Differentiate and Dominate! An important lesson from Missoula Business Owner, Elena Ulev

You may have heard of Mrs. Elena Ulev’s other business, Hummingbird Designs- a real Missoula mainstay, with 10 years of jewelry sales at markets, arts and craft shows, and in local retailers. But in 2008, when HummingbirdMontana entered the online sales community Etsy.com, it soon became clear that Elena would need to differentiate from her competiton. “I did not have much success selling my jewelry on Etsy and was quite disappointed…” Elena says. “I thought I would give Etsy another try with my jewelry organizers because they are unique, and I figured that there might be less competition compared to jewelry.”  


What Elena and her husband Seth developed is a truly problem-solving work of art. Built like a screen frame and mounted on a wall, the beautiful organizers are a perfect blend of form and function, keeping jewelry organized, beautifully displayed, and most importantly- out of children’s reach. These clever displays are also handy for showing off original work at shows and markets!

After five years of successful offline sales of these jewelry organizers, Elena had proven her hunch was right.  And so, just this December, she came back on the Etsy.com scene with Eventyr Woodworking. “ We are excited but a bit nervous to see what will happen with our little shop. ‘Eventyr’ means adventure in Norwegian and my husband and I are indeed on a creative adventure.

These days, Elena’s two young children are first priority. Still, she looks forward to building her business further. “As they get older, I might explore more ways to get connected and increase sales.” When asked about her greatest challenge, she explained that the fast pace of the internet, with its social networks and constant innovations, has been overwhelming. “I’d rather sell my product face to face at a market or show than someone over the Internet but I have to keep up with the times, I guess.” I’m sure this is a sentiment that many of us share!

“What I love most about making my jewelry organizers is having a creative outlet and time to myself in the woodshop. Being a mom takes so much energy and the ways that I replenish that energy are spending time outdoors and being creative indoors. I'm thrilled that people like what we have created!”

Elena’s advice to the aspiring businesswoman: “Get exposure. The more people see you and your products, the better.




This is the first installment in my latest series: "I Love My Job: Stories of Real Missoula Business Owners" Read more about this series and how to be featured here. Thanks for reading! It's easy to get Songbird's Branch delivered to your inbox. Just see the "follow by email" button on the sidebar! Never stop learning, growing, and reaching. 


Content by Laura Gabriele