Customer Highlight: Leah Yard Designs

Some may say that running your own business is similar to riding a roller coaster – a lot of ups and downs and full of surprises. One surprise for me is that Borboleta would connect me to so many wonderful, like-minded entrepreneurs all over the world. Some became my friends. Some even visited me when I lived in the US, in Italy and in Thailand. Some I haven’t had a chance to meet (yet!) but came to admire. Leah is one of them. Leah is a talented jewelry designer based in Vancouver, Canada. I asked Leah to share her experience running her own brand on our blog, because learning from and growing with each other is a fundamental belief at Borboleta.
Veronica: Hi Leah! Tell us about your background and the inspiration behind your jewelry brand.
Leah: My name is Leah Yard, and I am a jewellery designer in Vancouver, Canada. I always tell people that I was born in Calgary, Alberta; but not raised anywhere specific! My family moved often while I was growing up, so there isn’t a particular place I could call my hometown. Having visited Vancouver as a child I have always been drawn to it; so I am happy to consider it home! I have been making jewellery for over 10 years. It was in one of the small towns we lived in along the way that I met a local jeweller who would trade jewellery lessons for help at her kiosk.  I remember the first time I had supplies of my own to design with – it was such a thrill.  I’ve never lost that excitement while designing, so I knew I had to make it my career!
I finally decided to take the plunge and turn it into a business 5 years ago.  I love to work with my hands and with beautiful materials. Creating my own dream job was the best decision I’ve ever made. My biggest inspiration has always been colour!
Usually I see a new colour or gemstone that I fall in love with, and then build the corresponding pieces within that colour palette.  I have a general “goosebump” rule – if a particular colour combination or stone gives me goosebumps, then I know it’s meant to be! I would say the Leah Yard Designs aesthetic is definitely Classic Glamour!
The filigree style within the line adds a vintage touch.  I try not to follow trends too closely, as I want to create timeless designs that can be loved for years and make the wearer feel celebrated. The pieces are meant to be mixed and matched, so every woman can express her personal style. I love to see the designs paired with torn jeans and a crisp white top, or a classic little black dress.
I work exclusively with natural gemstones and semi-precious materials, including Green and Pink Amethyst, Clear and Smokey Quartz, Topaz, and mixed metals. Each piece is handmade from beginning to end in my studio.
Veronica: What are your your successes and failures as an artist and an entrepreneur?
Leah: Oh my goodness where to start! I am not sure if all artists can relate to this: but I feel as though artistic success and failure blend together – it seems you really can’t have one without the other. My business has truly been one big “trial and error” endeavour! I would say my biggest success is my current collection. It took about 6 months to design, but there are days that I feel it has taken my whole life to finalize the complete line.  Each new experience has shaped my vision, each part-time job along the way has shaped my work ethic and abilities, and each season shapes my inspiration. My biggest failure was listening to and believing the wrong people in the beginning.  Everyone has an opinion when you are starting a business, and I took on all the negative “worst-case-scenario” beliefs.  This made starting very difficult, and truly limited my creativity. It’s a hard trap to fall into, and one I still struggle with.  I think following your dream requires a bit of naïveté!
Veronica: How do you nurture your creativity when you also have to run a business?
Leah: I am very structured and routine with almost all aspects of my business – except when it comes to the designing! I have to allow myself to be free with my creativity, and if I get an idea in the middle of the night for a new piece, then I get out of bed and start a prototype! Of course there are times when I need to focus on other things, but I do my best to give myself full creative freedom. I usually get my best ideas at the most inconvenient times!
Veronica: What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?
Leah: My biggest piece of advice would be to find a supportive and like-minded community. When you are encouraged by your peers, friends, or family, anything is possible. I think as entrepreneurs we spend a lot of our days doubting ourselves, especially if we work alone. It’s hard not to get stuck in your own head! If I could go back to the beginning of my business, I would have focused more on building community, instead of assuming I had to do everything alone. I love to see entrepreneurs support each other in their own field; it truly says a lot about both their business and personal intentions.
Veronica: What are your favorite spots in Vancouver?
Leah: I love our neighbourhood!  We live in the West End in Vancouver.  It is an older part of the city with beautiful heritage buildings and tree-lined streets.  I love to walk through the neighbourhood down to English Bay.  It’s my favourite spot in the city, and impossible to resist inspiration while sitting by the water!
Veronica: What Borboleta bag do you own and what do you like / love about it?
Leah: I own two of the Mini Treasure Bags!
I have a Black and Gold version which I love for winter – it is such a durable little bag and I am amazed at how well it stands up against the Vancouver rain! My second one is in a custom colour: Lavender, which I use in the summer. I love these little bags so much. The design is adorable, and the perfect size. I do most of my errands on foot, so it is the perfect bag for every day. They are lightweight and stylish, hold everything I need, and comfortably fit across the body so I can keep both hands free. The details are lovely and so well thought out, right down to the patterned lining!
Veronica: What is your definition of a perfect day?
Leah: I am definitely a morning person, so my perfect day would start by getting up early and getting to work in my studio! After a full morning of design and getting caught up I would love to go for lunch with my partner, followed by a walk and coffee by the water. I am a true homebody, so my favourite days often end with a movie at home paired with wine and popcorn!
Veronica: Sounds like a perfect day for me, too! Thanks, Leah!
Checkout Leah’s beautiful jewelry brand here.