This prominent lawyer working for large financial institutions for nearly 15 years, Sonja Salmon has traveled the world but struggled to find the type of stylish suitcases that she liked and that could endure her lifestyle of traveling.
Since the search for such luggage grew grim, Salmon decided that she wanted to and should create her own line. And so, a dream was born and the story goes as such….
When Sonja Salmon launched her luxury travel brand, she was already used to being underestimated. This only made her more determined to be a success.
(FastCompany) Sonja Salmon just wanted luggage that looked good and allowed you to easily find your belongings. It turns out, it wasn’t that easy to find. As a corporate executive who had worked her way up in Canada’s finance industry, Salmon was constantly on the road. She needed to look polished at meetings, but this was hard to pull off when she had to squeeze everything into a miniscule carry-on.
In 2014, she decided to create her own luggage company, Ebby Rane. The suitcase she designed was reminiscent of elegant steam trunks of the past, but it had all the functionality of a modern wheeled hard-shell case. And importantly, each bag came with its own set of coordinating packing cubes and cases, so that travelers could pack more into the bag and find what they needed quickly. They also made the inside of the suitcase look tidy and organized.
It would have been a gamble for anybody to leave a stable career in finance to launch a travel startup. But for Salmon, that risk was bigger, because there are so few black entrepreneurs in the world of luxury fashion. She expected that it would be harder to break in, get VC funding, and even manufacture products because she would stick out in the industry.
“The barriers to entry in this business are high, and this alone makes it challenging to enter and compete,” she says. “The luggage and travel accessory industry is a fast-growing sector, and black business owners are notably absent.”
But these concerns didn’t stop her. In fact, a career of being underestimated in the workplace had taught her to have a thick skin and push forward with confidence. Here she shares her journey of launching Ebby Rane, and advice for other black entrepreneurs who have hesitations about launching a business.
4 Things To Know About Sonja Salmon
Must-have travel piece
“You’ll never find me without a cashmere pashmina; it does triple duty as a blanket on the plane, a scarf with my trench coat and a shawl for the evening.”
Other must-pack items
“My iPad Mini; I love it because I can handle emails, watch videos and have video conference calls. Also, The 1887 Clutch; I used to be caught flat-footed on business trips when someone would invite me to dinner and I would be taking this huge bag because it was the only one I had, now I always have my clutch.”
Favourite Canadian spot
“The Cabot Trail is just one of the best-kept secrets in Canada.”
“I love Jamaica; my family is Jamaican. If you go into the interior [of the country] and you see some of the natural beauty, it is literally breathtaking. Also, I lived in Bermuda for almost eight years and absolutely adored it.”