Texas native Leslie Medlin is a bossbabe all things chic and cool. Today on the blog, the Raleigh fashion designer, merchandiser, and stylist sits down with us to chat about her own personal style and how she leverages it to build confidence into other women's wardrobes, bringing an element of true innovation to clothing design. Read on to learn about how she designs for "life's in-betweens," and what else keeps her inspired along the way.
What got you into design and styling? I graduated with a fashion design degree back in 2010, and since then I've been working on a long-term goal of designing my own line of clothing and accessories. Along the way I fell in love with visual merchandising and have been doing that alongside my design endeavors[...] I've always loved helping women feel confident about what they wear, and how they carry themselves, so I do a lot of personal and photoshoot styling on the side. My umbrella company is Leslie Medlin Design House.
But here's the raw truth: all of that may sound glamorous, but let me be the first one to tell you that it's been a long six years and most days I look like a crazy woman with no goals and no progress. But I do what I do because I truly believe that I'm made to do it, and that the process it takes to get to every next level is worth the work, the hardship, and the doubts.
Back in high school, I made a huge turn from being an insecure copy-cat -- just trying to be like everyone else, because I didn't have any confidence in who I was -- to realizing that I had dreams, ideas, and a style and personality all my own. This inspired me to delve into the world of fashion and live to build confidence into women's wardrobes, bringing an element of true innovation to clothing design. I've always wanted to bridge the gap between women and the "unattainable cool factor."
What most inspires your work? I'm inspired by the day-to-day life that women live. All the different things we do, and how we want to dress in each of those dynamics, inspires the types of things I design. I love looking at the whole gambit, from the high-fashion dressed women on the streets of NYFW to the women sitting next to me at a coffee shop. How we design for all the in-betweens -- I live for these ideas.
Real talk. What have been some of the challenges? One of the hardest things about building a career in the thing that is my number one passion, is that the lines are often very blurry. My free time is often spent doing some of the same things that I do in my working hours. Researching magazines, blogs, books for trends, ideas, the zeitgeist. But I do very much enjoy movies, and going out to dinner with my husband and our community of friends.
Time has always been something I can't seem to be friends with in a lot of ways. I've always been more of a scattered person -- I have no internal clock, and I have a hard time estimating how long I've been doing something or how long a project will take. I used to be chronically late to everything. But I've been really working on that over the years. I'm just such a believer in excellence (and at its worst, perfection), so I have a hard time wanting to sacrifice quality just to meet a deadline. We all know that's not how the world (and America in particular) works. I have had to really challenge myself to understand how time affects everyone, including myself, and work to honor it so that everyone can be successful and peaceful in the process.
How would you describe your styling? The best way I can describe it is a mix of "effortless, clean cool" and "of the zeitgeist." I love both simple, spacious design that spans trend and body changes, but I am also a lover of risky ideas and out-of-the-box styles. I enjoy being an early adopter of exciting new takes on silhouettes, colors and shapes. My closet has a lot of staple pieces, simple shapes, lots of black and grey, as well as pieces that pop, fun layering styles, and lots of red and weird yellow colors.
Favorite thing to do in your spare time? I'm actually really into history, I find so many things about it fascinating. So I spend a lot of time watching movies based on true events, and reading books about WWII, world events of the past, and even famous people of the past. I could watch and read only documentaries and be very happy.
Raleigh has been a really fun city to discover. Lots of great coffee shops, and while I do spend a lot of time at them for work, I love going when I'm not working to hang with friends, play games with my husband, and read or write on my own. One of my favorite places to frequent are art museums, and Raleigh has a great one with lots of modern art that I could stand in front of for hours at a time.
Explore more of Leslie's work on instagram.