Everyone loves a good success story. They inspire and motivate those with aspirations for greater things. That’s why we like to shine a spotlight on small business stories to encourage others who own their own business or are considering starting a small business.

For this edition, we featured Elena Carnè, the founder of T31 Apparel, an activewear brand for women, men, and children. Elena’s story holds all the components of the classic “American Dream” tale. Twenty years ago, she immigrated to Miami, Florida from a small town in Venezuela as a political refugee, started her family and earned a college degree in fashion design.

Successful small business idea for T31

Like many other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic put T31 to the test. T31 heavily relied on trade shows and conferences to conduct business and the pandemic completely changed things so Elena had to adapt to keep her company afloat.

“I was determined to find a way to keep open when the pandemic hit. A local hospital called because nurses were making their own face masks at the hospital. So, we started making facemasks and mass producing - making 35,000 masks with employees and staff and donating them throughout the Southeast region. We gave those masks to first responders, nursing homes and The Navajo Nation with an emphasis on high-risk people and first responders. The Navajo Nation made me an official member for what we were able to do.”

Rather than be defeated by the challenges the pandemic brought her business, Elena saw an opportunity to pivot her enterprise in a new direction. T31’s primary focus shifted from making activewear to sewing and manufacturing products for other companies here in the U.S. which has helped T31 maintain its business growth.

Carnè credits her resourcefulness to her early years in her home country.

In Venezuela, sourcing materials was always very challenging. I embraced the way I was raised in Venezuela and used those skills to help overcome challenges the pandemic threw at us.”

When asked what competitive edge being a female business gave her, Carnè responded with authenticity. “I can be my entire self and I never feel left out by others - people embrace my culture and I can always be myself. I’ve been able to embrace my full self and bring that everywhere I go.”

As for advice for aspiring business owners looking for their own success, Elena emphasizes the importance of being flexible. “We need to use flexibility to adapt and overcome. The reason you start a business is because you really want to do it, not just for fun or to make money. I’ve always said this is my dream and I’ll do whatever it takes to further it. Persistence is always rewarded.”

How Elavon can help small businesses succeed

Elavon celebrates and supports diverse business owners. Whether you’re drafting out your business model or looking to expand your entrepreneurial ventures, Elavon is here to help. Contact us today for more information on how we can help your business with payment processing, point of sale systems, data security and more.


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