We had the good fortune of connecting with Leigha Kelly-Knight and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leigha, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks can be scary and the word “risk” carries a bad connotation with the fear of failure looming overhead. I am a middle school art teacher, an artist and the owner of Kestrel Kreative, a small pet brand. If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is that risks also equal rewards! I don’t know if it is possible to be an artist or run a creative small business without risks, it’s the nature of the beast and something I have come to enjoy grappling with. I believe that risk is taking the chances that set me apart from other companies, risk is where innovation and creativity start and risk is the experimental process that leads to beautiful and one of a kind works of art. Being an artist has instilled in me that failure is not all bad! I mess up… a lot! And the one thing that keeps me going is that I can look at my failures and learn from them. What went well? What was a flop? Most importantly, how can I learn from this? Through this process I have discovered my love for running a small business (despite it being a learning curve every step of the way), I have taken chances on myself as an artist and from this I have begun developing and drawing my own line of fabric for my shop! It is far from easy taking that first leap of faith, but I encourage everyone to take a risk and do something that scares you! You never know what you will learn.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have alway been a creative at heart, from the time I could hold a marker I was making art. I carried this love with me into college where I got a Bachelors is Fine Arts and a Masters in Art Education. This road brought me to my formal career as a middle school art teacher. I absolutely love my job teaching! My students inspire me every day with their creativity and unique perspectives. Durning 2020 teaching did not look the same and I found myself with extra time as I worked from home. Having this extra time allowed me the opportunity to explore a much-needed creative outlet. I got a sewing machine and began teaching myself to sew. I started easy, learning how to make dog bandanas as I had recently adopted a puppy. From there I designed my own sweaters and jackets for her. I had always loved the idea of opening my own shop and who doesn’t love dogs? So, I took a chance and Kestrel Kreative was born. Since 2020 I have expanded my product collection from dog bandanas to leashes, collars, fleece layers, and scarves. My most recent endeavor with Kestrel Kreative has lead me back to my creative roots; drawing and designing a collection of fabric! I know I still have a long way to go before I become my own boss, but I am excited to continue this journey with fresh goals in sight!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Denver, Colorado. Some of my favorite places would be Little Man Ice Cream, a must for delicious and unique ice cream flavors. If you love coffee Hooked On Colfax has the best staff, great location near City Park, and delicious drinks. Another great summer spot is Washington Park, just a fun place to bring a blanket and sit in the park to paint (my favorite thing to do last summer!) If you want a beautiful evening dinner I would recommend booking a reservation for El Five to watch the sunset.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Two years ago I joined the Instagram dog community. Yes, instagram has a large and active dog community! Who knew? Well this amazing and niche community was welcoming enough to encourage and support my little idea of opening an online pet shop. Since opening in 2020 my brand has grown more than I ever thought possible! Thank you to my followers, my supporters and my amazing modeling team for helping a girl find a passion! I also want to give a huge shoutout to my boyfriend. Anthony has been nothing of supportive as I decided to start my small business!