East Croydon Cool talks… is a blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts. This month we chatted to Leora (Leo) Moreno, the owner of Leo with Love to learn a little more about the world of Jewellery Design.
Leo With Love is a handmade jewellery company founded by Leora in 2016. All the pieces are inspired by and named after the women in her life. The line is designed to accessorise women’s confidence, and future plans for the business include hosting talks and events to inspire more women to take the plunge into business.
1) How did you get into Jewellery design?
My background is actually in marketing, but I made jewellery as a hobby – more as gifts for friends and family. I started taking classes a few years ago to brush up on my skills and really enjoyed making a wearable piece of art that can be used to enhance an ensemble.
2) What made you start your own jewellery business?
I knew I always wanted to start a business, so made a pinky promise with my sister that we would start our respective businesses together when she recovered from a near-terminal illness. It really put into perspective what was important and what I wanted to do with my one certain chance in life. Thus, Leo With Love was born!
3) What were your biggest concerns when starting out on your own?
Totally had imposter syndrome and fear of failure. I think when you’re first starting your own business it’s easy to make comparisons to others, even if it’s not actually comparable. It’s such a big leap to be your own boss – suddenly wearing all the hats, doing your own taxes, working more hours than you would at a typical 9-5. But the sense of pride and fulfilment I’ve felt from watching my business grow from all the work I’ve put in is what keeps me motivated.
4) Why do you think so many independents are doing better than the high street?
Part of it is that people are shopping for investment pieces – not only are they willing to spend a bit more on something that will last, but they also want something that transcends fads and is a unique part of their individual style. The other part of it is having easy access to the story and person behind the label, their passion – you’re not just buying from a large, faceless company.
5) How important is social media to your business?
It is super important! So many people find me through Instagram and Pinterest. I recently did my first pop up store in Covent Garden and I met a girl from France there who follows Leo With Love on IG. She came to the store to meet me and see the jewellery IRL because she saw my posts on social media – that blew my mind! That is the power of social media in action. Part of LWL is to use my brand as an example to others that if you have confidence in yourself, are willing to put in the hours and constantly be learning – you can reach your goals too! I often post quotes from females from every facet of life, from astrophysicists to legendary designers, that I use to stay motivated in hopes that it keeps other motivated too!
6) Which independent designers do you admire?
Katherine Brunacci from KAB Jewellery in London, her style is very different to mine but she really knows what she’s doing! All designs are wax-carved first, then she adds precious stones to the intricate pieces she’s designed. Another designer is Vanessa Arthur from VLM Jewelry (yes, we spell it differently in the US lol) in LA, her aesthetic has that perfect balance between statement and minimalist looks, using precious metals and pearls. There’s really so many though! You can see the passion and love for what they do- it’s extremely motivating.
7) Where do you get your inspiration?
Each piece in my collection is inspired by the person it’s named after. These women have inspired me or influenced me in a positive way and I wanted to say thanks, what better way than to create jewellery based on their style and personality? I literally look at the type of jewellery they wear, what their style is, and see how I can couple that with my brand’s aesthetic. Haven’t gotten it wrong yet!
8) What materials do you work with?
I mostly work with brass, it’s light and great for those with sensitive skin because there’s no nickel in it. I have rose gold and silver plated versions for most of my collections, all have a super thick plating! It’s great because it keeps the more statement-like pieces as light-weight as the brass versions but you still get all the luxury.
9) How did an LA girl end up calling Croydon home?
I moved to England in 2007 to go to Oxford Brookes University, met my SO while there and we moved to East Croydon after graduating. Although Croydon is very different from LA, there’s something about this place that puts me at ease in the way a hometown would. It’s not perfect and the sun doesn’t have a permanent residence here – but it’s got all the salt, pepper, and spices of life that make it interesting (as my mom would say).
10) What does the future hold for Leo With Love?
LWL is an all-encompassing brand inspired by empowered females, for empowered females- from showing appreciation to the incredible women who inspired my collections to using quotes on social to feel confident. My jewellery is meant to be metaphorical armour to make things happen today, a little boost to be bold and finish off your outfit! But, I also want LWL to be a working example of what happens when you have confidence in yourself to step out of your comfort zone. That said, I’m going to be regularly posting IGTV videos about how to build confidence and want to start hosting talks in Croydon doing the same thing – helping those that want to step out of their comfort zone to move onto bigger things, but maybe need a little pep talk first.