When most people end a long-term romance, they start up on knitting, or just blow this month’s rent on a bulldozer of cookie dough ice cream..
But Leah Kirsch decided upon a completely alternative use for directing her mind and energy.
The 24 year old, New York resident created the rapidly expanding street-wear brand, Millioneiress, (notice the intentional ‘one’ left in the middle to symbolize the femme brand as, ‘one in a million.’)
The liberal and equality-seeking entrepreneur preaches about her gained and natural wisdoms regarding what it takes to be a woman in this world, saying, “When you are confident in who you are, you become magnetic. You will become a leader to those around you and in your own life.”
Check out her thoughts on the fashion movement, no longer accepting a manufactured breed of expression, and just loving who you are, unapologetically.
Q: So your company began with your college romance ending, tell me about why you were drawn to starting a business versus sulking over a breakup or taking up stamping and collecting cats?
LK: Honestly, collecting cats sounds like a lot of dirty work. Don’t get me wrong, starting a business is mostly dirty work but a different kind. And stamping doesn’t go hand-in-hand with my Type A, hyper personality.
Anyway! After my breakup in college, I had a lot of free time. I was over the city partying scene and Facebook was a bore – no customization and coding there for me, haha. I had a passion for graphic design but also clothes, so I found a way to put them together: streetwear. I did a lot of research prior – I must have read thousands of forums and blogs – and I enjoyed every second. Things started to come together beautifully, and it all made me really happy. Simultaneously, I was inspiring and empowering other girls to be unapologetically themselves and independent. After that, things took their course.
Q: Tell me about the ways in which you balance your creativity with the business side of things?
LK: As the Instagram meme says, [I] “throw sass around like confetti.” The creative side of the brand come from things I say regularly, so that makes it easy. I also was blessed with a best friend and roommate, Jocelyn Dawson – I ask her opinion on everything (I’m surprised she still responds). She actually designed our last collection that we launched at our pop-up shop, FEM.
Regarding the business side of things, this comes very naturally to me. Both of my parents are engineers so I am very organized, detailed oriented, and I love numbers. These traits paired with some sass and an artistic, supportive best friend creates a nice balance and forms a solid foundation for a business.
Q: In what ways do you use your brand as a catalyst for sparking conversation about gender equality?
LK: I meet so many people – at events, randomly in the city, online – and everyone is curious about the brand and what I do, which creates an easy lead to a conversation about gender equality and feminism. Millioneiress has put it’s own twist on feminism allowing me to discuss gender equality, openly and straightforwardly. They see the brand and trust that I know what I’m talking about. When they see the following, it’s much easier for someone to understand that the issue is real and numerous amounts of people are talking about it.
Q: You like to use models of all diversities, and don’t lean towards the standard of over-photoshopping/retouches. How has the response been to this?
LK: The response is absolutely incredible. People crave this; we need it. I worked in luxury brands all through college and realized that the majority of ads are extremely unrealistic and unattainable. It makes girls feel like they have to be and look a certain way. It’s psychologically (and sometimes even physically) damaging. By having girls of all ethnicities in my photos and editing very, very little, it communicates that there is not a specific type of body or look that is beautiful.
Q: Do you have any parting advice for those just starting out with dreams of owning their own business or aspiring designers?
LK: Don’t ever feel weird or strange doing anything that is true to you. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t agree (that probably means you’re doing something right). Try every idea you have. It’s an amazing feeling knowing you tried and succeeded or tried and failed. When you fail, you realize it’s not scary or as bad as you imagined – it’s actually wildly helpful. Learn everything you can from anyone you meet, and always treat everyone with equal respect.
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