Stories From The Hill

A behind the scenes look into image consulting and personal branding. Hill Image will get you there.
23 Jun 2015

“Look” At Me

“I ended up feeling a bit empty,” she says. “Fashion is about what’s on the outside, and that’s it. There’s no searching, it’s just creating pretty things.”– Cara Delevingne

Growing up, my older sister always made fun of me for putting make-up on to go to the grocery store.  (I graduated with 60 people in my class… so running into someone you know is definitely going to happen– not something that “might” happen.)  I entrusted local talent to do my hair and make-up for formal dances in high school.   Though they may be the most talented gals in the industry up there, I am not going to say that pictures of such events were short of make-up that was too light for my skin and hair that was too hard to notice the young girl I was.

Fourth grade Leslee

Bring on Middle School

I can remember like it was yesterday:  Semi-formal of my Junior year.  I had my hair professionally done.  Curled so tight I looked straight out of an I Love Lucy episode.  Hated it. But I knew it would relax by the time I went to the dance.  I was driving my younger sister home with me in my white Ford Escape and who stops us on our way out of the parking lot??   Oh yes… the most popular boy in the school.  I frantically start trying to straighten out my kinked locks while my sister is hilariously laughing at me.  As only sisters could do, I am yelling at her almost in tears.  **for the record, I went home and rinsed my hair… ended up still having bounce and was the best hair picture I have from all my formals!

When I moved to Chicago for my first fashion industry job, I was still enthralled with putting make-up on to go to the grocery store and interested in my personal fashion.  So it made total sense that this was the industry I wanted to be in.

Chicago AIDS benefit with mi madre

I had a bit of a wake-up call when I moved to Colorado for an industry job.  I was immediately told by two friends “no one colors their hair here.  You need to stop doing that”  I was also told a month or two later “no one wears make-up here.  You need to stop doing that”.  The most sought after girl I hung around with, never wore make-up, didn’t do much with her hair, snow skied like a champion, and had been in the peace corps and worked as a white water rafting instructor.  Wellllllllll, WTH?!  Sooooo I definitely do not fit in. … yet I do.  I went through this odd transformation of understanding what was important.

A few of the gang in Colorado

A visit home showing off my new red hair (“no one highlights their hair”… ok, I’ll go bright red!)

At that time a few of us were in our early 20’s.  Perfect timing to feel inadequate, yet confident.  We were wondering who we would marry… IF we would marry.  Where we should live (not in the city– in the world.  We’d all done international travel so wondering where to live is a little more involved than someone who has never seen much more than their home town).  What did we really enjoy spending our time doing:  Going dancing?  Hiking?  Watching “Sex in the City” with just the girls?  Who were we??????!!!!!! Who did we want to be????!!!!  Perfect timing because  articles about the “quarter life crisis” were surfacing.  Ummmmm yes, that was us in a nut shell.

Co-workers in China

Just as I was at a total loss of confidence in all that I know in life to be desirable.  I moved an hour away from my home town, heading up that corporate ladder in the fashion industry.   Welllllllll,  now I’m confident with going sans make-up just about anywhere, let a lone the grocery store.  I’m wondering what the heck to do in the winter when no one around here will go outside.  And I’m working my buns off.   I felt a little more stable being me.  My older sister couldn’t make as much fun of me anymore and I was confident in who I was no matter what I looked like (mostly bc their wasn’t enough time to think about it).

Traveling with my now husband sans make-up

Halloween party with my now husband

When I quite my corporate job as a designer/ developer for 12 years I looked back thinking exactly the same as Cara Delevigne states above.  I wanted substance.  I wanted to make a difference in the world.  How could I love my job so much and feel so unfulfilled at the same time?  There were moments when all I could think about was the fact that 12-16 years of my life were focused solely on creating something that would inevitably end up in a landfill.

landfill

Having this experience as an Image Consultant has changed that outlook for me.  What I was creating makes or breaks a day.  Builds their self-esteem or breaks it down.  I’ve stood in dressing rooms with clients/friends as we teared up over how amazingly gorgeous they are in one of those “things I created that would inevitably end up in a landfill”.   Loving ourselves is just as important as serving others.

On to the next transition of my life in fashion.

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