It was only a day or two after launching our SS19 collection that I got an email from Leah. She was reaching out to see if she could stop by our studio to get herself a few of our new pieces. If you own a small business, or have friends who do, you may have witnessed or - even better - experienced what I call the entrepreneur’s happy dance. In my case, I jump from foot to foot while moving my hands on each side. It’s a weird but very happy moment.
This dance was propelled by the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when people I deeply admire wear our clothes. I have been a fan of Leah’s jewelry and the brand she built for many years now. Plus, she also happens to have impeccable style - cue to her famous necklace layering shots that I dare say you must have encountered at least once on Pinterest.
Leah Alexandra Jewelry was born from Leah’s lifelong obsession with gemstones. What began from the kitchen table of her Vancouver apartment has now, 14 years later, blossomed into a brand with a following across the globe.
So, without further ado, here is our interview with the woman behind it all.
Photography by Jenzel Velo.
1. What memories from your childhood are integral to who you are & what you do today?
There was definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me from a very young age. Whether it was going door to door selling wrapping paper, setting up lemonade stands, organizing surprise parties, or selling jewelry to classmates, I was always up to something.
2. Your mom became a business owner when you were a teenager - it must have been so empowering to see her do that. What lessons did you draw from her entrepreneurship journey that you applied to yours?
I watched her take a huge financial risk when I was 15. It took a lot of determination to start a business as a single mom with two teenaged daughters at home- she really could have lost it all. I watched her persevere through so many challenges and she taught me that resilience is key. She succeeded without a lot of relevant experience to her business- so that also taught me that if you’re passionate, you can teach yourself anything!
3. We read that gemstones are the foundation and inspiration behind all your pieces. Tell us more about your love story with gemstones.
They really are how this all began. I never imagined the effort of sourcing and making a simple turquoise necklace for myself would become the business it has blossomed into today. I never take for granted that my pursuit is to find ways to accentuate the natural elegance of what are arguably the most beautiful materials found on earth. Gemstones continue to be my number one source of inspiration and they have lead me to travel all over the world to source them, as it’s not the kind of commodity you can just order online or on the phone. Next month- India here we come!
4. You have a great sense of style and an eye for finding the best vintage pieces, how does your style reflect your personality?
I have a penchant for timeless, effortless, quality pieces- just like our jewelry! I like the saying “dress for the job you want”. Even though I‘ve already landed my dream job, it’s a great reminder of how the way we present ourselves translates to how we feel and how we’re perceived. But don’t forget to have some fun with it- whether it’s a bold sock or an unexpected pattern. A lot of my wardrobe additions are vintage thanks to Megan Keating (@bohomemarket). She always sources the best stuff and is also the one who introduced me to your brand!
5. You were born and raised in Ontario and moved to Vancouver after college. What pushed you to move here… and stay here?
15 years ago I was at that in between phase where I had just graduated from university but wanted to travel and try living somewhere new. I never intended to stay in Vancouver long term- but then I started my business and met my husband so I’ve put down some pretty deep roots here for now!
6. If you could only pick one, what quote would you engraved in your most cherished piece of jewelry, and what would that piece of jewelry be?
I recently engraved “Positano” on the back of my Love Token necklace. It’s the town where we had our small wedding 11 years ago and I cherish the memories of that trip! But I’d love to select a mantra for my next engraving. I do say “make it work” a lot at the office, so that could be fitting!
7. We know you have a “strict” morning routine, tell us more about it and why you are sticking with it?
The most strict thing about my mornings is my commitment with my personal trainer! 3 times a week, no matter how overwhelmed or sleep deprived I am, my 8am workouts keep me in line and I always leave feeling better. Before I leave the house at 7:40- I make herbal tea, coffee, and prep my smoothie to have later. It’s always the same: banana, berries, water, chia seeds, plant-based protein powder, spirulina powder, and TruMarine Collagen powder. I go straight to work and fortunately I have a shower at my office so I get ready there!
8. You were recently in Mallorca, what did you love most about this increasingly popular Spanish island?
I love the natural and rustic beauty of a place with so much history. I love the hot, dry climate and all the vegetation that goes along with it! The best thing we did was rent our own boat so we could explore the numerous “calas” (bays) and swim freely in the turquoise water! We went in high summer which I would not recommend – next time I’d go late September or early October to skip the crowds.
9. For fun, what is your favourite harly jae piece and how would you style it?
I love the versatility of the Provence Skirt! The high waist is most flattering (as are the Pierrot Pants) and I’d pair it with mid-heel pumps and a cropped sweater. And of course, gold jewelry!