Elise MacDonald is a student, a track and field varsity athlete, and an entrepreneur, founding Tebua Macrame in her teens and finding success through connection.
Hi! My name is Elise MacDonald. I’m a 21-year-old student in my third year of university at the University of Waterloo. I’m studying Anthropology and am a member of the Varsity Track and Field team. Outside of school, I’m the founder of Tebua Macrame. This is my story.
I created my macrame business at the age of eighteen as a way to earn money to save up for one of my passions: travelling. I’ve always had dreams of travelling the world. After returning from a trip to Europe with some friends during high school, I was hooked! I thought that creating my own business would be a great way to gain income on the side, allowing me to return to travelling ASAP. Originally, I started out making Tebua jewellery with my sister, Tessa. The name Tebua originated from the combination of my sister’s name, Tessa (T); my name, Elise (E); and “bua,” meaning victory or blessing in Gaelic. The first attempt was a failure, but in the following years, Tebua became a blessing. My mom had suggested creating macrame. So, I bought rope and looked up YouTube tutorials. It clicked with me! Then came the hard part! How would I get people to like my work enough to spend their hard-earned money on it? This took a lot of patience and a lot of trial and error. I have always been a big dreamer — ask anyone close to me, and they know every week there’s a new adventure I want to pursue. But, for me, confidence has always been a limiting factor. Growing up, I was known as the “shy kid.”
Eventually, I would realize Tebua was not just a way to earn money, it would be my vessel to confront my inner doubts and empower myself. It became my way of learning how to believe in myself and what I have to offer to the world. I started to grow confidence through making sales here and there, learned how to advertise, and figured out what the heck a “niche market” is. I slowly picked up on macrame skills when I had the time, and even started creating and selling out of my dorm room in my first year of university. It wasn’t until last summer when I could really focus my efforts on Tebua, thanks to the circumstances of 2020. I created macrame almost every day, then posted my creations on Instagram, and soon people from different provinces and even different countries were contacting me about buying my work. They also offered me some words of encouragement. The small business community is like no other!
Through different connections and supporting one another, there are people online who I talk to regularly now, who have never met before. I try to weave my passion for justice into my business to make a difference in my community and amplify the voices that need to be heard. It’s so empowering as a young woman to have the ability to turn a vision into reality. I encourage anyone who is thinking about starting their own business to take the leap because you never know where it could lead you.