Industry Taker: Allyson Leak
Industry Taker is a salute to all of the up and comer’s, the talented forces who aspire to grace the pages of the fashion magazines. Those who play hard, hustler harder; the “who got next’s” of today. Whether rocking the runway, or setting the trends on the runway, an industry taker doesn’t ask, they “take” their moment and shine!
Meet our next Industry Taker: 29 year old Allyson Leak is fabulous in every sense of the word. This young fashionista is a certified go-getter. . .Not only is Allyson the mastermind behind her eclectic jewelry line, Ally Marie Couture, she is also the founder of women’s empowerment blog, She Blogs. And when she’s not busy designing and maintaining her coveted blog, she can also be found hard at work on the next issue Today’s Black Woman Style Report, where she works as contributing editor. Designer, editor, entrepreneur and blogger, Allyson Leak is doing big things. . like an industry taker, she takes her moment and shines! Get to know Allyson Leak. . .
Even as a child, you have always had an entrepreneurial and writer’s spirit. Please tell me about your life growing up. . .
Let’s see. . I grew up in my grandmother’s house in Northwest Washington D.C. with my loving and supportive mother and grandparents. For as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to sell things or have a business. When I was eight years old, I had a jewelry business and priced the little plastic earrings at a pricy $20 and would send them with my mother to work for her to sell. I found out a few years ago, that my mother was really the one buying them. My mother always supported my ventures and still does. So that kind of positivity and support played a huge part in who I am today.
How did you land your writing gig with Hype Hair Magazine, as well as Angela Simmons’ Rundown?
After sending out almost 700 resumes, and landing a few interviews with some companies, I actually met a lovely young lady named Neidra Wilson in line at an Essence magazine casting, and I told her I was job hunting. A few days later, she sent me a text telling me the EIC from Hype Hair needed an assistant and the rest is history.
I absolutely adored MTV’s hit show, Run’s House, and I especially loved seeing you and Angela and the entire team of Rundown at work. It was so inspiring to me especially as a young journalist. How did your role on the show come about, and what was it like working alongside Angela Simmons?
Well the producers of the show wanted to film Angela in actual meetings with her magazine team, and they asked us to be involved. I loved working with her…she is a sweetheart.
Was their anything invaluable that Angela Simmons imparted with you, as a young entrepreneur herself? Or was their anything that sticks out in your mind from the experience of working alongside her?
Hmmm. . . well I just remember her being very excited and focused on creating her magazine.
So, let’s talk Ally Marie Couture Jewelry! I love the new collection, especially the “Clearly Yours” necklace as seen on Estelle. What were your muses for your spring 2011 collection?
I actually didn’t have any muses. My inspiration comes in the most random ways, and I actually usually design everything in the store. The line is very feminine and fun. My wonderful roomy, Breena, did help me come up with some of the names though…she’s the best.
Are you a self-taught designer? What is your approach when creating?
I am self-taught. My approach is just to let it flow. As I see colors I like or think of concepts out of the blue, I jot them down in my phone and when its time to create, I bring it all together and go to the store. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I don’t have any ideas and I will come up with everything in the store as I see different beads I like.
How would you describe the Ally Marie woman?
The Ally Marie woman is confident and likes jewelry that is unique and one of a kind.
I know Ally Marie Couture is a favorite of many celebrities such as Alicia Keys and Estelle. Tell me about the amazing opportunity you scored, (having Alicia Keys wear your Bamboo Couture necklace) only 2 weeks after completing your jewelry line. How surreal was that?
It was so amazing and actually still feels kind of surreal to this day. I was introduced to her stylist and he called me one Sunday and told me to hop in a cab and come to Harlem to Alicia’s music video shoot to drop of my jewelry to him. When I dropped it off he said he would try to pair it with an outfit but it wasn’t definite. So I left feeling optimistic. The next day I got a text from him telling me that Alicia was wearing my necklaces as she hosted MTV hits week.
It appears that Estelle is a definitely a fan favorite of Ally Marie Couture, as she has been seen coveting several of your jewels. How does that feel to have such warm reception from her and all of your celebrity clientele?
Estelle is a good friend of mine, and an absolute sweetheart. It is not too often that you meet real down to earth people in this industry and she is definitely one of them. I feel extremely blessed to have had her and a few other celebs wear my jewels. It just goes to show that hard work, optimism, and networking can make great things happen.
Estelle Wearing Ally Marie Couture Love Blossom Necklace
What is your ultimate goal for Ally Marie Couture?
Well, I actually want to open a shoe boutique that sells jewelry. I would like to carry my line and other jewelry lines.
What are your best sellers, and what are the price ranges for your pieces?
My best sellers are Clearly Yours, Leo, Jungle Lady, Love Blossom.
Currently, where is Ally Marie Couture sold?
My jewelry is available on my website: www.allymarie.com
I love that you are all about empowering other women through your positive lifestyle and your women’s empowerment blog, www.She-Blogs.com. What inspired you to dedicate your blog to help women all around the world to fall in love with life, and achieve their dreams?
I really just love helping people. I knew I wanted to start a blog, and it just hit me one day to start one that would inspire women to reach their goals and hopefully give them the tools to lead happy lives.
What has been the most gratifying experience of your career to date?
I have so many, but if I had to choose one for my blog it would be my launch event that I had at Saks Fifth Avenue. I basically in a few months planned the event. Free was the host, and I had some celebs, the women of WEEN, and many other amazing folks there. It was a lot of hard work but it was a great turn out. For my jewelry, I would have to say that the most gratifying experiences are when someone buys a piece from me. I usually end up becoming friends with my clients, and it makes me feel good to know that they are happy with their purchase.
What gives your life meaning?
Knowing one of the main reasons I was put here on earth gives my life meaning. I realized years ago that my gift is being a healer, and that I am here to help people. People always come to me for advice and even strangers on the street have opened up to me about things. I would just love to be able to continue to share some of the basic and realistic concepts that have worked for me in regards to living a happy life.
In three words how would you describe yourself?
Caring, genuine, and hardworking.
Do you have any advice you would like to impart to someone who may desire a career in the fashion and/or journalism industry?
Get to know yourself before you do anything. Starting that relationship is like any other. What are your likes and dislikes? What areas do you need growth? Do you treat others the way you want to be treated at all times, or do you at least make a conscious effort? After you spend time gently evaluating yourself and getting to know yourself better, then the next step is to just start and follow your gut. No one’s path to success is the same. So you could start with a google search and research the industry you are interested in. Then after you know some basics look for a mentor.
How do you remain so grounded and so humble in an industry that can be so tainted at times?
I lost a sibling about 8 years ago and that definitely grounded me and after that I started asking questions about life and my purpose. So since my brothers death I have been on this amazing spiritual journey and I know that’s what keeps me grounded.
What’s next for Ally Marie Couture Jewelry?
Well, right now I am just taking small steps that I can handle. I want to do another line in spring 2012 and hopefully get into more boutiques by this spring.