Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We first discovered Katie Leamon’s gorgeous luxury cards and stationery during a trip abroad. When we stumbled across her notebooks, we were immediately smitten. Based in England, Katie runs her own company devoted to making beautiful paper goods. Having studied art and design in school, Katie followed her passion and turned it into a successful brand. We adored learning more about the woman behind the stationery, and Katie is hardworking and very sweet. Katie shares a glimpse into her busy days, how youth interested in running their own business can set themselves up for success, and her favorite things to do in London.

Name: Katie Leamon
Age: 29
Education: Loughborough University Woven Textile BA Degree; First Class Honors
Follow: Katie Leamon | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Katie Leamon: Be open minded, try new things, challenge yourself every day, believe in yourself, and take the opportunities that life throws at you, and if it doesn’t then go and grab them yourself!

CJ: You majored in Textile Design at Loughborough University. How did you determine what to study?

KL: I loved art and design at school, and I concentrated on textile design throughout my foundation course so it was the next natural step. I then choose to specialize in woven textiles because I wanted to learn a new skill while I was at university which would not be overly accessible following my time in school.

CJ: You are the Director of Katie Leamon, a company devoted to making gorgeous luxury cards and stationery proudly made in England, which you launched in 2010. Where did your love of making beautiful stationery come from?

KL: I am a bit of a perfectionist and pay a huge amount of attention to the detail of a product, so when I set about starting my own thing, it seemed clear to me that it was going to be a high end product. Initially it was just about the design. I didn’t think about starting a stationery business, I was just building my portfolio and getting back into drawing. I have always loved paper products and stationery seemed like an obvious avenue to try and an accessible one for a young designer, so that’s where I started!

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CJ: What responsibilities do you have as the Director?

KL: I am directly responsible for the design and finish of a product, but as it’s my company, all major responsibilities come back to me. We have a great little team, but I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to my work and I still take on a lot more of the daily responsibility than I should!

CJ: How did your education and past work experiences prepare you to start Katie Leamon?

KL: I worked in a small fashion design company for two years before starting up on my own and the experience of running a small company was invaluable. I did a lot of the wholesale side of things which helped when I first set out, and the design experience throughout education and work was all influential in my first collection, and continue to be.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?

KL: Don’t try and run before you can walk. You can kill your company by moving too slowly and equally by moving too fast and making bad, ill-considered decisions. Things have a way of working themselves out so don’t lose too much sleep about things out of your control. Also, don’t hold back on making decisions. As long as you’re making decisions, they won’t be the wrong ones – the worst thing you can do is stay still.

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CJ: What is your design process? Where do you find inspiration?

KL: My design process is a little back to front… I tend to visualize a finished product and then work backwards to get it down on paper and make it a reality.

I am constantly being inspired, and normally have too many ideas, often unrealistic, running around my mind! I can be looking at patterns in the pavement to latest fashion trends, and think of something that could transfer to paper. Sometimes I don’t think we are even aware of many of our influences. I take intentional inspiration from vintage typography, I scour secondhand shops, and the images and style are always inspiring.

CJ: How did you go about the process of selling Katie Leamon luxury cards and stationery in high end retailers in the United Kingdom and across the world?

KL: I was very lucky in that my first stockist was Liberty of London; I was a successful candidate in their Open Call day in early 2011, and following that success gave me the confidence and money to try a trade show and I gained another few stockists, including Selfridges so it grew organically from then on. I think you need to know where you want to pitch your brand before you start, there is no point designing a high end product and targeting mass market chain stores.

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CJ: What can a teenager or young adult who wants to start their own luxury card and stationery company do now to set themselves up for success?

KL: Work hard. There is no way around it, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I think it’s also very important to experiment and know your brand identity and style before you pitch to the market, have a strong unique product, and target the right places.

CJ: What would you say to people who are uncertain about starting a business? What motivated you to take the leap?

KL: I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to make beautiful things. It’s very hard at first, you’re on much less money, if any, than all of your friends, but the hard work is starting to pay off now and I would always recommend doing it if you can. I was working on such low money before I decided to start my own thing that I decided I had nothing to lose, I’d always wanted to do it, I am self-motivated, and I work hard, so I wanted to reap the benefits of working that hard for my own thing! I could get the same money from a part-time job initially, so I did that for the first couple of years while the company grew. I also had the support of my family, I shared my studio with my brother, and he paid the rent for the first couple of months and they were all so supportive. They helped me take that leap so I was very lucky.

CJ: What is the best moment of your career so far?

KL: That’s a hard one, I have a couple. My success at the Open Call day at Liberty was really the start of it all so that was a huge game changer and a huge accomplishment for me. Also, the building and opening of our production studio in Essex. We built the studio as a family, and now my mum and sister run all our production from there. It was a real “Wow, look how far I have come” moment for me.

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CJ: Describe a day in your life.

KL: My day varies largely depending on the time of year and on how close we get to a trade show! But generally speaking, I arrive at the studio at about 8-8.30am, and run through my emails while eating my breakfast. When my assistant Georgia arrives, we will run through our current projects and where we are with them. I will then catch up with my mum and sister who run the production studio in Essex and iron out any issues that might have come up and discuss any projects or new accounts that we are working on.

I then try to concentrate on the design side of things. Whether it’s working on new design projects, selecting and sampling colours and paper stock or actually getting my head down and doing some drawing. I always start with doodles in my sketchbook, then edit and try things on the computer. As to be expected with a small company, my day is interrupted with various queries, but I try to structure my day around our current projects and deadlines. Currently I’m trying to finish off our catalogue for Top Drawer, so I’m finalizing samples for a photo-shoot next week, and selecting some new envelope styles for a limited edition run of neon!

CJ: How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

KL: Luckily I am naturally organized. But as a company we plan our weeks with what needs to get done and other things we want to achieve with the tasks at hand. I think you need to be flexible, you can’t plan too far in advance or you might miss an opportunity. Up to now I have let the business dictate a little of its own path, stores have approached us which has led to new and exciting things, and we obviously have goals but I think they are constantly changing and evolving. We evaluate things as often as possible and try to identify as quickly as possible if we are going off course.

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CJ: How do you like to enjoy your free time?

KL: I am a bit of a foodie so I love eating out with friends and trying the wealth of London’s food markets! I also love being outdoors and keeping active so I love camping, going to the beach, and keeping fit.

CJ: Which book had the greatest impact on you?

KL: Gone Girl, I was thinking about it for ages after I read it!

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

KL: Work hard but worry less. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Health

There are many methods to avoiding the harmful chemicals found in commercial shampoos. Many people do the no-poo method, and others go for the clay washes. Since I hold a 9-6pm corporate job, I’m not in the position to experience the two-week no-poo transition phase, in which my hair would be a massive grease ball. Plus, after some research, I realized clay would be a no-go because it’s just difficult to find all the ingredients.

So, I went with plan C, which was… figure out what other random things can clean hair and make a concoction.

Luckily, I found some great information and recipes using ingredients ranging from coconut milk to castor oil to honey. Very interesting.

I decided to do a little remix to a recipe I found on Wellness Mama’s blog, using some ingredients I already owned:

1/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup Dr. Bronner’s almond scented liquid castile soap
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp coconut oil
6-8 drops lavender oil

Shake and enjoy! Because of the coconut milk, this will last for about a month, which is why making small quantities at a time is key. One thing I’ve found is that the shampoo is a very thin consistency, but all it takes is about a teaspoon. Once that small amount is on my hair and I start lathering, it gets foamy and covers my whole head.

This is a great natural alternative for those who love the foaming aspect of shampoos (most shampoos foam because of chemical agents). The clay method doesn’t foam, and neither do many other recipes.

This shampoo works really well for me. I underwent a short transition period during which my hair was ridding itself of the chemicals other shampoos had built up, but it was only noticeable to me when I felt my hair. It didn’t look strange or dirty; it just felt a less soft than usual.

Some people experience no transition, others experience a more noticeable one if their hair has seen a ton of product. Once the transition ends, though, your hair will be shiny, soft and all-natural!

Ever washed your hair with uncommon ingredients, or done the no-poo method? Share it in the comments section!

P.S. Check out my DIY Natural Body Wash and DIY Natural Face Wash recipes.

HealthSkills

Last week I shared my natural face wash recipe. This week, I’m sharing my body wash recipe, which also includes several essential oils.

If you haven’t read my last article, you may be wondering why on this green earth I would use oil to wash my face and body. To sum it up in a nutshell, most of our facial and body cleansers contain harsh, even dangerous, chemicals, including industrial cleaning agents and ingredients in antifreeze. To top it off, many natural and essential oils contain antibacterial and cleansing properties.

It sort of blew my mind and got me freaking out about what I’d been putting on my skin all these years. So, I did some research on natural stuff, and now here I am, with some chemical-free and deliciously scented face and body washes that I made myself. They work wonders.

So here’s the recipe, which includes the incredible and inexpensive coconut oil that comprises the majority of my face wash. As with the face wash recipes, the possibilities are endless here. Essential oils and castile soaps do wonderful cleaning jobs, they’re not harsh on the skin and they don’t send chemicals down the drain into our water.

The Recipe

1 cup castile soap – inexpensive, health foods stores
3 drops rose oil – pricey, health foods stores
3 tsp coconut oil – inexpensive, grocery or health foods stores
5 drops lavender oil – somewhat pricey, health foods stores

Note: while some of the oils I use are pricey (close to $20 for a small jar), they last a long time. Most recipes call for only a few drops of each, as a little goes a long way. Plus, the oils can be used for all kinds of health purposes. They’re a good investment.

Soap-wise, I chose Dr. Bronner’s organic almond liquid castile soap. It smells de-lish but not too strong. Like I did for my face wash, I used a mason jar, but feel free to use any type of bottle or container.

Be sure to shake it up before use, every time! Otherwise, the oils will sit on top and not mix in with the soap.

Other than that, just put it on a washcloth and use it the way you’d use regular body wash! Scrub and rinse.

For extra moisturizing and cleansing, you can rub coconut or another type of essential oil on your skin when finished. I’d recommend coconut oil just because it’s so much cheaper than your typical essential oils, plus it smells awesome and works wonders. You can wipe it off or leave a light layer if it’s comfortable for you, although leaving it on all day feels a little weird in my opinion.

I hope you find my recipe beneficial, but feel free to find the scents that work best for you! Research can let you know the best ingredients for dry skin, oily skin, and normal skin.

Anyone have other recipes for natural body washes? Share below!

Image: Annouk, Flickr

Health

I wash my face with oil. I get some funny looks when I tell people this, but I personally think it makes more sense than telling people I wash my face with chemicals. Not only that, but my skin glows. It’s super clear, feels like a baby face and smells like a coconut! Does it get any better than that?! I’ve tossed all my store-bought face washes because I no longer feel the need to scrub my face with chemicals, alcohols, and other industrial cleaning products of unknown origins.

I became interested in using oil cleansing face wash when I was at the grocery store, reading labels on cosmetics marketed as “organic” and “natural.” I’m sorry, but can someone explain to me what is natural about Disodium Laureth-3 Sulfosuccinate and Cocamidopropyl betaine?

After some research, I found that many(probably the majority of) commercial face wash products contain chemicals like those found in antifreeze (propylene glycol – a skin irritant that can lead to liver and kidney damage) and crude oil (mineral oil – inaccurately named and classified by the World Health Organization in the most harmful group of carcinogens). Trust me – that’s only the very beginning.

These chemicals are so harsh on our pretty little faces that they can cause reactions, including dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Their short-term benefits are derived from industrial cleaning agents. Imagine washing your face with Clorox wipes.

That research was enough to make my skin crawl. Being a slight mother nature weirdo, this discovery was all the motivation I needed to switch cleansing methods, pronto.Weirdo or not, though, the benefits that come with natural oil washes and the health/beauty dangers that come with commercial ones make the option seem like a no-brainer.

I started my switch by simply Googling “natural face wash.” What I found was unbelievable. I realized that most stripped-down face washes I could buy still contain at least some kind of long-named chemical, but that I could make my own using only a few ingredients, namely, essential oils.

What?

It seemed so counterintuitive to clean my face by rubbing oil on it, but, like most people my age, I decided to blindly trust the Internet. I settled on a simple recipe that wouldn’t require me to purchase too many oils (being real here, I have almost no disposable income). I also didn’t want anything too complicated for my first try.

The Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need, if you want to try the recipe I use:

Coconut oil (1 tablespoon) – very cheap, grocery or health foods store
Tea tree oil (3 drops) – average, health foods store
Lavender oil (2 drops) – somewhat pricey, health foods store
[optional]: squeeze of lemon juice for oily skin
[optional]: a couple drops of honey
A bottle or jar with a lid (I used a mason jar to make it cute)

Mix as many “servings” of the recipe as you please into your container. This next step is optional, but you can stick it in the fridge, and it will take on a more lotion-y consistency.

The Method

When using it in either form, simply put some on your fingers and massage it into your face until you feel you’ve covered your whole face, jawline included.

Then, take a washcloth and put it under water that’s as hot as you can stand having on your face. Wring it out and put it over your face for about a minute – this is to “steam” your face and open your pores more so the oil can get in there and do its job.

Next, use a clean washcloth and warm water to wipe the remaining oil from your face. And voila! You’re done!

Other Options

There are endless variations on the recipe, because so many essential oils possess cleansing and antibacterial properties. I read about one girl who uses literally only coconut oil. I read another article listing possible oils to mix, including castor oil, which apparently is a fantastic gentle cleansing oil. I think I’m going to try it in my next recipe.

If you want to get creative with different scents and oils, do a Google (or Bing, I don’t know your life) search on essential oils, determine which ones have cleansing and/or moisturizing properties, and try those in a face wash blend! It’s all about finding the one that works wonders for you.

Results

The results are actually unbelievable. Like I said at the beginning, my skin is clear, soft, and glowing. My pores look smaller, too. I even put on some makeup to test it out, and the oil peeled all of it right off.

Whether you have extremely dry, extremely oily, normal, or acne prone skin, there’s a natural oil face wash out there for you. Best of luck in making the switch! Your skin will thank you.

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Any other natural face wash ideas? Share them in the comments section below!

Images: Sharon_K, Flickr; Veganbaking.net, Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When you walk into one of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream shops, the smell of waffle cone overwhelms you in the best kind of way. The stores are a light turquoise color with the cutest logo of Molly’s pup Parker Posey licking an ice cream cone. People of all ages, from young children to their grandparents, gather at Molly Moon’s and wait in the long lines that form down the block. Molly Moon’s is more than just an ice cream shop; it is a community gathering spot where locals and visitors from afar travel to get a taste of Molly’s delicious ice cream. With flavors such as Honey Lavender, Earl Grey, Salted Caramel, Maple Walnut, and Melted Chocolate, to name a few, it’s no wonder why Molly Moon’s is so beloved.

As big fans of Molly Moon’s ice cream, we were thrilled to talk to the woman behind the cone, Molly Moon Neitzel. In six years, Molly Moon’s has grown to six shops around the Seattle area. You can even get her ice cream at Hello Robin Cookies for some seriously good ice cream cookie sandwiches. Not only is Molly a savvy businesswoman, but having worked at an ice cream shop all through college in Montana, she is also a skilled ice cream maker. While she originally wanted to be a political reporter and journalist, Molly’s career path changed when she moved to Seattle and noticed a lack of ice cream shops and community gathering spots. She is proof that you never know where life will take you.

If you want to run your own ice cream shop, business, or just love ice cream, Molly has great advice and tips that she has learned over the years. We’re definitely inspired by her and all that she has accomplished.

Name: Molly Moon Neitzel
Age: 35
Education: B.S. in Journalism from the University of Montana – Missoula
Follow: Twitter / Website

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

A unique quality about youth is that you have far less to lose. That was a really big driving factor for me to start a business young and just go for it. I wasn’t married, I didn’t have kids, I didn’t own a house, I had nothing to lose. I had an $800 dollar a month apartment and a puppy, and I wasn’t going to lose her if I lose a business. That has been pretty defining for me.

You majored in Journalism at the University of Montana – Missoula. How did you determine what to study?

Since I was in 3rd grade, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be a political reporter for television or radio, so that’s what I went to school for. I wanted to be Gwen Ifill.

What was your first job out of college?

Out of college, I was a fundraising event coordinator at University of Washington Medicine. We raised money for all the medical research and the Medical School, and UW Neighborhood Clinic, Harborview Medical Center, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I planned fundraising events for Harborview’s uncompensated care program, breast cancer research, and some Alzheimer’s research.

You spent time as a Founding Executive Director at Music for America. What did your role there entail?

I helped to start the organization with a bunch of other people in their early- to mid- twenties. I managed the people in the programs, partnered with bands to register their fans to vote, and then educated those people on political issues that might mobilize them to vote, and then we did a lot of voter turnout work. We brainstormed ideas about how to execute the mission and accomplish the programs and manage the people. 50% of my job was fundraising to pay to keep the organization going.

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You went from music and politics to ice cream. In 2008, you opened Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. What inspired you to start an artisan ice cream company?

I really went from ice cream to music and politics back to ice cream. My job all through college was at an ice cream shop. I worked at the Big Dipper in Missoula. I worked there for three and a half years. I was a scooper at first, then I was an ice cream maker, and I helped manage the shop a bit. I had seen all of the ways to run an ice cream shop, and I knew how to make ice cream.

When I wanted to leave Music for America because fundraising is hard and I was burnt out, I decided to come back to Seattle. I was talking to my mom on the phone wondering what to do with my life, and she said, “Why don’t you just open an ice cream shop? Then you can be your own boss and do it the way you want to do it.” That sounded good to me and I ran with that idea. I wrote my business plan, found investors, and took those steps.

What have been the greatest challenges in running your company?

Well – knock on wood! – I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of crazy challenges. We’ve had the normal challenges that a lot of small business have. You grow a lot and then you have to work with having more employees and make them feel taken care of. The people part can be tough. The biggest challenge for me personally has been juggling the business when it competes with personal life. That has been challenging for me as a business owner, and it’s something that people who want to own their own business should really think about. A business is like a child and it’s going to suck all of your energy and compete with everything else in your life.

Your experience at Big Dipper Ice Cream gave you experience running an ice cream shop, but what have you learned from Molly Moon’s about how to run an ice cream company?

I have a lot of small business owners in my family. My dad is a General Contractor and I watched him run his small business. My grandparents owned a saloon that was the central gathering place for politicians, lawyers, and professionals in our small town in Idaho.

One thing that I’ve learned from Molly Moon’s is that instead of cutting costs, it’s wiser to increase sales. Figure out how to make more money rather than skimping on things. That feels better for your customer, feels way better for your employees, and it keeps you in a positive and optimistic mentality. When you get focused on cutting costs, you can get really negative.

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What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being an entrepreneur?

I think that risk is really good. I’ve followed my gut and have taken risks. Know that you can fix mistakes and everything works out, but not taking risks is boring and stagnant and as likely to make you fail.

What does a day in your life look like?

I wake up with my one-year-old sometime between 5:30am and 7:30am. We hang out as a family for 30 minutes, then we get ready and start our days. Many days I’ll stop by our new shop on 19th and Mercer, which is inside a cookie shop called Hello Robin that is owned by a dear girlfriend of mine. I’ll check in on Robin, get a coffee or a scone, chat with her about the day, and get to work around 10:00am. Most days I have about six or seven meetings, and I am here until 5:00pm. My days are packed with talking and thinking, and I hardly have time to get to email. I’m often in bed at 8:30pm.

What should a teenager or young adult who wants to have their own ice cream shop and run their own business do now to set themselves up for success?

Work in an ice cream shop. Get practical experience and ask to do different jobs within the same company to get perspective. I was a scooper, but I also made ice cream and learned how to write the schedule for the employee shifts. If you’ve only been a scooper or in the kitchen or in the IT department, you won’t know the full picture. Learn how to look at things from different angles.

What motivates you?

Now what motivates me is being the breadwinner for my family. When I started, what motivated me was not having a boss, being able to do something where I could have my own politics. I paid for health insurance right away for people who worked for me and everything is compostable. That was very motivating for me, to be in charge of our role in the community at large.

Another big motivation for starting Molly Moon’s was what I experienced when I moved to Seattle in 2001. There were no ice cream shops and I never saw people under 21 or over 40 years old. I went months without seeing people from another generation. It was shocking to me. I thought, if Seattle had a cool ice cream shop, maybe there would be a place where multiple generations would gather at once. That was a big thing for me, and I think that we’ve accomplished that. I think all of our six shops are multi-generational.

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What are your ice cream making tips?

Don’t let anything thaw and then refreeze – that makes it icy. Pair flavors together that you think are good in savory dishes. If you’re using an ice cream machine that has a frozen bowl, make sure to freeze it more than eight hours. Make sure it’s super cold. The best texture you’re going to get is from that freezing element being the coldest is can possibly be.

If you could enjoy an afternoon eating ice cream with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what kind of ice cream would you make?

Madeleine Albright and I feel like she would like Maple Walnut because people from her generation usually like Maple Walnut, but maybe she would be a Salted Caramel and Hot Fudge girl.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

My 15-year-old self was pretty cool. I was such a hippie, but I don’t regret that. It was good to express myself that way. I am still pretty true to who I was at that age. I would say keep being true to yourself and your ideas. Keep being willing to speak your mind. As a kid you can feel tampered down or that you should fit in and be quiet, and I didn’t really feel that way as a teenager. I was okay with standing out and speaking my mind. I’m still that way, and I’m proud of that.