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Interview with Esma Ilyas CEO of Crybaby and Ivory Ella

It was a pleasure interviewing Esma Ilyas, CEO of Ivory Ella and Crybaby. A humbled business woman who had big dreams while growing up and is now running two successful clothing brands. ♥

Below are the links to Ivory Ella and Crybaby, go check them out! (:

1. Tell us about your background and how life was growing up

My family brought us over to America (from Turkey) when I was 4 years old. Things were completely different. My dad tells me stories about struggles he faced when he first came here - since he took a risk and left his country with absolutely nothing. He worked his way up to lower-middle class and always did his best to provide for us. Growing up there was always struggles here and there but I am grateful for everything that has happened for making me who I am today and appreciating my family for everything they’ve done for us.

2. Tell us about Ivory Ella

Ivory Ella is an online clothing store that sells clothing and accessories, donating a portion of proceeds to the nonprofit organization, Save The Elephants: specializing in wildlife conversation of elephants. 

3. What inspired you to start Ivory Ella?

Besides always having a love for elephants… I had a few friends from the social media that I worked with and we brainstormed ideas and thought that this would be the next biggest thing. We mixed their skills with mine and next thing you know, it went viral. 

4. What was the hardest part about starting your own


In the beginning it’s hard to continue and stay focused. I had absolutely no idea how to run a business or anything about it. I ran to a lot of bumps and it also interfered with my social, family, and school life As long as you want it bad, stay focused and get through it - you will succeed.

5. Do you wish you did anything differently?

Definitely not. I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m a very ‘go with the flow’ kind of girl.

6. What’s one advice you would give someone wanting to start

their own brand?

Please don’t try to juggle too much at once. Set one goal, accomplish it, and then move onto the next.  When I got busy I would try to do a lot of things in one day. I put less energy and focus to get things done quicker but it’s so much better to put your all into one thing and make it the best.

7. What was the best part for you once you started this brand? \

Not having to work for someone else is great. I can’t imagine doing that, but that’s also the type of person I am. Also, seeing your creations on people in public or even celebrities wearing them is such a good feeling.

8. Do you see yourself opening shops for this clothing line

anytime soon? 

I actually do not, yet. I love how things online are but I definitely want to do a Pop-Up shop soon though! If that does do well, who knows!

9. How did you come up with the name Ivory Ella?

Creating names is one of my favorite parts of brand building. I was brainstorming for a few days and it finally came tp me… the idea was so simple but it hit me. Ivory is the white substance composing the main part of the tusks of an elephant. This is what the poachers go after and what we’re trying to stop. Ella seemed like a cute and short name for ‘elephant’. I played this name over and over in my head for a few days and then fell in love. 

10. When was it that you started to see growth in the


The first day. It was a huge success and we were blown away. We were sold out of everything and as I remember, every time we dropped another item it sold out within minutes.

11. I see that you also have another clothing brand called

‘crybaby’ tell us about that brand

I wanted something for myself for a long time now. I’ve been brainstorming this brand for almost 2 years and finally made it live a year ago. It’s just a “me” brand. A place where I can create whatever I want to but also interact with customers on a different level than most other brands.

12. What’s your favorite piece from crybaby?

The Signature Crewneck. One of the first pieces I made. It’s a simple crewneck that’s extremely thick and soft to keep you warm (since I live in NY and launched in winter, it was the perfect piece).      

13. What’s your inspiration when creating clothing for


Vintage inspired, edgy, “IT girl”. I also get inspiration from, literally everywhere. I’ll be watching a TV show or a movie, go out to the city, or just scroll through Tumblr.

14. Top five celebrities you want to see wearing your


Ariana Grande (just completed that!) Selena Gomez, Nina Dobrev, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, so many to name!

15. How is it running two successful brands?

If I had to pick a word it would be surreal. 

16. How did you come up with the name crybaby?

I was literally stressing over names for the longest time ever. Probably 6 months. I hated everything I had and I was actually crying haha! I remember one night I thought of crybaby and had been thinking of it for a few days but was afraid of peoples reactions. Before I told anyone the name I had to present it to everyone in a way that it’s okay to cry and that crying is positive. All of my friends and family immediately loved it. 

17. When did you know you had a passion for fashion?

I guess always. Growing up I was the “stylish” one. I remember I would draw clothes and just loved everything about them. I actually have this vivid memory of me showing my mom the drawing I did of a cute tennis outfit and I even had the price tag on them! But the weird part is I never wanted stressed to anyone that I wanted to be a fashion designer or anything related to fashion. It was more of a hobby. I actually wanted to be a lawyer.

18. What are you most looking forward to in the next 10


Just really trying to get crybaby the biggest it can be!

19. Where are the most interesting places you’ve traveled


Definitely Cappadocia. One of the prettiest and interesting places ever.

20. How different was your life before owning your clothing


Pretty different. I was kind of a loner growing up. I definitely grew out of my comfort zone. I meet a lot more people now, love to network, am always busy and extremely hard working now.


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