We had the good fortune of connecting with Leigh Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leigh, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I was encouraged to start my styling business by an old friend. One day I was helping her clean her closet and she told me I should start charging for closet cleaning services. I have a habit of cleaning and organizing for close family or friends anyway because one of my love languages is acts of service, and I always offer to help with big tasks when I am in their homes. I would also have friends ask me to style them for events, so once I legitimized my entire business, I began charging for services that I had previously been offering for free. I came to the understanding that I was selling myself short by doing things people would pay for free, because ultimately people will always pay for convenience. If there’s anything that I have learned through this journey, it is that there may be a myriad of businesses or services out there like yours, but the market will never have another YOU. If you have a product or idea that you feel is saturating the market, launch it anyway but have your niche or an element that makes you stand apart from the rest. You have to ensure that what you bring to whatever industry you’re in is unique and cannot be replicated, and that you have an authenticity that no one else can match. I know there are a multitude of stylists out there but no one is like me. Things worth struggling for will never be easy and juggling multiple careers/passions is hard, but you should never feel as though you have to settle for one passion over the other. I am a physical representation of what right-brain-left-brain looks like, and I use those skills in my work, my blog and my business so that I can improve the lives of Black people.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am a stylist, creative director and model by trade. I offer different styling services – from personal shopping and styling to closet cleaning and reorganizing to creative direction consulting for photoshoots. The work that I do is heavily rooted in supporting Black-owned or small businesses, whether through product consumption or promotion. I have been developing a database of various types of black-owned businesses and products (shown on the homepage of my website – www.atleighn.com). Since starting this passion project, I have been able to purchase and support a wide variety of B.O.B.s (some of which belong to people close to me). I typically style those products for photoshoots for my blog and style clients using products from these businesses as well. The mission of my business is to support my community with my dollars and access and I take pride in helping my people and those who look like me. My blog is focused on shining a light on the underdogs in my community, showing what Black businesses are out there (because everyone wants to buy Black but not everyone knows where to look) and giving my people the tools to dress and to discover their own personal senses of style. I hope that if I can leave any kind of impact on my community and the lives of my people, then I have done a good job.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Piedmont Park is my favorite place in Atlanta. I am originally from the SWATS (southwest Atlanta) so I have a number of small mom-and-pop restaurants that I like to go to, such as Scotch Bonnet on Campbellton, American Deli and J.R. Crickets (of course), Mr. Everything on MLK, Juicy Crab off Camp Creek Parkway, or if we’re feeling eclectic anything on Buford Highway. However, as an adult, I find joy in either cooking at home or just searching “[food type] near me” and finding a place with good reviews. I have always been an adventurous eater and a cooking fiend so I will try anything. It’s all in the adventure. I like to play pool so any local pool hall (especially the ones in Decatur) would be a great time for me. I also am a big fan of adrenaline junkie-like things, so I would take them either skydiving in South Georgia or indoor skydiving off Cobb Parkway, rock climbing in Brookhaven, or ziplining downtown. Also, you can never go wrong with Six Flags.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to show love to my favorite Black-owned business Ponder’s Cleaners. My love for black-owned businesses runs deep. My family owns the oldest black-owned dry cleaners in Atlanta. I learned how to work hard and how to dress from working there as a kid. My mission is to support Black-owned businesses like the one that made me who I am today. I would also be remiss if I didn’t shoutout Courtney Gurlie of Gurlie Photography. Courtney was the first photographer to encourage me to start modeling and to use my modeling skills to promote my love of fashion. Memory Marked’s George Wilson was the photographer to encourage me to break out of my shell as a model and to use my skills as a model to market my love of fashion, as a result I started my blog and my business. Thank you guys!
Linkedin: Leigh Johnson, MPH
Image 1: Sabree Photography, 2: George Wilson of Memory Marked, 3-4: Nijon Crews of Shots by Shotboy, 5-7: Parris Starchia of Starchia Photography