Instagram is a funny place. It is totally its own world, sometimes a total time waster, and home to more pictures of latte art than any other corner of the internet. But, every once in a while I find a gem of an account and enjoy following along and learning more about the person behind it. Leslie has absolutely killer style and a great eye, just check out her feed to see what I mean. If I had to pick one person who I would design clothes around it would definitely be her. The girl knows how to layer and play with different silhouettes like a pro, so it should come as no surprise that she is also a designer herself. I asked her a few questions to learn more about her design process and what makes her tick, check them out below and see how she styled the Madelyn Wool Coat:
How did Leslie Medlin Design House get started?
I started a business when I graduated from college in 2010, not knowing exactly what my future held, but knowing that I ultimately wanted to be working for myself and putting new things & ideas out into the world. I called it Doorkeeper Threads, and it was just kind of there as I began to venture into my dream of designing clothes. But I really wasn't running a business until 3 years later when I began consistently making things on the side of working in small business retail and trying to sell them at the local farmer's market. All the while I was also taking on consulting & contract visual merchandising work. After a year of doing all three of those all the time, I realized I was finally ready to dive into full time entrepreneurship. That's when I developed the idea of Leslie Medlin Design House, the concept of using an umbrella name for the different types of creative design work I do. I rented a studio space in downtown Waco, and starting designing products while I continued to work with small businesses to do visual design. Those have continued to be equal passions of mine, design & merchandising. I just love how they both work together to create a world inside of selling beautiful things. My husband and I moved last year after 10 years of living in Waco, Texas, and we landed here in Raleigh, North Carolina, not really knowing what the future of my business would continue to be. But it's been amazing to find that there is a growing community of artists, entrepreneurs, and designers here to work alongside as I continue to develop my business.
What are some of your biggest sources of inspiration?
I feel like the myriad of women I know + the women I admire across the vast world of social media are the two things that continually inspire me. I love how women mix their realities with their dreams; how they have their every day life and also this dream life that influences how they dress. I love the different stages of a woman's day -- waking, working, eating, dating, partying, relaxing -- and thinking about how to create images & clothes that weave through all of those stages.
I've also always been highly influenced by fabrics & colors. Just seeing a great & unique color sends my imagination spinning into visions of beautiful wares.
Describe a typical day at work and a typical day off:
Typical to a lot of artists/entrepreneurs, my schedule differs highly from day-to-day. It's not always a good thing per se, but I am a person that thinks in about 10 different directions at once, so each day is really dictated by the things I feel most prominently in the front of my mind. I try to wake each day and do simple things that energize me & refresh my mind. I like working out in the morning whenever I can, making breakfast, sometimes reading -- often too much scrolling (trying to break that habit...). But there are a lot of days when I just need to get out of the house and grab coffee somewhere in order to get me going. I try to get in a good 5-6 hours of non-stop focused work each day. That can mean anything from meeting clients or colleagues, sewing in my studio, running errands, or just trying to respond to emails. On a busy week, or as a project is nearing completion, you'll likely find me working more like 10 hours and staying up late. Trying to not let that happen too often...but I just work well under pressure.
My days off are mostly spent getting quality time with my husband, Ryan. Our work lives are very different and often our schedules have totally different work hours, so we try to use the weekends or off days to enjoy simple things like movies, discovering more of our new city, or eating out with friends.
But I will not deny that often my work and off days are similarly filled with the same things -- working with coffee, taking pictures for instagram, researching on blogs & websites, trend-searching, and reading books that inspire me.
What are 5 things you can't live without?
1. Friends/community/my husband -- I love doing life with others, and especially when I'm locked in my studio sewing day after day, I have make to a lot of time to be with the people I love
2. Clothes/beautiful things all around me -- I have just decided that it is not horribly materialistic of me to love surrounding myself and my life with things that make me dream, come alive, and bring me joy. Obviously I have to curb my shopping tendencies, but I truly feel like the clothes and trinkets of my life are what make the pieces of my story have meaning. They are like snapshots of a life well-lived.
3. Vanilla coffee, pizza, and chips & queso -- the three things I consume most often.
4. Movies -- they are my free time & break time indulgence.
5. Fabric -- I always want to have an abundance of it to create with
Who are some of your favorite style icons?
I'm not ashamed to say that I go back to the Olsens time & time again to remind myself that effortless is always the way to go. They wrote the book on mixing effortlessness with eccentric in layering & oversized silhouettes. These are the core of my design aesthetic, so they are a timeless inspiration.
I've also long been into supermodel,Twiggy from the 60's (and her real name is Leslie!) -- her boyish charm is totally adorable & she made way for a huge shift in women's street style.
And thanks to Instagram, I have learned a lot from women all over. a couple of my biggest influencers currently are @lauren_caruso, @thefrocknyc, @brittanybathgate, and @ashleyturchin
What's up next for you?
I have an ongoing project with Gather Waco, an upcoming curated kitchen goods store in Downtown Waco, Texas, where I sell a line of fine kitchen linens -- napkins, tea towels, etc. It's been a fun design project that diverted from clothes, but still has the quality of design and manufacturing that makes up the core of my aesthetic. Her store will be opening in the spring, and I'm excited to continue developing more products for her. @gatherwaco ||| gatherwaco.com
But, to be honest, as I've been dreaming about this next year, I feel that it's time for me to pull back from taking on multiple projects at once and really focus on designing clothes. That has always been at the core of what I want to do, but it has also felt the farthest away from what is really possible. I have had products for sale on and off for a couple years, and I'm ready to create wearable things for the long term. So I will be slowing down my every day over the next couple of months and taking time to design freely, and hopefully begin a core collection and see what comes of it. The risk has felt big, but I know its what I´m made to do, so it´s time to go for it and not look back or let anything get in the way.