#BadassCreatives: Megan Leone
I first heard about the work of indie designer Megan Leone from Jena of Modish. Jena is someone whose taste and opinion I respect immensely – she’s a lady who KNOWS awesome indie designers! Jena told me, “Megan pairs hunky gemstones, that she scores from flea markets, with re-purposed vintage chains. Or you might dig her new leather clutches, handmade from unloved thrift store jackets and prettied up with a unique vintage brooch- you slip your hand thru the cuff on the front to hold them!”
Jena knows a good designer when she sees one, and I sure do love Megan’s work! I chatted her up to find out more about her work and how she goes about creating these fab designs!
Tell me a little about yourself and your work.
My name is Megan Leone and I create fashion accessories made primarily with vintage and re-purposed materials – “Fashion From the Ashes”. I am originally from Minnesota and up until college I had not traveled much. This combined with my intense desire to see beautiful things created a wanderlust in me. Since then, my husband and I have moved to both coasts and back again. We first moved from the Midwest to NYC where I studied Fashion Design at FIT. This was easily one of the best decisions of my life. After graduation, I was unsure where I fit in. I wasn’t exactly dying to work in a corporate office designing mass-produced clothes. So, I spent some time looking for the perfect job and used my design talents on my own wardrobe. A year later, we moved to Seattle on something of a whim. Shortly after an eye-opening interview with a large company there, I attended an indie design market with some friends. The excitement, enthusiasm and relevance was intoxicating. I found a community where my green ideals and passion for fashion fit in. I built my business there and subsequently found that elusive “perfect job”. A few years later, my husband got a job offer in a place we had not been. Now we’re back on the east coast living in a cute little coastal town in Massachusetts.
How did you get started making things?
I have been making things since I was very young. Cardboard was my medium as a kid, since it was in abundance. My favorite cardboard creations were a Barbie house, a Halloween jukebox costume and a pinball machine. I dipped into sewing when my Mom gave me a needle and fabric scraps when I was around 8 or 9 years old and I loved it! I bought a sewing machine in high school but was so intimidated by it that I didn’t take it out of the box until I was about to apply for FIT. I remember having a panic attack during a field trip to Lee Jeans offices shortly before sending in my application. When I walked through production I thought, “I’m doomed. I don’t know how to sew! How can I be a designer if I don’t know how to sew?!”
What inspires your work?
Everything inspires me! I can’t stop the wheels from turning. Inspiration is all around. A lot of my designs have come from seeing something for only a split second. If I don’t have enough time to take in all the information my imagination fills in the gaps. It’s a form of daydreaming I suppose. I’ll give you an example: My husband and I were walking along a busy city street and I glimpsed a woman in a window. She sat with what appeared to be a quilted jacket sitting in her lap. All I caught was the fabric and the shape it created. I immediately got out my sketchbook and started twisting it around in my head. There’s a fabulous skirt or handbag in there somewhere and I need to figure out what engineering I’ll need to involve. Is this pure fantasy or is it something you’ll find on meganleone.com soon?
Outside of your creative business, what are your other hobbies and interests?
I LOVE music! I love going to live concerts and busting a move, whether it be at a house party or in my office. I love making things outside of my business as well. Give me an hour-long craft project and you have a happy lady. I also love vintage shopping so that part of the business feels more like a hobby. Laughing is also a favorite pastime of mine :).
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve made?
I knew right away I had something truly unique and cool when I made my first Bracelet Handbag. I vividly remember the first night I wore it out, explaining to friends how I was going to start my own business and this was the handbag I was going to do it with.
Where do you see your company in 2 years?
I am still ironing out the business side of things, which can get in the way of design when you’re the only person in the company. I have sketchbooks full of ideas I can’t wait to make. I want to make more fashion trailblazing women the envy of their friends. My focus is to get my products in their hands.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in pursuing their creative dreams?
Have fun! Otherwise, what’s the point?
Check out more of Megan’s work at her website, Megan Leone Designs.