Over the past few years, I have become a strong supporter of local businesses. I have translated that into volunteer work with Shop RVA and now have the privilege highlighting local fashion designer, retailers, and other artists with chicstripes. There are of course more and more such collaborations to come as I am constantly meeting the talented people in and around Richmond. For today’s Shop in Style, I am proud to introduce Leney, a local artist, photographer, and blogger who opened her first Etsy shop October 1. One of the things I love about working with local artists is the chance to get to know them first hand, meet them, and interact with their products. Enjoy this interview with Leney and get the scoop on some of her designs!
1. Name: Leney Breeden
2. Where are you from and where do you live now: I was born here in Richmond, Virginia and I’ve lived here my whole life. Richmond is my home and I love it.
3. What do you do by day: I’m an administrative assistant to a lawyer, and I’ve recently opened an Etsy shop and do photography on the side. Namely the “Street Style” feature for the website From the Runway to RVA, but I also take senior pictures, family portraits, cover parties, etc.
4. What are your hobbies/past times: I think have more interests and hobbies than anyone one person should have really. I love doing so many things! Primarily my art related stuff, and making things. I also love sailing, going to the VMFA, thrifting, taking pictures, going to concerts (I love supporting local artists/musicians and do so whenever I get the chance), traveling, reading, watching Audrey Hepburn movies, and driving anywhere with the windows down.
5. How did you get into the fashion/photography/jewelry making? What was your inspiration to create your Etsy shop? I’ve loved dressing up ever since I was a little girl. My Mom used to take me and my brothers thrifting all the time while I was growing up. I learned to love thrift and vintage shopping and when I learned how to sew, I was able to alter the things I thrifted and make them unique. I then started designing and making my own clothes, which led to learning how to knit. So I began knitting scarves, hats, socks and sweaters, then I started making jewelry. I’ve always loved arts and crafts, so it’s really been a passion of mine, in some capacity, ever since I can remember.
I got my first digital camera when I was 14 years old, and taking pictures just became something I loved doing. I was very much a “documenter of events,” and still am. Now I rarely leave the house without a camera. I just love capturing life- being able to see something happening, and being able to take a picture of it and containing that small piece of time, that memory, to treasure and look back on is just something I love doing, cheesy as that may sound!
My inspiration for opening my Etsy shop came about 3 years ago, when I first discovered Etsy. Immediately I thought about how fun it would be to open a shop and sell the things I made. Up until that point I had only been selling things on a commission basis. In fact many people frequently told me I should have an online shop to sell my things, but it seemed like such a daunting task and I never took the time to pursue it. I had tried selling some things on Ebay, but Ebay just isn’t the best venue for selling handmade things, so that never took off. But when Etsy was created, it seemed the perfect outlet where all things handmade and vintage were sold, so from that point on I thought about opening a shop. It took a few years to actually get it going (there’s a lot more work involved than you would think!) but now that I have, I love it.
6. What is your definition of personal style? I think personal style has a lot to do with confidence. I hear all the time about how people like a certain thing, style, piece of clothing, or an outfit, but they don’t think they can “pull it off”. I believe that if you love something, that’s all it takes to pull something off. I do believe there’s important factors such as dressing appropriately and for your body type, however the number one thing I associate with style is confidence. And that’s something I believe can be obtained by anyone who wants it. I also enjoy people’s own individual personal style though. To see a certain piece, like a dress, and see how so many different people would style it and wear it and have them all look great, is something that’s so fun to see. That’s one of the things I love about Richmond- there doesn’t seem to be any one label of style that anyone ascribes to. Everyone is so unique, and I love seeing peoples’ different interpretations of individual style.
7. What is YOUR own personal style like? To be honest, my style changes with how I’m feeling that particular day, which i know people say a lot but it’s true for me! On any given day you could find me in anything from belted overalls and flats, to a maxi skirt and wedges, to a flowery dress and heels to high-waisted shorts and cowboy boots. I will say that dresses are my personal weakness. I love dresses. It’s a rare occasion where a dress in some style, will not be the perfect article of clothing to wear.
I’m very inspired by all things vintage however. Being a life long “thriftier”, a majority of my wardrobe is vintage in some capacity, and I love taking pieces from a few decades ago and making them new and wearable now. Oddly enough, my style of late has been very 60’s and 90’s centered. And I also have a lot of beautiful vintage jewelry from my Mom, Grandmother and aunt which I incorporate into a lot of my outfits. I love accessories. But my style is something that is constantly changing, and I love that flexibility about fashion.
8. Favorite current item in your Etsy shop? Right now, I love all the chunky knit cowls. Especially with Fall in full swing. It’s that perfect time of year when you need an extra bit of warmth, and I love that about these. They’re super soft and keep you warm with an added touch of style. I struggle with not making one in every color for my own personal wardrobe!
9. Can you give the readers an idea as to where your shop is headed, what pieces or looks can they expect as you make in the future? I’m working on building a variety of items into my inventory. I create so many different things. I hope to incorporate some clothing in the upcoming months, namely some dresses. But I’d also like to introduce some of my art, as well as some home accessories, such as pillows. I plan to be updating the shop weekly, so definitely check back!
10. Favorite thing about fall? That crisp chilly feeling when you first walk out the door, and you’re wearing all your cozy Fall attire- leather jacket, boots, scarves and hats, and the sun is shining through all those beautiful multi-colored leaves! There’s nothing like being outside on a sunny Fall day!
11. Pet peeve: That people don’t know how to properly go through 4-way stops. Since I have one in my neighborhood that I go through almost daily, I come across this more than you’d think!
12. Any tips for someone who wants to do what you are doing: working, shooting pictures, and opening their own Etsy shop or creating their own business? Honestly, you just need to dive in and do it! It took me awhile to start because the thought was pretty intimidating. But once I started, I realized how much I loved it. And that while, yes, it is a lot of work, it’s so worth it to do the thing I love and am passionate about.
Also never underestimate the contribution of friends and family. I would never have been able to do any of this if it weren’t for them. They are such a huge support system. They’ve done anything from getting me jobs, buying my stuff, modeling for me, supporting and encouraging me, to even critiquing me when I need it. I’m so thankful for them all.
Overall, when it comes right down to it, you just have to do what makes you happy. Sometimes that requires a bit of work, but in the long run, if you’re doing what you love, it’s worth it. You’ll never know until you try.
Thank you so much Leney for opening up your shop to us! If you want to check out Leney, there are several places you can find her. Her Etsy shop, A Girl Named Leney, her photography page and of course her blog. And for those of you that love to shop local AND support a great cause, 10% of her proceeds go to support the A21 Campaign, an organization that focuses on abolishing human trafficking in the 21st century. It’s a subject that Leney is passionate about, and her Etsy shop is a way of giving back and helping any way she can.
Images courtesy of A Girl Named Leney’s Etsy Shop