"The Best Time To Do Something Is Now" An Interview with Leah Kirsch
After knowing leah for about a year and a half I had the pleasure of interviewing her and waiting patiently for the answers. In a world where authenticity is hard to find, Leah is all things inspiring and kind. I can honestly say I have met only a hand full of people who work as hard but remain kind, wise, and always willing to collaborate and grow. I think you will find this INCREDIBLY refreshing to read a bit more about how she started, who she is, and why one of her pieces are so incredibly special. We are so thrilled to continually collaborate with her and can't wait to see her pieces for years to come on coveted walls and galleries.
When you were little, What did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, I always told my parents I wanted to be “the boss,” a CEO. Even at the young age of six years old. Along with that, I told *everyone* I would open a store a boutique in New York.
When I got older and people started to laugh in my face about those dreams, I let them go a little. “You won’t make enough money.” “How will you open a store, you’ve never worked in retail.” I let it go. So i went to business school and wanted to be a buyer in NY. Talk about not making money *laughs*.
How did you start… writing and making art!?
Ten years ago in 2013, when I first started my brand, I was solely focused on the clothing industry — trying a lot of thing but all related to clothes.
One day, my friend brought me triple white AF1 mids and she asked me to write on the ankle straps. So of course, not turning down any project, I did. And she painted the swooshes in a matching cherry red. That inspired my line of #LK Custom AF1’s, which eventually led to working with Nike leading an event around my LK Customs. After that, I defintiely felt like something changed, and since then I’ve customized around two thousand pairs of AF1s. At the time, I felt like I was onto something, but was still failing in my business.
In 2019, seven years after starting my business, I made the excruciating painful decision to close my business and leave New York. As you can imagine, I went back and forth on this decision a million times in my head. I was never one to ask for help (which was a total mistake) but this time around, I asked my circle of confidants. I’ll never forget telling my grandmother I was closing my business. Her response, “but isn’t this your dream, Leah?” My response? “I’m not doing well. I’m struggling mentally, emotionally, and financially. That isn’t my dream.” And she said, “well ok, sounds like you know what to do.”
My move to LA in January 2020 was actually quite liberating. I felt a massive pressure lifted from my shoulders. I moved in with my sweet mom who took really good care of me and two weeks later I landed a new job. But within another few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and that job ended.
Naturally, the Leah Kirsch brand fell right back into my lap. God said to me, “you’re not done yet, but move differently this time.” And I promised myself I would. I started with one project of customizing a tired cover for a woman’s daughter in 2020 and it’s been upwards since then.
What advice would you give someone who did not know where to begin but wanted to create for a living?
Spend time and get to know yourself, your real self. Not the self you’re trying to be or putting on for the world. Then use what you find and build your brand around that. You need to build around something unique (which is you). No one can do you better than you so take that and run with it — then be prepared to work really, really hard for it.
How have you stayed true to being who you are amidst the pressure of doing what people want vs what you want?
This answer is pretty simple for me, but I always, simply, trust my intuition. Also, when I try to do things that other people want, it never works *haha* — I learned this in my process to getting to know myself.
Every time we talk to you - you are equally driven and positive. It's always so much fun collaborating. Do you have any daily habits that helps you stay centered?
That’s such a nice thing to say!! Wow, thank you. As for daily habits, as mentioned before, I always actively listen to myself…does something I’m doing feel good or bad? Am I tired? Do I need to rest more? Do I need to put on a more cute outfit, or dress more comfortably? Do I need to be on my phone less or read a different book?
In addition to that, I’m big on slowing down and resting lately, which is quite the privilege considering what my past has looked like. I worked really hard to get here and live a more balanced life and I continue to stay hyper organized and work very hard so I can enjoy all parts of life.
You started on the east coast and now are living in beautiful California with an insanely cool storefront. Can you tell us about running a store, making art, and all the things in between?
It’s pretty chaotic. But also incredibly calming. I think my resting state is a bit different from most. When I have tons of things to do, I thrive.
I have a great team of people around me to support me with accounting, cleaning, eating and staying fed (haha), my boyfriend helps with my bigger projects because, lucky for me, he’s incredibly handy and also diligent worker with a hint of perfectionism — it’s great for my OCD. But for the most part, as I stated above, I stay extremely organized and work consistently so I never get too far behind on anything.
The best time to do something is now, whether thats paying a bill, filing taxes, ordering supplies, following up with a client, sending an email, executing a design, anything. I always just do it right away. It creates space in my mind and space in my life for new things to come.
How do you make the holidays your own? Find the perfect gifts or even make the perfect gift to give?
I give from my heart! Always. And I think about the other person, what they’re going through and how they would feel opening the gift. I think it’s easy to subconsciously buy gifts for others that are actually for ourselves *laughs*. So keep the gift recipient in mind, buy from your heart and you can never go wrong.
We have had huge success with your one of a kind art in the past and couldn't wait to do it again and offer it for gifting this year. Would love to know what your favorite part about working together is?
I love working with women. Especially the Apotheke women! We are so good at communicating, working fast and efficiently, talking effectively with high emotional intelligence, honesty and kindness. It really makes working together so pleasant and it makes the candles come out more beautifully. I know that’s a little corny but as I dive deep into my artist side, the better I feel about a project and the feelings around it, the better the art comes out. The Apotheke team of women allows for that to happen. And I think our customers can feel that too :)