Have you ever awakened and try hard to grasp onto lingering wisps of a dream hoping to remember every detail more clearly, but it quickly blurs and slips through the tendrils of your mind? Several years ago I met Ellena LeJeune Smith and I liken dreamy experience to our first encounter. Like a dream that has become blurred, our business connection goes back to a timeline that has become unclear. But what I distinctly recall is how she made me feel - seen, heard, and appreciated and she still does.
Ellena LeJeune Smith is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and 1 of 9 children. She moved to
Huntsville, Alabama in 1987 to marry her sweetheart, Tom Smith III. Ellena and Tom have 1
daughter, Celine. While growing up in Birmingham, Ellena was an athletic, creative, and excelled academically. Both of her parents, Bernard & Josephine Persons, instilled in her the importance of putting God first in her life, holding weekly family bible studies and attending church regularly. This has proven to be the most valuable, priceless and foundational investment they could have ever made in her life, in which Ellena is extremely grateful.
For those who have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with Ellena agree that her quiet leadership exudes confidence as she seamlessly attracts others into her realm of influence. Stand back and watch, she can easily command a room and yet she leads with kindness, which goes against some business models. Her uncanning ability to perform with such high standards and recognizable graciousness appear to be unlimited. Her example is one that more business owners should make note of and emulate.
Because HLA Consulting readers are of a high caliber, I am sure you already gathered - Ellena is the founder of the Alabama Fashion Alliance (AFA) and one of Huntsville’s most talented sewers, makers and independent fashion designers in North Alabama.
Ellena has raised the bar when it comes to forging partnerships as she carefully curates her craft well. Recently, she linked arms with Redbird Boutique & Gifts, next door to University Pickers where you can shop the LeJeune Signature Collection right off the rack. However, with a personal consultation Ellena will bring your unique vision to life. If you secretly have a designers heart, but worry that you don’t know the differences of basting or backstitching, join one of her ongoing classroom style workshops. Before you know it it won’t be hard to imagine walking down mainstreet in your handmade and well thought out creative ensemble. Having a professional by your side, guiding and cheering you on every stitch of the way makes all of the difference.
As a community advocate, it is really no surprise how Ellena has beautifully knit her business model and passion with other leaders who make an impact in North Alabama. Dedicating an annual fashion event to local Leaders Who Inspire, she beautifully blends business, fashion and impactful charitable work together raising awareness for constituents. Among the many amazing leaders who have been nominated to participate, I am incredibly honored to be selected during the 2018 Leaders Who Inspire fashion event.
It was Ellena who encouraged me to believe even more-so in the vision for WIN (Women Who Inspire and Network) when I presented the idea to her. She excitedly began sharing ideas she too had and before we knew it, the concept successfully came together.
It is true that some ideas have evolved as it continues to increase momentum where women are supporting women in their passion, linking arms and building each other up. And it is exciting to see a community of business women grow and thrive in a safe space without judgement, but instead support and love.
Because of this, the first annual WIN Small Business Retreat launches January 17, 18, 19, 2020. We are thrilled to have powerful conversations in a conference setting where women can grow and build their business in a tangible, impactful, warm setting. Included with the conference is a vision board workshop, professional headshots, exercise, sunset nature-walk, and more. This event is a fantastic way to launch the 2020 vision God has given you for your business. Adding more value to the event, it is all inclusive with overnight accommodations and meals, plus the vision board workshop and conference.
As for my first encounter with Ellena, the details may have blurred, but it is clear that our friendship has grown and strengthened over the years. We are sisters in Christ, mothers who love fiercely, and believe in kindness and integrity as a cornerstone in our business model. We are friends linking arms to impact our community. We love others unconditionally and in the end not much else matters.
Ellena launched AFA in 2012 and is the recipient of various awards, accolades, recognitions and local media features. She is also the brainstormer behind many events and design ideas for her sewing students and small business clients. LeJeune has a genuine passion for sharing her industry experiences, welcoming the opportunity to become a resource to someone else’s journey to success in business, and in life.
AFA is a professional organization for the fashion design and beauty industries, creating event marketing platforms, workshops, networking and outreach initiatives to help businesses develop, grow and become positive beacons in their communities. Mostly run as an all-volunteer organization from its inception, the organization quickly took a turn in 2018 as a sought-after resource by individuals, professionals, and business owners pursuing careers in the fashion industry. Follow the Alabama Fashion Alliance on Facebook, Instagram and alabamafashionalliance.com
About HLA Consulting
HLA Consulting, located in Huntsville, AL home to NASA and the US Space & Rocket Center, provides high-level strategic communications and marketing services to local and national highly recognized firms and organizations. The HLA team takes pride in making businesses great by clear and concise messages where clients are always the super hero of their story.
About The Author
Angela Hawke was born and raised in Michigan. She now lives in Huntsville, AL with her family. She has her bachelor's degree in business - specializing in healthcare, she has years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and is philanthropic at heart. Angela owns HLA Consulting where she provides a wide variety of content writing to entrepreneurs. Her purpose is to encourage others in their God-given gifts, to appreciate their differences, and create intentional and genuine connections that honor God.