we want to donate $50,000 to wildlife conservation. 


8AM-6PM: Kelly goes to the gym first thing in the morning followed by a LARGE coffee on her way to work. Cory switches things around, he wakes up and enjoys a coffee before heading off to work and goes to the gym in the evenings.

7PM-10PM: Once we both get home, around 7/8PM, we make dinner or eat some leftovers and get to work on ANA.

We love coffee chats. We are constantly meeting with other entrepreneurs, or successful business people to learn from them. But, what we love most, is spending our Friday evenings at one of our parents’ places for a big dinner. 

10PM-12AM: We turn off our phones, pack our gym bags for the next day, Kelly has a cup of hot water with lemon, Cory has a glass of cold water and we turn on the TV. 

Weekends: On the weekends, we get to spend the entire day(s) dedicated to ANA. With a long to-do list, it isn’t difficult to stay focused. If we get bored of one topic there is literally a bajillion other things to tackle. 

Sometimes, if we’re struggling to focus, we accept that it probably means our brains are exhausted and need some downtime. For example, work for 2 hours and get to watch an episode of the latest binge-worthy show (oops).



The Ivory Game

We always watch the Planet docs. But most recently, The Ivory Game was our favourite documentary. It really opened our eyes to Elephant poaching and how massive this issue has become. It’s really saddened us to see the detrimental impact humans have on our wildlife.

It was very impactful and a kick in the ass to really get Awoke N' Aware going. We want to change the way our world operates. Learning even more about the fight we’re fighting drove us to be bolder, louder and quicker in our drive to help save elephants. 



In terms of organizing myself, throughout the day, I email myself key tasks to work on that evening, and always have a list of priorities in my notes/ SlackWe are religious when it comes to our calendar… we basically schedule down in the 15 minute, we include meeting tasks, meeting context etc! We also use Evernote. This allows us to build shared to-do lists + individual lists all in one program.

It’s still something that we’re working on. But for now, our process is working!