We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Leigh Rodriquez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica Leigh, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk has been a part of my creative career since I began this path in my mid – twenties. My creativity and drive comes from a deep place within: autonomous, strong willed, knowing my own. This internal force drives me to take risk because I listen to my instinct and I am confident acting on my ambition and vision. It takes a tenacious strength to drive through the noise of the everyday social traffic with uniqueness, remaining true to vision, sharing with those who who take interest that I have something to share of genuine personal aesthetic with the flare from history intertwined. The intrinsic belief in my creative vision is a force that I can not deny. It pushes me to take entrepreneurial risk. I have taken many risks, I have excelled, I have failed, I have rebuilt and I have succeeded again. The life cycle risk creates when taken from an inner volition is a road paved with difficulty and beauty.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think my ability preceded me when I first started to draw and paint in my early twenties and into the first part of my fashion career. I began these disciplines with the sheer will of wanting to create and staying true to form, quality, and what I perceived in vision. I lacked some serious confidence in my early adult years, so I was blinded to own abilities. I just worked and worked and kept succeeding. Most people in the first years of fashion showed an ugly side to me from bad habit, pressure, stress, and … some may have just simply been ill. But most of those never attacked my ability. I continued to excel with increases to income rapidly as I became a person important to the overall creative vision of companies; hence paid to either stay within a crazy fashion atmosphere or lured away to another company with a great increase to leave the previous company. Then, that rate of chaos became unfulfilling. I also experienced what it meant to make such a high salary and work until the late hours of night or early hours of the morning….both the same. I decided to become an independent contractor and consultant well within 15 years of my career to have the ability to control my life a bit more and to be with my baby who needed me. Around this same time, I was driven to start my own designer apparel collection because I couldn’t merge my true vision with other companies, and I couldn’t postpone my vision any longer. Creative vision, the driving force to treat people with respect and offer a better environment in fashion, and enjoy driving growth up ultimately started the second half of my career. I worked two full positions as an independent contractor, traveling from New York, Singapore, and China, saving to open my own design studio. I did this successfully from 2013 to mid 2018, naming the studio California New Work. I designed, developed, and ran production for other brands alongside my own. I had a beautiful studio in downtown Los Angeles that I was so proud of. At the end of Summer in 2017, I recognized that I was still not following my creative vision fully which was knocking at my door loudly now then ever before. I realized I had to continue the growth in personal confidence and inner well being. In early 2018 fashion hit a challenging time. I had two large clients leave due to their unexpected decreases in sales and challenges and I decided to close instead of continue on not truly following my own vision. I stopped drinking September 5th, 2017, about 9 months before I closed my studio, It was this pivotal decision that gave me strength and pushed me forward. My mind never ceases. I have a hard time sleeping, but I chose this over the intoxication. Now, I have rebuilt! I have a full collection, at designer level, no previous business debt, a very creative lifestyle, truly my vision, and it has been well received. I have a wonderful home studio and work with contractors, cutting and sewing, making my collection for the agency showroom. I have launched my website, have pieces of my collection in high level photoshoots, and have a press release forth coming this early March. A newness to my career most welcome, envisioned with sincerity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh! I love going out for dinner and hanging out at amazing bars, with an awesome mock tail ;-). Here’s a one week itinerary (hopefully these places will remain open: Night one: La Petite Paris in downtown LA Night Two: The Edison Night Three: Cliff’s Edge in Silverlake Day Three: walking and shopping in South Pasadena Day Four: Visiting The LA County Museum of Art Day Five: Visiting the many art galleries in downtown LA and in the Miracle Mile. Day Six: Barbarix in Silverlake, and driving near the LA river. Day Seven: MOCA and The Blue Cow Cafe
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In my personal life, First, my husband, Chris Strompolos, who has championed me on and who has believed in me from the moment we met. My family, 5 beautiful sisters, and my mom whose daily love is always felt along with my steadfast stoic strong minded Dad. My cousin Angie who reminds me who I am. A few close friends who always believe in me no matter what; Wanda Arias, Paula Miller, Carmen Del Uriarte, Misty Gonzales, Peter Churchill, Georga Garside, and Lars Bunch. Ryman Arts; being on the board with this organization is a wonderful reminder of how I have grown and can share. Lastly, my child, Kes Phoenix who is an amazing orb of ingenuity, intellect, creativity and love. Professionally, a huge shout out to Ryman Arts; being on the board with this amazing organization is a wonderful reminder how I have grown and can share and that they believe in me. Jed Ardito at Hall Staffing in New York, for being a genuine supporter for years. Monica Dadivanian, a colleague for many years for which we have rode the wave of the fashion cycle supporting each other. Tash Greizen, founder of NOW PR LA, my PR agent, who always believes in me no matter what.
Linkedin: Monica Leigh Rodriquez
Facebook: Monica Leigh SVX and Monica Leigh Rodriquez
Thomas Louvagny Studiokoekart Natascha Unkart Isa Kohler (umlaut over the o – German) Kenz Lawren Tatiana Neva Christina Wilhelm Chris Strompolos KC Mussman Scott Andrew Mitchell Corinne Peitz Tracy Lozano Katy Rodriguez Wimberly