“If I love neon yellow, I am going to wear a lot of neon yellow and I am going to rock it… If you wear anything with confidence then you are pulling it off.” -Leslie Medlin
Anthem: So tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you went to school, what you like to do in your free time; stuff like that.
Leslie Medlin: So I grew up in Grapevine, Texas and in 2006 I moved to Waco to attend Baylor. I was a Fashion Design student and I graduated in 2010.
This is typical for most entrepreneurs, but my hobbies are based around the work that I do, that’s why I do it. I enjoy fashion probably most of all, and when I’m not working on selling or producing it, I do a lot of shopping. I love other brands and seeing what other people are doing right now; the ‘Zeitgeist’ if you will. So it’s not even an ‘I want this, I want this’ when I shop, it’s more of a ‘what are people doing?’ I also just enjoy so many other forms of art; art museums, paintings, photography, etc. Let’s see… I love cold weather and fall; I honestly don’t know why I’m still in Texas because I really enjoy fall weather. Lastly, I love marshmallows, all things vanilla, and Mexican food.
A: Where do you draw inspiration from on a day-to-day basis and who/what inspires your work?
LM: I pull inspiration from the different people, brands, and artists that I look at daily through Instagram; emails of the brands that I follow, those kinds of things. I think that the people that I see on the streets, and this is cliché, but what I see people doing and what they’re wearing definitely serves as inspiration to me. I have a lot friends who are creative, or work in creative jobs/entrepreneurs, or are people who are just like-minded and like-hearted, and we all hang out together. So I think I pull inspiration just from the people that I talk to, even those who have interests outside of fashion; I just get it from so many different things.
A: How did you come to think of Leslie Medlin Design House?
LM: I actually started the actual business when I graduated from Baylor and it was really just there to house the fact that I wanted to make things and sell them. At the time I called it Door Keeper Threads. I started selling scarves and other accessories that I made at the clothing store I was working for, Roots Boutique, and so I’ve been continually doing little things on the side while having part-time retail jobs for the past five years. I always wanted to do only my business, but I never really had the money to support myself doing just that. However I started selling scarves on a larger scale at the farmers market last fall and it got to the point where I was having to make so many that it became just too much to do with a part-time job on the side. At that same time retail space at Anthem became available and I had been wanting a space there for years because I’m really good friends with the Ellis’; they’ve been huge mentors to me as an entrepreneur. So all of that together and just a few close friends saying that maybe I should just branch off on my own encouraged me to finally decide to do that in January of this year. I decided to rebrand myself as Leslie Medlin Design House because I am not only marketing products, but also myself and my craft. I just felt as if it made more sense.
A: What lead you to Anthem?
LM: Summer Ellis was on the second floor of Roots boutique and so I kind of met Summer through that and we have just stayed friends ever since. I feel like we are like-hearted and I really look up to her. Once they acquired the Praetorian they encouraged me to get a space here. Cutting and sewing in your own house is great and all, but I had a difficult time separating work and home. So now I can separate it and I have a place where I can come and call my workspace and everything else is just everything else.
A: What does your day-to-day look like? If you can even pin a certain routine down with all that you do.
LM: I probably have the worst answer for this because I do so many different things. My day-to-day is absolutely nuts right now because I have about four different projects going on. It is mixed with the every-day errands of life and with ensuring that all the aspects of my business are taken care of. It is a mix of physically making things like scarves and Slayer and contracting; going painting, buying supplies, and meeting with the people I work for.
A: You have a lot going on, so how do you manage that/ decide what to take on?
LM: You would think five years into it, I would have that figured out but I don’t. I love getting behind other people’s visions and helping bring it to life, so when people approach me with these projects that will inspire me the most I will take them on. In the past I’ve taken on more than I should’ve because it was money, and well I needed money. But as far as managing things, that just isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m not very methodical, so I just take on things and I believe that somehow I can get everything done. I’m still learning what I can take on and what to say no to, so I can end up doing what I really want to do.
A: What is your favourite/ least favourite thing about your job?
LM: My favourite thing is seeing ideas come to reality. I love going through the process to make, not only mine but other people’s dreams come to life. I love the almost magical element that comes with design; getting to start with nothing and it getting to turn it into something. And in regards to my least favourite, I have two. As a business owner I feel as if I never really get to catch a break. You kind of always have that idea that you could be working on something else. All of my time is possible work time. My other least favourite part is learning how to manage the money side of things and putting a value on my time. It is incredibly difficult to decide the price that my work is worth.
A: So what kind of products do you offer?
LM: Currently I sell scarves, faux leather goods, and really anything that I feel fits with the aesthetic of my brand, so I have some necklaces that are made with copper plumbing pieces as well. The other huge thing that I am doing right now is working on a shirt collaboration with one of my best friends Elizabeth Rood for our brand Slayer. This is going to be an ongoing seasonal product that is a sort of limited edition product that we offer, sale, and then change to meet the next season’s needs. The general vision behind it is that her and I are both kind of edgy people and love buying things that are on trend and when people tell me ‘gosh I could never pull that off,’ I want to show them that they can. If you wear anything with confidence then you are pulling it off, and that is what inspires Slayer. I want to infuse confidence into people because when you are confident you carry yourself better and you feel better. We are taking high fashion trends and making them into approachable pieces that women can feel great in. Our goal is to eventually make a dress that is minimal that compliments the rest of their closet. Aside from that I do contract work that focuses on visual merchandising to help other businesses accomplish the look they are going for in regards to their store front and their social media.
A: Lastly, how are you so cool?
LM: The confidence. I really stand for confident women, and I think the big breakthrough in my life was going from the quiet copy-cat, to just doing whatever it is that I am loving at the time. If I love black, I am going to wear a lot of black. If I love neon yellow, I am going to wear a lot of neon yellow and I am going to rock it. It is really just being confident in yourself and knowing that you are everything and not constantly comparing yourself to someone else.
The Artisan Spotlight posts will occur weekly and will give everyone the chance to meet the artist behind the work, so make sure to stop in weekly to learn more about your favourite Anthem artisans!