This week is Fashion Week in Nashville. We are thrilled to feature the owner and founder of Leona, a women’s contemporary fashion collection now found in 150 boutiques nationwide. Lauren Leonard creates this collection from her studio off of 12South in Nashville. Leona has been seen in Lucky, Elle and People magazines, and hit television shows Gossip Girl and 90210. The line will be on full display Wednesday, March 21 at Marathon Music Works. To buy tickets to the Wednesday event featuring Leona as well as Wai Ming, Eva Franco and Zang Toi, click here.
Where are you from?
What brought you to Nashville?
I started my company in Atlanta but fell in love with the arts scene in Nashville. There is also this guy known as my fiance’. He may have something to do with it! I have been here for two years now.
Did you always want to be involved with fashion?
Best piece of advice you can give someone starting a business and the best piece of advice given to you?
Know your customer! I have worked for a lot of small business entrepreneurs and have been working in fashion for 13 years now. I have gotten a lot of advice along the way, but the best was probably “Go for it!” Sometimes you need someone that knows you best to give you that final push.
What was the “now or never” point for launching Leona?
I was 23 years old with absolutely nothing to lose. It was totally a now or never moment for me. I had soaked up 8 years of experience in sales, buying, merchandising and design and had been studying my customer my entire life.
Where does the name “Leona” come from?
It is the first 5 letters of my last name, Leonard
Have you and your sister worked together from the inception of Leona?
Since long before! She was the one telling me to “Go for it.” She has been by my side ever since.
What do you see on the calendar for Leona in 2012?
More national and international growth. We will also continue adding new product categories. Fall and Holiday 2012 collections are completed and I am very happy with everything. I actually just started working on Spring 2013, so my mind is swirling with plans for next year!
Are you equally involved with the business side of Leona as you are in the design side?
Oh yes. I love business! I enjoy it just as much as designing.
How many boutiques is your collection currently in?
How do you balance friends, family and work?
It is not easy! Sometimes it is impossible. Luckily I have very supportive family and friends.
Where is your favorite place to eat out in Nashville?
So many. Our office is in the 12South district so Burger Up is at the top of the list. Chah Chah is the perfect spot to drink wine and share tapas with friends. Cafe Nona and City House are some of my weekend favorites.
I live in Hillsboro Village and pop in Provence a good bit.
Is there a Nashville event you are most looking forward to this spring?
Fashion Week, of course!
What is one must-have piece of fashion you are looking to add to you wardrobe this season?
Everything keeps selling out at Leona before I can get my hands on it! I am definitely going to grab the Main St. Maxi Skirt/Dress. I love anything that can be worn multiple ways!
Do you have a service or business in Nashville that you rely on and would like to mention?
We love partnering up with Judith Bright for photo shoots and Fashion Week! I also work with AMAX talent agency several times a year.
What books are on your bedside table?
Currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. I know, I am a business nerd!
Any irrational or rational fears?
My favorite movie was Jaws at the young age of 5. Take a wild guess! The question to ask here is why was I watching Jaws at the age of five?
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding family, friends or God).
My planner, Travel, Chapstick
A special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for her gorgeous pictures each Monday on our FACES of Nashville feature. For more pictures from this shoot, click here.