When we met Darielle Teitelbaum, we knew that we'd stumbled upon a woman with something special to offer Toronto's community of entrepreneurs. As Founder of boutique law firm, AWE Legal, she's learned how to combine her passion with her skills in order to provide value in a way that creatives, wellness professionals and athletes need to see their own businesses succeed. We're so excited to share her story and meaningful mission with the Work It Social community this Work It Wednesday!
1. First off, tell us a little bit about you! Who is Darielle Teitelbaum?
Darielle is an extremely curious and adventurous individual, always seeking new challenges in order to improve her mind, body and soul. She wears many hats and considers herself a creative lawyer, athlete, traveller, loyal friend, and devoted advocate.
2. What’s the story behind AWE Legal? What made you want to embark on a journey as an entrepreneur?
I never intended to be an entrepreneur to be honest, but I couldn’t find a business structure where I fit in. I found that in the very corporate environments I had to sacrifice parts of myself, mainly the creative parts, which did not serve me well in terms of my mental well-being. When I worked in more creative environments, I found that I was not always stimulated or it lacked the level of professionalism that aligned with my values. Therefore, out of necessity I created AWE Legal, a boutique legal service that caters to my community and aligns with the entrepreneurial lifestyle. I don’t wear suits, or count minutes according to a billable hour, instead I prefer to work on flat fees so that you know the expense up front. I foster connections, aim to educate my clients, and provide solutions to modern day issues. AWE stands for athletes, artists, wellness professionals and entrepreneurs. These are my niche service areas because these are my communities that I’m invested in and I’m passionate about all of these fields. I want to make law more accessible, less intimidating, and aim to provide an alternative to high price Bay St. lawyers without compromising the quality or service. I practice business law and intellectual property, and this year I’ve had a huge focus on providing legal education for entrepreneurs by facilitating legal workshops. My goal is for entrepreneurs to be able to take ownership of their businesses and feel competent negotiating for themselves. I truly believe that education is power and that law is an amazing tool to protect yourself and set your business up for success.
3. We absolutely love what you’re doing, given that seeking legal services can be intimidating - to new entrepreneurs especially! What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to have their business’ bases covered, but doesn’t know where to start?
That’s a great point, because I think the pitfall is when people think they need to do everything all at once. That way of thinking is really intimidating and often leads to nothing being done. I work with my clients to figure out what needs to be done immediately and then creating a plan for future legal work. I usually recommend to start with liability and ensuring protection by choosing the appropriate business structure. Then it may be a matter of having a few contracts in place and going from there. But I can’t stress enough that it is always better be proactive and have the proper agreements in place from the beginning, rather than scrambling to remedy mistakes after the fact.
4. Being an entrepreneur is like being a student for life. What’s a lesson you've learned recently about running a business?
Oh is that ever true! I’m constantly learning and to be honest, making mistakes is the biggest part of the journey. Recently I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, as horrible as it feels in the moment. In fact, mistakes are inevitable and it’s how we learn and grow. Someone recently told me after I was beating myself up about a mistake that if you take those mistakes to heart it’s actually a good thing because it shows that you truly care and won’t make that same mistake again. You need to give yourself permission to make mistakes and move on. Also, you can’t please everyone and sometimes people won’t like you, which is a tough pill to swallow. However, at the end of the day you have the right to make a living and to do so according to your own values.
5. Your services cater to individuals spanning all sorts of industries - from creatives to wellness professionals - what’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Yes, I’m really lucky to have worked with some amazing clients and brands. The most rewarding part for me is the connection I form with my clients. I am truly invested in their business/brand and I love getting updates or seeing on social media how they are succeeding and growing. I’ve also been able to form real friendships and have met other amazing entrepreneurs by supporting my clients and attending their events and likewise they’ve continue to support me and my endeavors. Authenticity is an asset, and I think when you care about someone and their work it shows and is usually reciprocated.
6. On top of running your own operation, you also work as a cycling instructor. We can only imagine what your schedule looks like throughout the week! What keeps you motivated?
I’m certainly busy, it’s true, but I’ve always operated best when I’m busy and have goals in place. Teaching cycling while launching my business has been amazing, as surprising as that may seem. The truth is, I think it’s really important to separate business from pleasure, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re constantly working on your brand. Having to teach forced me to carve out moments in my day that are not law related or business related, do something kind for my body. I always leave feeling rejuvenated by turning my ‘work-Darielle’ brain off and being able to step into a different role of ‘instructor-Darielle’. Even if you don’t teach or exercise, I think every entrepreneur ought to have a hobby or personal time set aside to develop an unrelated skill or simply to unwind and indulge in self-care. Personally, I have fitness goals, which keeps me motivated to want to exercise and as I said working out really does balance me, helps to de-stress and also keeps me sharp. All throughout law school I exercised and ran, and especially during exams (despite what others would think) because as I say this is when you need your mind to switch off and care for your body and soul.
7. What’s next for you and your business?
I’ve set my sights on running my first marathon in Chicago in the fall so that’s my major fitness goal for 2018. I also have some creative projects in the works, because as I said, I really find it helpful and important to nourish my other hobbies. I am a qualified speech and drama teacher and went to The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City, so I definitely want to dive back into some film and acting. In terms of my business, I definitely will be continuing my workshops and education branch of the brand. I also hope launch some sort of online resource for my community as well, making things even more accessible and facilitating community. I haven’t figured out exactly what that looks like just yet, so stay tuned! And eventually I’d love to collaborate more and grow my AWE team to better serve my clients and community.
8. How do you #workit everyday?
I #workit everyday by never settling or being complacent. I’m always trying to do more, learn more, and grow more. I strive to be a positive influence and to stay humble in order to keep improving.
We'd like to send a huge thanks to Darielle for sharing some of her insights with us this week. If you're seeking legal services for your business, or even just want to find out how to get started, you can find her on Instagram at @awelegal and on her website.