‘I am not only (here) just for the business. I am also here because I want to be part of the community,’ says entrepreneur of her new business
Elena Villalba moved to Orillia just over a month ago, but she hasn’t wasted any time putting her interior design experience to work.
In mid-March, she opened Uptown Living, a new Mississaga Street furniture store featuring custom-made wares from Canadian furniture manufacturers.
Her store features living room sets, bedroom sets, office furniture, dining sets, and “anything that can go into a home.”
“I work with four different Canadian furniture manufacturers (that are) family-owned businesses, and they’ve all been in the business for over 30 years,” Villalba told OrilliaMatters. “Since I am a small store, I wanted to make sure that I was going to work with companies that are solid, and I know that they’re going to provide a good product.”
With over 15 years of experience in furniture sales and interior design, Villalba came specifically to Orillia from the Greater Toronto Area, with the hope of opening her own business that could serve Simcoe County and Muskoka.
“The main reason why I came here to Orillia is because I have so many clients from this part of Ontario that felt that for them to get something good quality, they will have to go all the way down to Toronto,” she said. “It is a perfect spot and it has a perfect feeling to do what I want to do.”
Uptown Living is her first business venture and an opportunity, she says, to showcase her skills.
“I guess when you are creative person, you always feel that you could do (it) better, so I felt that I could do things a little bit better and I felt I could fill that gap,” she said.
Beyond custom furniture, Villalba offers interior design services for commercial and residential purposes alike, and she said she works hard to fulfill client visions for their spaces.
“Most designers, they like to project their (own) styles on their designs,” she said. “I want the client to decide what (is going to) be projected in their home. I want it to be them, not me.”
Villalba said she is willing to work with customers and her industry connections to customize her inventory, and she plans to host a variety of options beyond what her storefront can hold on her website.
Originally from Panama, Villalba said she is excited to become part of the Orillia community.
For the past several months, she has been visiting and getting to know the area as she worked on finding a home for her business.
“I am not only (here) just for the business. I am also here because I want to be part of the community,” she said. “For me, I believe it’s very important to support the community, to be part of it, because if the community does well then I will do well.”