CultureSkills

‘Talent’ is a word that receives more adulation than required. We often praise an individual for being talented at something. But I believe that is a red herring, a misleading supposition. In fact, I am against the whole notion of using the word talented to appreciate someone’s efforts or achievements.

To have talent is to be gifted with an ability or skill. Many even call it ‘god-given’. But this is not the quality that takes a person from zero to hero. Talent is a definite plus-one, but it does not complete the puzzle of success. The biggest piece to achievement is ‘commitment’. And as overly-repeated as it sounds, hard work is what really matters. Talent might give you the first big leap, but consistency is what lets you leap further.

In my own experience with media related jobs, I have noticed two types of people; those who are extremely skilled writers but don’t stick to deadlines, and those who may not be as adroit but send in their articles on time without fail. I personally prefer the latter group of writers. They might not produce the most beautiful of writings, but they remain committed. Their dedication invariably leads to the betterment of their writing skills.

As the great Will Smith once said, “I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.” Lack of talent should not demotivate us; depravity should serve as an impetus, a source of motivation that propels us. After all, the many exemplars who have moved boulders aren’t ones who pride on talent, but those who truly persist against all odds.

Image: Raumrot

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.

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Whether it is a role in the theater, on a television show, or in movies, Caroline Lindy will seriously impress you with her talent. A graduate of Kenyon college with a focus on Drama, Caroline not only has incredible acting skills, but she adds depth to her work with her study of dramatic literature. With diverse experiences on the sets of an operetta, Law & Order: SVU, Liberal Arts, and most recently a music video, Caroline is learning a lot and excelling in her career. Despite her success, Caroline also experiences self-doubt every now and then, but her positive outlook keeps her motivated. Continue reading to learn what advice Caroline has for youth interested in acting, what she has learned from being a working actress, and how she determined what to study in college.

Name: Caroline Lindy
Age: 24
Education: B.A. from Kenyon College
Follow: IMDb

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

I define “seizing your youth” as taking full advantage of these years where anything is possible and nothing is off limits. It’s about being open to everything and everybody. When you’re young, it’s your job to never stop learning, growing and figuring out what you want and need from life. It’s a time to take risks, fail, and as corny as it sounds, reach for the stars!

What did you major in at Kenyon College and how did you determine what to study?

Kenyon College has great Drama and English programs, and I was originally interested in studying English. Ultimately, I realized I was more interested in the process of analyzing and physicalizing works of dramatic literature rather than exploring works of fiction and non-fiction. I continued to take English courses but chose to focus on Drama more intensively, and it became my major.

What or who inspired you to become an actress?

I grew up in New York City, and I was lucky enough to have parents who took me to plays and musicals and made me watch Hollywood classic films. I danced next to the television set while watching Singing in the Rain and recited Shakespeare along with Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I loved everything about the theater and the screen from a very young age. That exposure is what probably inspired me to pursue a career in the field.

Did you always know that you wanted to act professionally?

Yes, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself for a long time. I was too embarrassed to really audition for any plays until my senior year in high school. Entertaining people is scary territory, and it took me awhile to develop the confidence to be able to sometimes fail and embarrass myself in front of an audience.

What was your first professional acting role, and how did you go about securing it?

My first professional acting role was when I was in the sixth grade. I took an after-school musical class where we sang show tunes, and I performed with great gusto. The teacher knew the director of the Bronx Opera Company, and I landed my first role in their production of “Boccaccio”, an operetta. I played one of the village children and sang in the chorus, and I was totally delighted. It was the most exciting thing that could have happened to sixth grade Caroline Lindy.

You were in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. What was that experience like and what was your biggest take away?

The experience was very exciting! SVU films in NYC, but I got the email about an audition just as my plane landed back in Los Angeles after a visit to NYC. I quickly filmed my audition and sent it to the NY casting office. I got the part, and had to turn right around and fly back east. Filming only took a day, but was a total blast. Everyone was warm, welcoming and professional! I felt very lucky to have been given a role.

You are in the new Dizzy Bats music video, GIRLS. What was it like shooting a music video, and how is the process different than filming for a movie or television show?

Most music videos require actors to focus primarily on expressions and gestures as opposed to text and dialogue. I actually find shooting a music video to sometimes be harder than shooting a scene for screen, because you are provided with less information about your character and have to be comfortable just being yourself with a camera right on your face.

What was your favorite scene to shoot in the GIRLS music video? What was the hardest scene?

I really enjoyed the scene that we shot on the Ferris wheel.  The views of Los Angeles and the Malibu mountains off in the distance were truly breathtaking! The hardest scenes were the driving scenes. Connor [Frost] was driving and I kept on distracting him, almost causing us to get into minor accidents. Luckily we made it out alive. Don’t film and drive!

Caroline Lindy

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actress?

Stay a student. Never stop learning from people who have been in the industry for longer than you.  Don’t be afraid of rejection – it’s inherently part of the profession, so learn to accept it and move on. Once you stop being afraid of hearing the word “NO,” then you can start having more fun at auditions, and start showing casting directors and other industry folks your true artistry.

What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional actors/actresses?

Being a professional actress demands that you throw yourself into an incredibly competitive group of people with giant egos and enormous amounts of talent. However, it is also an industry that embraces the individual. The most important piece of advice I think I could give a young actress would be to just be you. When you’re just starting out, bring yourself into every audition, because there might be a million girls who look and sound similar to you, but there’s no one who is exactly you. So show that to the world! If this casting director doesn’t love you, the next one will! As long as you’re enjoying the process of building a career, don’t give up.

What does a day in your life look like?

When you’re an actress you have to be ready to embrace an unpredictable schedule. I get auditions notices throughout the week and therefore have to keep my schedule fairly open and flexible. I usually try to start off my day with physical and vocal warm ups, followed by auditions, classes or rehearsals (if I’m in a show). I’m also constantly taking on freelance work to supplement my income.

How do you overcome self-doubt or stage fright?

There are times when I feel terrified or feel like a failure, and I say things to myself like, “maybe I should go to Medical School.” However, I remind myself that my favorite feeling in the world is being on stage and feeling the energy of an audience. I love acting because I love entertaining people, I love telling stories and I love being around other people who like to create those stories with me. It’s my favorite thing to do, and it keeps me motivated and inspired.

What motivates you?

My parents, other family members and friends. Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to pursue this career.

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

Dare to be different! As long as you are a considerate, thoughtful and good person, who cares what people think of you? Be yourself and have fun. Life is too short to live any other way.