Lina Ravelojaona | Founder of SOOALA
Lina is the founder of SOOALA, a marketplace with handcrafted goods, many of them from her home country of Madagascar. She believes that the most important skill needed to become an entrepreneur is to know yourself (and your strengths and weaknesses), is inspired by Canada, and credits her mom for her resilience and feminist side. Read on to find out more about this incredible woman.
How do you describe what you do?
I see what I am doing as one way for me to do some of the good I want to see in the world and share the values I believe in. My online store is a marketplace where people can find exclusively handcrafted goods, made out of natural raw materials endemic to Madagascar (for some of them). It's a way to share a piece of a very unknown country, but it’s also a way to help local artisans and support them; and last but not least it’s a way to promote conscious consumerism and natural products on the market.
Is there a career (or personal) accomplishment you’re proud of?
I am most proud of the work I have done to be able to be where I am right now in my business. It was a lot of work on my personal development and you accomplish a lot in terms of personal growth. I feel like I am just at the beginning. No matter what the outcome of the business is, it’s a win.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to become an entrepreneur?
I believe that entrepreneurship is a very personal journey. I have spent a lot of time looking for outside answers on how to be successful in the things that I am trying to build and though this has helped me in some ways, I also realized that it’s really something personal - your very own path if you wish.
So based on my personal experience and with that being said, I would say that the top 3 skills needed to be an entrepreneur is knowing yourself and be clear on who you are, what you want, what you are good at and what you are not good at.. That would be my number one. Then, resiliency would come second - because entrepreneurship ain’t be that cute thing you do when you get bored; and last I would say problem solving - you have to thrive in that (lol).
Where is your favourite destination in the world?
This is such a tough question because everything, every place and every person I encountered in my life, I have always found something positive (or something I loved in that specific thing, person or place). So just for the sake of answering the question, I would go for Madagascar :D
Which country have you traveled to that inspired you most?
I would say Canada, and that's a piece of news for me (lol). I am just realizing it while answering the question actually! I have been to so many places and even lived in some of them; great cities in Europe, Africa, Asia, the US; but there is something with Canada that I can’t explain - it’s probably a mix of small different things, that really inspires me.
Is there an adventure that changed your life?
Yes, definitely. My first time in the US. I just shifted. I came back home completely overexcited (I was still living in Madagascar at that time) - I wanted to do things, I wanted to try things. I can’t explain, it was overwhelming but in a good way and the timing of our move to Canada was perfect, because it was just a year after that first time.
What’s an adventure you’re excited to take?
A trip to discover a country with a bunch of friends I love to hang out with and with my sisters!. Each time I have visited a country, it was always for business or to study. It would actually be great to travel and purposely have fun.
What’s your favourite way to recharge/relax?
Without any hesitation listening to music. When I do that, everything is gone, it’s a very efficient way for me to clear my mind.
Is there a book that’s changed your life?
Oh there are a few; but I would say Start with your Why - Simon Sinek. I love this guy and his narratives. It changed how I think about doing business but also how I do things on a personal level as well. Great book!.
Is there a cause you’e passionate about?
I think social justice and women’s condition in society - they are kind of linked but as far as I can remember, I have always felt the necessity to do better and be better (faster also) towards the issues surrounding these causes. Particularly when it comes to women’s condition, when I think of us being in 2020 and so many countries around the world (Madagascar first in mind) where women are still abused, mistreated, underestimated and are not accessing certain things just because of their gender - it’s unbelievable; with all the advancements we know - it’s unbelievable to me.
Do you have a piece of jewelry that’s sentimental to you?
I most certainly do. My mom was a jewelry person, she barely wore makeup, never treated herself with anything but jewelry. I just wish I could ask her why jewelry? She was a very important person in my life, she inspires me everyday even though she is gone. My feminist side comes from her. My resiliency is something she taught me. I have seen her start things from scratch and be successful in what she did. She gave me one of her sets of jewelry (matching earrings, ring and necklace). The ring is always with me.
Jewelry Lightning Round:
Silver or Gold? Gold!!
Chunky or Dainty? Oh my god both, it will depend on my mood. But I would wear chunky earrings and always something more discreet for rings and necklaces though!.
Chain necklace or pendant necklace? Pendant.
Huggies or oversized hoops? Both too!!
Signet ring or stacking ring? Stacking ring.
Where can people find you?
@_soo.ala for on instagram page
@sooala.mdg on facebook