16 October 2012

Fashion Professional Profile


Not too long ago I interviewed the wonderful Leesa Butler, a Canadian Professional in the Toronto Fashion Industry, here is a little biography about her and her work...


        Leesa Butler, an American born Canadian, can be found all over Toronto; managing a gifting service during TIFF, running a fashion blog and teaching the rules of social media to professionals. Focusing her time on promoting Canadian designers in the fashion industry, Leesa “appreciates the underdog” and understands the challenges they face to get a name known. Facing daily challenges herself, Leesa balances her work life and personal life as well as maintaining her 500 plus relationships.  In her own personal style, Leesa admires vintage and one of a-kind pieces, as displayed in her work, which is inspired by her everyday life. 

Fig. 2 Leesa & Jake

         Growing up, Leesa lived all over the United States including Maryland, Baltimore, Pennsylvania and New York City. After falling in love with the fast pace of New York City, and wanting a change Leesa saw Toronto’s potential in becoming an up and coming city. In the early 2000s, Leesa found herself becoming a regular visitor to Toronto, as a newlywed to Jake Gold who worked primarily in Toronto and had family living here. Desiring everything New York had to offer, but in a smaller more condensed environment, she wanted to live near the parks and a transport system, without having to “sacrifice the night life and cosmopolitan vibe” from New York. She found this in the multicultural city of Toronto.

         With a wide variety of work experience in advertising, public relations and marketing, Leesa has used her skills from all of these to create her three companies. Divine Lab, specializing in marketing consultant and digital marketing events was first created to familiarize herself with the World Wide Web and teaching others this knowledge through social media training. “Usually the mandate is ‘we need to be on twitter’ and they start throwing tweets out but they don’t really know what they’re doing with it… I just walk people through how that works, how do you reply to people [and] what kind of content [they] should be throwing out there”. Leesa teachers the most effective way to use social media including Twitter, Facebook, blogs and Instagram to gain interest from followers and build a fan base. Leesa believes that social media and the web have helped her companies achieve success by giving her the opportunities to connect with people she has never met face to face, and being able to promote to such a “vast population of people.” She continues to develop her expertise in this industry, as well as updating many of her own profiles.

Fig. 3 a snapshot from The F-list blog
Leesa has always had an interest for writing, however after graduating from advertising and public relations she was unable to break out as a writer. This influenced her decision to create TheF-list, a fashion blog focusing on Canadian designers and local fashion events. Deciding to promote Canadians on The F-list was a simple choice, knowing that the media coverage for these designers is minimal and their potential to sell is a challenge. In comparison to the United States, Leesa has noticed that the lack of retail opportunities for independent designers is a direct result of boutiques being unwilling to take a risk and sell their merchandise. Using her digital media background and her coverage of fashion week and other events, Leesa has been posting on The F-list for the past six years.

Fig. 4 The gifts from TIFF 2012 Tastemakers Lounge
        Leesa collaborated with her friend Debra Goldblatt to create Tastemakers Lounge at TIFF after the “lack of vision in gift giving.” She believes working with a friend, means an open relationship where both sides have to be honest with one another.  Leesa is also on the board of Fashion Group International, an organization that was founded in 1928 when the need for a fashion forum and a way to express the significance of the women’s role in the business was required. In both companies, Leesa enjoys the energy from the group environment and gets inspired by the people around her.

Fig. 5 Leesa's dog Marlon
 Having a busy lifestyle Leesa likes to find quiet time, where she “unplugs for a while”, either taking her dog for walks when she often finds inspiration for upcoming projects, or reading a book. Leesa would like to use her career, and help the next generation by mentoring them in making the right decisions and getting started in the fashion industry. In order to succeed she believes one must be forward and ask questions. 


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