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#GirlBOSS: Karissa Lindsay of A Leap of Style

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How would you describe your personal style? Whether it’s a steady rotation of sheath dresses (me!) or a power pantsuit (what’s up, Hillary?), what you wear says a LOT about you. And if colorful, creative African prints are your thing, then you’ll definitely want to check out A Leap of Style.

Founded by Houston designer Karissa Lindsay in 2013, A Leap of Style began with a love of fashion and a dream. But before she took a leap of faith and kickstarted her career as a fashion designer (literally), Karissa first discovered her passion in middle school.

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“My mom was a hardcore shopper, and I inherited her love for beautiful things at an early age,” she explains. “I still have one of my first sketch books from high school when I was really certain I’d pursue a career in design.”

After trading a “ridiculous relationship for an awesome relationship with Christ,” Lindsay turned lemons into lemonade and began designing the beautiful, bold African pieces her fans (myself included) have come to know and love.

Get to know more about Karissa below:

I absolutely love the name of your company! What was the inspiration behind it?

The name A Leap of Style has a kind of two-part meaning. First and foremost, there is the obvious play on the phrase “a leap of faith.” Everything about this business has been small and huge leaps of faith for me. From my first fashion presentation to getting into my first boutique three months in and leaving my career in education to pursue design full-time – it’s all been by faith. Secondly, it takes a little bit of risk to wear a bold print. Black is comfortable and safe, as are other solids. Fashion magazines warn us against wearing stripes in the wrong direction, but they’re fairly safe as well. But an African print? You will stand out, so you’ve got to be ready to take a leap of style.

So true! Your designs are not for the faint of heart.  What’s your personal design philosophy?

My design philosophy is rooted in my personal mission and that is to empower and inspire women through fashion. I believe the best way to do that is to design clothing that makes women feel powerful, yet definitely feminine and beautiful. I’m always concerned about the fit of a garment and whether we can get it perfect for our customers – I want every piece to be as flattering as possible. I think that makes the most difference in something you’d buy at Target versus buying from a small business like A Leap of Style. We’re more concerned with getting fit and quality right than with producing en masse.

Amen to that! And I can personally attest to this philosophy after receiving so many compliments whenever I wear your Rules of Engagement Dress.

What challenges did you have to overcome to make your dream come true?
I’ve got to be honest in that there are many challenges I have to overcome daily in this journey. I think so many entrepreneurs put out this message that you just get your freedom and go live your dream and you live happily ever after. And in the short of it, that is true to an extent. I battle with uncertainty and fear all the time. I’m open about that because I don’t think enough people in business are. People ask me how do I deal with the haters, and I tell them, the biggest hater you have to deal with is yourself. To believe in yourself and your product to this insane level that you just know you will succeed is the thing that will help you rise above any challenge. Working on that mindset is the greatest challenge for me.

Most definitely. Sometimes you’re your own worst enemy. What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?

My faith definitely keeps me going. I really believe that I’m living out my life’s purpose through this business. I’ve been able to impact so many people along the way and that keeps me going. I have several women who I mentor in some capacity and knowing that they are both empowered and inspired by me is often enough to reenergize myself.  If I didn’t believe in God and that He’s given me a purpose, I probably would have given up. On the “practical side,” if I need to recenter myself, I go back to my goals and data and work on what will make the numbers move. Emotions lie, but numbers don’t. So if I can work the numbers, it brings me back into the work of it all and not the feeling of wanting to give up.

That’s wonderful. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I’m a huge believer that you’ve got to at least take a step first to see if your idea will work and then persist at it. So my first piece advice is to just get started! Don’t sit on your ideas. The second thing I’d tell an aspiring entrepreneur is to connect with like-minded people whether they are mentors or colleagues. Find the people who are skills in the areas you’re lacking and get their input.
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Great advice! What words of wisdom would you share with yourself five years ago? 
Ha! So much! Five years ago, I was 25 and on the cusp of a quarter-life crisis. I wish I’d known then that it was okay to take more risks and that I really could build a life I enjoyed through my creativity. I wish I’d known that once I really started using my gifts, I’d be 100x happier. I wouldn’t have spent so much time in a career that seemed right, but didn’t drive me.
To learn more about Karissa and see her latest collection, visit aleapofstyle.com.
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