I'm big on stories (obviously!), and there's nothing I love more than hearing the stories behind creative types and their equally creative projects. It's just so interesting, and I had the pleasure of interviewing one of those creative types recently. Lisa Leonard is the brains behind the beautiful Lisa Leonard Designs. The California-based designer, who has been making jewelry since her high school days, creates simple, lovely pieces. Her necklaces, bracelets and earrings can be worn with everything from everyday jeans to an evening dress, and she also specializes in personalized home decor and wedding items. She wants each piece to be meaningful, and she definitely achieved her goal. Read on for the inside scoop on her new line and the story behind her current piece in her shop! xoxo
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I grew up in Orange County, in Cyprus, which is near Long Beach, so it's North Orange County, not the South Orange County you see on TV. I met my husband, Steve, and we had my first son, David. I went full term not knowing anything was wrong with David. The day before he was born, it became clear that there were some issues, so they brought me in and induced. We had this tiny baby that weighed only four pounds and had just two fingers on his left hand. They told us that David will probably be a vegetable and that we needed to come to terms with that. We were devastated. I remember both of us were just sitting on my hospital bed just sobbing. I remember thinking one of us needs to pull it together. In that moment, I remember saying, "We don't know what the future holds, no one can say that this is what David will be." Long story short...we absolutely fell in love with David. He has what is called Cornelia De Lange Syndrome. Usually they don't like to be touched, but David loves to be held—he's a total cuddle bug. He's had multiple major surgeries since, but we found out that David is a pretty tough little guy. Despite all of his challenges, he's determined and feisty. Eighteen months later, my second son, Matthias, was born.
A couple years later, we found out a church in San Luis Obispo needed a new pastor, so my husband took over as pastor, and we moved north. I was working in special education and doing in-home therapy with toddlers with special needs. With my two babies at home, one with severe special needs, it felt like I was doing the same thing at home that I was doing at work. I needed to break it up and do something different, and wanted to spend more time with my boys. I already had the jewelry business, but it was more of a hobby back then. But we thought we could really build something through my designs. So I quit my job and started approaching local boutiques about the jewelry. I stated blogging and found out people were really interested in what I was making. It was all very low-tech, but after Steve's friend built an official Web site, it just exploded. We were at the forefront of of a handmade jewelry movement, customized pieces where you could have your kids name on it, for example. It was super organic and grassroots. It's come a long way since then and is continuing to grow daily.
What's the inspiration behind its launch?
The inspiration behind the Summer Line is finding beauty. Life can seem dark and broken, but there is beauty to be found. Each piece is inspired from the seemingly insignificant things that bring so much beauty and warmth. There is an artisan collection as well as a classic collection— both of which we couldn't be more excited about. Please feel free to browse through the pieces and read the descriptions to learn more!
What's your best piece of advice for people looking for great online shopping deals?
I would say stay connected! In the blog world, there are always great deals being offered and giveaways being hosted. There are some fabulous blogs that feature the newest deals -- once you find them, add them to your RSS feed and you will stay in the loop.
What are some ways that people can still look chic for less?
Thrift! Thrift! Thrift! I have found some AMAZING pieces at local thrift shops. It takes some searching, but it's so fun when you find that unique gems!
Right now, it's the beauty in the brokenness necklace. It so reflects my heart and the core of what Lisa Leonard Designs stands for. Life is imperfect, but that's what makes it beautiful. I'm overwhelmed by the stories I have heard about finding strength in being broken since we've launched it. Definitely my top pick right now.