Leanne is, among many other things, a designer for Euphorie Studios. With over ten years in the fashion industry, including design and make to marketing and product development, she's an integral part of the team. So I wanted to steal some time out of Leanne's busy day to pick her brain on many subjects ranging from her day to day at Euphorie to her inspirations and even sausage dogs.
Let's start at the beginning. What pulled you into the fashion industry in the first place, and at what point did you realize it was the career you wanted to pursue?
I have always gravitated towards creative arts. I was drawing before I was talking, so that has always been obvious from the start. Fashion started to become more apparent when I was around 8. I would run around the house collecting different materials to drape on my sister to create outfits. We'd put on fashion shows for my aunt, where I would be the commentator watching my outfits come down the runway in our living room. The way fabric moves and the shapes it creates on the body were so exciting and fun! The bedsheet was no longer flat; it was flowy, soft, and if I clipped it together, it would make sharp lines. Looking back, this is where my love for textiles started, but I know that becoming Keoula's apprentice at 16 is what cemented my choice. I wanted to be a fashion designer.
How did you initially meet (Euphorie Creative Director) Keoula?
K's mother and my late grandma were friends. When I was 14, I knew I wanted to get into the fashion industry, and when my grandma found out, she put me in touch with K. We discussed the idea of me becoming her apprentice, and that's how it all came together!
Take us through a typical day in the life of your job at Euphorie;
There is no such thing as a "typical day" at Euphorie Studios. Still, I guess the easiest way to run through a day from my perspective would be that in the morning ill set some tasks for myself, and my day will be centered around achieving those tasks. Still, in reality, more often than not, I'll end up getting distracted by ten other things, or K would have some epiphany, and off down the rabbit hole we go!
Keoula looking somewhat worried about whatever Leanne was passionately explaining at the time (Pictured from L to R: MUA Jim, Photographer Nick Wheeler, Creative Director Keoula, model Stacey Vertongen and designer Leanne Hendrix)
What's your favorite part about your job?
Creative freedom. No day is the same, and the only limit is the one you set yourself.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everything! People, places, music! Music especially. Also, K and I will often talk about where we are in our creative journey, and those conversations always inspire me. Keepsake, for example, our first collection together, was inspired because we wanted to create a legacy. So the term "legacy" really transcended through our discussions, and we thought about what it meant to each of us. For me, it was about continuing a legacy. For K, it was about leaving one behind. So we worked from there.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still designing at Euphorie Studios, maybe with a sausage dog or 2?
With the knowledge you have now if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before entering the industry, what would it be?
Has there been a pivotal moment in your life where trusting yourself has changed you?
After my apprenticeship with K had ended and I had finished high school, my family and friends told me that the fashion industry wasn't a viable career choice and that it would never last. I was told I should do something more practical, and against my better judgment, I listened to the advice. I started a degree in nursing under the idea that it would be a stable career choice. However, not long before I was set to finish, I decided that listening to other people's opinions of what I should be doing wasn't going to help me find the sense of contentment and creative expression that I needed in my life. I knew I needed to trust in myself and my instincts, so I quit nursing and enrolled at Billy Blue College of Design in Brisbane, where I gained the skills that I needed to re-enter the fashion industry confidently. Trusting in myself and being confident in what I was capable of has pushed me forward to where I am today; my dream job.
What was the best advice you've ever been given, and who gave it to you?
It was my first day at Billy Blue College of Design with my lecturer, Marni. I remember walking in, and she announced that she only had two rules in her class; never throw anything away and never hide your work, even in fear of others taking your ideas. Hiding your work limits you while sharing challenges and lets you adapt, creating new and better ideas. The class might be over, but I still live by those rules.
If you hadn't gone down the path of fashion, what would you have wanted to do instead?
Architecture? Bee Keeping? Psychology? Astronomy? Only the wind knows.
Now that the 'Keepsake' range has been online for several months now, what's next for you at Euphorie Studios?
In 2019 with Keepsake, it was the first time K, and I had worked professionally as equals. Before that, we had always been student and teacher. So creating the first collection with K was a learning process, in a good way. Now heading into 2020, we've built synergy in our design process at this point in our creative relationship. We are now leagues away from where we were when we brought Keepsake to life; we've both grown as individuals, but we've also grown as a team of designers. Being in an environment where we can continuously develop our relationship as both friends and creative partners allows us to grow. With it, our designs do too, and that excites me the most about the future. In 2020, the sky was the limit, and we can't wait to show people what we've been working on. We can't wait to provide the craftsmanship and quality expected of us and push the boundaries in what we're capable of designing, creating, and delivering by pushing each other constantly to be forward-thinking and open to new ideas or possibilities.
(Euphorie Studios Designer/Product Developer Leanne Hendrix with model Kristen Raffel)
Can you tell us a bit more about where Euphorie's 2020 collection is headed?
We're still in the design and development process at the moment, but one of our focuses is on the idea of the modern bride. The idea that today's bride is not what it was 20 years ago, women today have so much more choice in wedding dresses, not to mention that the bridal industry is challenging what a 'wedding dress is in today's world. For Euphorie in 2020, you can always expect to see the same beautiful craftsmanship and the thought and effort essential to what we do. However, we've also been drawing a lot of inspiration from the concept of what the 'modern bride' means to us and exploring our interpretations of that idea.
Okay, one final question; as someone who spends their days designing wedding gowns, what is your number one piece of advice for a bride-to-be?
Don't settle for anything that is not "the one."