We had the good fortune of connecting with Kortney Leet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kortney, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The fear of failure or putting my family in financial hardship held me back from starting my company for years. A 9-5 job is safe and consistent. You never have to worry about when your next paycheck is going to come or how your going to pay your bills if you don’t have any customers. Taking risks is of course scary and uncomfortable, something that by human nature we try to avoid. It took years, but I finally changed my mindset and started focusing on the risk I would be taking if I stayed in my 9-5. I would be risking my creativity, my passion, my chance at career fulfillment and happiness. I’d be risking never helping or inspiring the people I hope to serve. I’d be risking the freedom to work where I want and when I want and to never miss my children’s special events/activities. For me, the risks of not starting my company far outweigh the risks of taking a leap of faith and pursing my dreams.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in a very blue collar community in eastern Kentucky. Being a creative wasn’t something that was easily accepted and definitely not encouraged. As a young girl, I had a love for fashion but I was often told it was more of a hobby and would never be a real career. My upbringing taught me that I needed to focus on getting a job with 401K and health insurance, so that I could put in my 40 years and hopefully retire some day. So I did. I became a speech and language pathologist (SLP) and I helped others learn how to communicate. I was fortunate to find a field that allowed me to help and really make an impact on the lives of others, but the creative energy inside me never left. It was like a nagging voice that had been there for most of my life, one I just couldn’t shake. One day I decided the voices were too loud to continue to ignore. I decided to finally go after my dream and start designing my own clothing line. Only problem was I couldn’t sketch or sew and I had absolutely no idea how to make a dress pattern. Only thing I had on my side was my determination to learn and burning passion to create. I worked my job during the day, took care of my daughter, and stayed up teaching myself how to design after she went to bed. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and made a ton of mistakes, but I kept going and 10 months later, I launched my first original line into the world. I’m 100% self-taught. I have never taken a design course and I have absolutely no experience in the fashion industry. I’m figuring things out as I go. Most days I relay on my gut to make decisions and I’m constantly being challenged with learning new things that I need in order to be successful. It’s definitely overwhelming, but I believe that if you want something bad enough, you will figure out how to make it happen.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the outdoor lifestyle that Arizona has to offer. When friends come to visit, I try to take them on as many outdoor adventures as possible. My family and I love to hike and we often take visitors to conquer Camelback. Local hangouts we love include the Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona Wilderness Brewpub, and Joe’s Farm Grill. We also love to get out of the metro and visit the wineries of Sonoita or a relaxing weekend up in Flagstaff.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I design matching dresses for mothers and daughters so of course I have to acknowledge my daughter, Evelyn, AKA “Evie.” She is not only my best friend and biggest cheerleader, but she’s my source of inspiration for all of my designs. She approves all of my designs and will definitely let me know if a dress just isn’t making the cut. Going on this journey with her is such a blessing. It isn’t often a mother gets to involve her child in her work.
Piper Elizabeth Studio