Since the age of 20 Leana moved from a small town to a big city with high hopes of making an impact in the fashion industry with little money and lots of ideas.
Her first attempt to sell accessories was cut short but got a big purchase order with a well known retailer. While that was a great stepping stone, it was not enough and her path moving forward was met with a lot of obstacles, dishonesty and disappointments and gave up on her dreams somewhere along the way, settled down, had kids and fell into the mom trap most moms do. One morning, she woke up and realized she was not happy and the only person that could change that was her! She signed up for Pilates and instantly fell in love. Pilates strengthened her mind and body and reawakened her desire to create. From this came a love of designing grip socks and AREBESK was born!
1. You are a busy mom with 2 young kids - why did you decide to start your own company?
Arebesk, a line of active wear socks where aesthetics meets functionality, has been a long journey in the making. A journey I never thought I would embark on once I got married and had kids. I was busy, I was exhausted and I felt I had lost a part of my identity because I no longer was able to afford the time to think, create and execute my plans and ideas. It’s a familiar trap many mothers fall into. I love being a mom, but I still held on to my dream of seeing my ideas and creations blossom into a successful business.
The inspiration for Arebesk came after I signed up for Pilates at Eden Sassoon Pilates. I had never worked out before and couldn’t even do two sit-ups. I made a deal with myself to commit to a week of Pilates. A week was enough. I was hooked. After a few more weeks, I noticed my mind and body felt stronger. I became more confident and gained a clearer perspective just by taking the time for self-care and reflection. One day during my work out, I looked down at my feet and thought how plain the grip socks looked and instantly had an idea for fish netting grip socks! I went home that night and cut up some fish net panty hose I owned and saw how sexy the material looked against cotton socks and right there Arebesk Phish Net grip socks was born. Arebesk – originally spelled arabesque- is an homage to the first move I learned in Pilates, a sweeping of the leg backwards, a term used in dance. I was overwhelmed with excitement. I believed in the product instantly and knew what I had to do. It is really important to understand the market you are designing for. Because I understood the workout, I was able to create a sock that made sense. The silicone design under the sock has two large half circles on the ball and heel of the foot to help have better traction on the reformer or mat. I heard many women complaining that they lose their socks all the time and didn’t want to store dirty socks in their bag after a workout. After a lot of research, I design and patent a carrying bag, included with each pair that can double as a wash bag to help resolve this problem.
You can see her products here.
What are some of the characteristics you want to instill in your daughter? son?
For me, as a mom of 2 and business owner it is so important for my kids to see a mother who takes care of herself physically and mentally as well as instill important values in them for work and life. I involve my kids with Arebesk as much as I can so they can see how hard one has to work to achieve, make money and give back. In this day and age where kids are handed things so easily and so many opportunities are available that once were not it important they understand that they are privileged and should not take it for granted. Being kind and grateful are valued my parents instilled in me and I am doing my best to teach this to my kids.
How does exercise fit into your schedule even when you are traveling?
Exercise is crucial for anyone to maintain a healthy mind and body. For me, Pilates helps motivate me, makes me feel strong both body and mind and I do it almost everyday. I think everyone should find a workout they love and do it everyday. When traveling, I like to take in the new surroundings as much as I can so love to walk around and discover new places, or even go on a hike depending on the location.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would want to go to the United Arab Emirates. UAE has been on my bucket list for a while. Always wanted to go sand surfing and see the beautiful architecture.
How do you get your travel fix in now that you are a mom of two young kids and have your own company?
When my kids were younger we really didn’t travel much and did a lot of local trips that were not more than 1-2 hours away. Now that they are older and it has become a bit easier to get around, we love taking trips within the United States for a long weekend. My husband and I both work so we can’t go away for too long but 3-4 day or long weekend getaways are what we try to do as much as we can and traveling within the U.S. is always fun. The kids get to see different states and see how other people live outside of California!
What does success mean to you?
Making it this far is a huge milestone for me. I moved to Los Angeles from a small town in upstate New York with just a few hand-made samples and big dreams of making it in the fashion industry. With no experience and no connections, I researched and worked for years in marketing, PR, event planning and retail and in between figured out how to start my own line of accessories. I pitched my line to many local stores and was told no many times before landing my first big purchase order from Charlotte Russe.
But the fashion industry is a beast. The road to success was hard to navigate and the competition fierce. I had my fair share of rejections, disappointment and defeat but in hindsight, I learned a lot from those experiences and I am able to use those past experiences to grow Arebesk correctly this time around. With alot of hard work and hustle, Arebesk is now in over 60 Pilates, Yoga and Barre studios across the USA and now selling in Singapore and Italy.
Giving back in a big part of Arebesk's mission - why?
I feel that I’ve been given a great opportunity to give back to the community. Making sure homeless kids have the basic supplies they need to get the education they deserve is a charity close to my heart. Arebesk will donate a portion of proceeds to put together backpacks with school supplies for homeless kids in public schools. We work with several organizations and social workers including School On Wheels a non profit downtown LA helping homeless kids with their education and needs to achieve.
The best feeling in the world for me is designing a product, seeing people wearing it and being able to give back.
Click here to see some of Leana's top picks on our site.