For my first creative entrepreneur interview, I want to introduce you to Leslie. Leslie of Leslie Christen LifeStyling is amaze-balls. I met Leslie a few years ago while working as the Art Director at OC Family magazine. I was eager to meet her because she was at the forefront of OC fashion & I am obsessed with those in the fashion industry. I mean, she’s a personal stylist, how awesome! We’ve done a couple photo shoots together and it was truly awesome. The best part is, she is really cool. Leslie rocks to the beat of her own drum so it’s no surprise that she runs her business that way too. No rules, just right.
Leslie has years of experience as a stylist + costume designer in the entertainment + fashion industries. Now, she works one-on-one with clients to “assess their strengths, minimize body challenges, and help them authentically express their individuality…”.
I’m excited to introduce you to her + share her story. Check it out below. Entrepreneur interview: Leslie Christen.
How did you become interested in starting your own business?
I guess it was always in me. Thirteen was a pinnacle year for me coming of age and something just clicked. My Mom let me explore who I was through clothing and its where my creativity really sprouted. At that point, I decided that I wanted to own my own boutique so that I could choose the clothing that people wore, in essence – style them. It wasn’t till I was going to fashion school and was asked to do wardrobe for my friend’s movies that I truly understood what styling was all about, and that I didn’t need to own my own store to be a one.
What is your business + how do you get paid?
I am a fee for pay service and I get paid by the hour.
What are some great tools or classes you took to prepare you for being an entrepreneur?
Life has really taught me to be an entrepreneur. I believe that either you have it or you don’t. This is how I was born; I knew early on that I would be my own boss.
What kinds of growth patterns do you see for your business/industry?
My business is very fickle. I relay a lot on the economy since I am a luxury service. But people are starting to realize that how they dress really affects the way they feel and so my clients are very diverse.
From your experience, what personal attributes do you think are essential for success?
Self starter, leader, tough, flexible, innovator, great listening skills, kind, and proactive.
What does success mean to you?
Happiness. If I have enough of what I need then I am happy. I am not striving for extreme wealth; I am striving to make a difference in someone’s life. Many people might think that what I do is materialistic. But to see a woman’s face who finally after so many years feels beautiful is really a special thing.
What skills are needed for being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur takes passion, without it you really have nothing.
What are some habits to seem to make up a typical work day for you?
Every day is different; I get the luxury of having days off where I just get to be with my children or by myself. I try to designate just a few days a week for full work days. When working I am at my clients houses or shopping for/ with them. Scheduling is pretty easy since I am in control of my week; it just always seems to work out.
What are some particularly difficult parts of being an entrepreneur that frustrate you? How do you deal with them?
Slow times are really rough. I am a person who always has to be doing something so when I have my typical off months which happen every year I get discouraged. But they also seem to be the months where the best ideas come out of. So it’s a love/hate thing.
How has the importance of having a business plan or business strategy been to your business? How often have you used these tools?
I am not your typical business owner. I never had a written business plan, I have been flying by the seat of my pants the whole time and I can’t see another way of doing it – for me and my business.
What are your thoughts on the importance of marketing?
Very important. Branding is everything.
How much involvement do you have in the financial end of your business or do you turn it over to a professional?
It’s all me all the time.
How do you plan for retirement or do you have an exit strategy?
We own property in Northern California and plan to retire on it. I am really ready for a more simpler life being in nature, having a garden, maybe a horse.
When did you decide you needed to add staff to your team? How many are on your team now?
It’s all me, I find it hard to have employees who aren’t as passionate as I am. I have interns every so often and an assistant that helps out with bigger jobs. But it’s not an easy skill for me to teach, I am more of a doer. I am very type A personality.
What efforts have you put into branding + how have they helped your business?
My relationships helped with my branding. I made sure to become friends with PR companies, Magazine Editors and influencers in the community. They intern helped to launch my brand and get great articles and collaborations along the way. I am true grateful for my relationships and I will do anything to protect them.
What were some of your initial investments to help your business launch?
I started with nothing but a dream, worked other jobs along the way and still really haven’t put a lot on money in my business. You don’t need a large investment to be a stylist. Your office is at other people’s homes or in boutiques. You just need a computer, a cell phone, some sort of social media presence and the ability to network.
What is some advice you have for creative entrepreneurs thinking about starting their first business?
Work your butt off, have passion and never give up. You will make it.