behind the scenes with the woman, the myth, the legend: elisabeth leonard
elisabeth is the special projects manager for rebecca minkoff [a role she balances with that of #workwife] and the other half of the female founder collective! there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes of ffc, so we’re taking you #bts with the one who makes it all happen. but first, in true team blankbox fashion, a story…
we first applied to the female founder collective when it was completely new…and so were we. we emailed elisabeth saying we weren’t sure if we qualified to join as we had just launched, but to let us know what we had to do to be part of it. this was word for word her response: “don’t sell yourself short! you are FOUNDERS and there is power in that. big or small, a founder is a founder; and that’s something you should be proud of. we’re all in this together, we need to support each other in order to make a change! that being said, we’d love to have you be a part of the collective!”
this is one of those moments we won’t ever forget. the first time someone included us at the table, and the last time we ever assumed we weren’t part of it. we love you, elisabeth! without further ado…
start from the beginning…from birth. only kidding. how did you meet rebecca and start working on the rebecca minkoff team?
i actually started as a temp receptionist at the company! it was only meant to be a three-month situation, but that changed quickly! rebecca and i had an immediate connection, and from the first day i met her, i knew she was someone i wanted to learn from and work with.
one of the very first things rebecca told me was that “no is just the beginning of yes”. since that day, it’s always stuck with me. after my first few months as the receptionist, i took on the role of being ea to the ceo, cfo, president and rm. being the receptionist taught me a lot of things that i’ve carried with me to where i am today.
i took all of my earlier roles as an opportunity to learn as much as i could. when you’re starting out, you can’t be afraid to ask questions. do all the jobs—no matter how “small” they might seem; that is where you will learn incredible lessons that will serve you well later in your career.
how would you describe her leadership style? from your perspective, what else do you think makes the brand so successful?
one of the greatest things about rebecca is she leads with compassion and empowerment. she isn’t possessive of accomplishments. when you’re on a team, everyone is in it together. rebecca always celebrates wins as a team, never as one person. rebecca is also a great listener. there’s a difference between leadership and being a boss. leaders show you what to do and bosses tell you what to do. and rebecca is always showing, teaching and helping others to learn more.
one of the most important lessons rebecca has ever taught me is “no is just the beginning of yes”. don’t give up. don’t be afraid to ask questions. keep striving for what you’re passionate about!
what’s your favorite personal mantra and how has it helped shape your life?
don’t stop until you’re proud!– if you knew today was your last day, would you be happy with what you’re doing? if the answer is no, then change it. do what makes you happy. and live each day without denying your happiness. so, dream big, go after your dreams, do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be.
get out there and show the world what you’re made of. there is no right or wrong way to exist. being human is messy. find glory in your own beautiful mess + be proud of who you are.
let’s talk female founder collective! how did the idea come about and what’s your role within the team?
the idea for the ffc came out of a meeting that rebecca was in where she was trying to work with only female founded companies and realized there was no way to find them easily. she then came across a study by berlin cameron that said the 82% of women are more likely to support female founded companies if they only knew how. that proved to rebecca that a symbol or a seal for consumers to recognize would be key for us to find ways to support and give our money to female founders.
i focus a lot on community + brand partnerships as well as the growth of the community, but i love to help with anything and everything i can! i’m so lucky that i get to work alongside one of the most badass female entrepreneurs i know who also doubles as my work wife, rebecca minkoff!
as the co-leader of ffc, you see badass, successful women every day. what do you think makes a brand successful and can you share some “best practices” you’ve seen from ffc brands?
success can be defined in so many ways. i think it’s important to remain humble and hardworking, be confident and believe in what you’re doing. if you don’t, who else will? you can never get comfortable in your own knowledge; it’s important to learn every day. and there is always more work to be done!
one of the greatest practices that i have watched our members display is the power of collaboration. the amount of support these women provide for one another is truly admirable.
rebecca shared where she sees ffc in 5 years – tell us where you see it going + how it’s changed from today?
i agree with rebecca. we really hope to have conquered bigger milestones, such as the seal being used and known by consumers to change consumer shopping behavior. the ffc seal lets everyone know that a woman is in charge! i hope that the collective will continue to grow, not only in the us, but globally, and that this community encourages not only women, but everyone, to buy and support women owned businesses.
i hope we see a big consumer adoption and acceptance of the ffc symbol that changes their buying decisions.
how do you balance having roles at rebecca minkoff and at ffc? how do these roles differ?
“the most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.” – dwight d. eisenhower
a few months ago, i read an article about eisenhower’s urgent/important matrix. the basic premise is pretty simple: some tasks are urgent, and others are not. when you organize those, you make better use of your time.
while it may not always feel like it, i’ve learned that there is a big difference between urgent and important. this way of thinking helped me learned how to separate the things that absolutely need to get done from the things that i really want to get done. this concept has played a huge role in how i balance my two roles.
my role at ffc is more of a managerial role while at rm, i am part of a larger team. i have the best of both worlds!
what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from a female founder you’ve met through ffc? any advice you’d give to women thinking to start their own business?
the women of ffc in general have shown me firsthand the power of collaboration over competition; advice: take every opportunity and make the best of it. you never know where it may lead!
favorite piece in the rm collection: bree belt bag
female founder who inspires you: jen gotch
favorite me-time activity: binge watching greys anatomy with a nice glass of wine and tons of candles!
favorite nyc restaurant: rubirosa (best damn pizza!)
go-to brands (other than rm): alala, terez, nike, lively, eberjey
introvert or extrovert: extrovert, most of the time!
fun fact about you that most people don’t know: i currently live and work remotely from santiago, chile!