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Conversations with the Inspiring LeOndra “LeO” Bryant

Today we’d like to introduce you to LeOndra “LeO” Bryant.

LeOndra, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am from Memphis, TN but currently based in Phoenix, AZ. My brand is Loveur, designing lifestyle apparel for the free-spirited. I am an accountant by day and fashion designer by night. My passion, plus coffee, prayer, and meditation keep me going.

Loveur is a holistic creative brand. My brand believes in the good in everyone and wants everyone to believe in the good they have in themselves. Our philosophy is, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and self-love is key.” Meeting new people, creating new memories, and being surrounded by art is our lifestyle. From adopting pets from homeless shelters, attending music festivals and traveling in between, Loveur embraces living freely, working boldly and embracing lovingly

I created Loveur after my first Coachella festival, which was AMAZING, to say the least. I purchased every outfit believing I was going to stand out from the crowd. But low and behold, multiple women wore the same outfit that I had bought for the festival. So I had a thought, “We are all created uniquely and our clothes should be too.” From that moment on, I was inspired to design clothes that expressed the life I was designed to live. Like a fingerprint, no two designs are exactly alike. Similar to life, no two individuals are designed to live the same life; we are unique by design. Everyone is created for a specific purpose, which is why I started designing my life and creating lifestyle apparel to reflect it.

My new journey has led me to some amazing opportunities. I participated in my first fashion show as a designer this year at ASU’s Uncertainty Show. The feeling of accomplishment I gained from that show was one I cannot describe; it was the encouragement I needed! Next, I worked with Dress for Success in partnership with Susan Casper, TV Host for Sonoran Living on ABC15. Then, I made a superhero outfit for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Power Play, where I partnered with a patient and designed/created a one-of-a-kind superhero suit. Most recently, I completed Phoenix Fashion Week’s Digital Designer Bootcamp! Through the bootcamp, I really learned how to establish my brand, Loveur.

Everything I have accomplished thus far in fashion began with fear of uncertainty. Through each experience, I’ve found courage in myself to overcome it all. I’ve developed confidence in my designs, merging my passion for fashion and promoting positivity. I’m happy with the journey I started and the progress I’ve made. Loveur has allowed me to share this happiness. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it.” Every step I’ve taken has allowed me to blend modern designs with festive wear, embodying my vision with innovation as I continue to develop as an emerging designer.

Has it been a smooth road?
The most challenging part of this journey is dealing with my doubts, fears and believing that my achievements are just pure luck. Believe it or not, this struggle is called “imposter syndrome”. According to psychology today, it’s not an actual disorder, but basically, it is the belief “that despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have.”

I know right! I am not going to lie but that’s pretty deep and hard for me to share publicly. I believe by sharing this it will help me heal and hopefully encourage someone else. For a long time, I have let my fears limit my courage by not going after my dreams or opportunities. I put off pursuing fashion because I feared of being a failure. Now that I am actually going after my dreams, the doubts creep in trying to tell me that I do not deserve it.

So, I started meditating, This has helped me tremendously by keeping my thoughts in check and reminds me that I am here for a reason. My worth is not based on what people put on me, my value flows from the inside out. However, there are times when I lean on the most popular advice given “Fake it until you make it”. There is no point in waiting until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Remember courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. You will be amazed at what you attract after you start believing in what you deserve.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into LOVEUR story. Tell us more about the business.
Loveur is a contemporary festival inspired clothing brand. Designed to bring art directly to your skin, it exemplifies not just who you are but who you are designed to be! Our philosophy is to love yourself, love others and design your life. Through sustainable up-cycled collaborations, the brand expresses social and environmental responsibility for our planet. Promoting self–love through fashion shows and fine arts learning programs for children in hospitals and after school programs. Loveur’s ultimate goal is to be the leading apparel brand for festivals around the world.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I was seven years old when my mother taught me how to sew a button. From then on, I was intrigued. I would sneak into my closet with a needle and an old towel, practicing my hand-stitching. Soon after, I got bored of hand-stitching on towels, I wanted to make things. So, I found old socks that no longer had mates. From there, I would cut and design them for my Barbie’s clothes, including Ken! I never got bored of making their clothes – I think I just felt too old to play with Barbie’s.

Fast forward at 13 years old and I am drawing “Bratz” doll figures with big heads and stylish clothes. I would draw these dolls and design their clothes, I continued to draw these figures throughout high school. While looking for colleges to attend, I considered going to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in California, unfortunately, I decided not to apply because I did not feel confident in myself to be a fashion designer. In an industry that’s creative and free-spirited, it is assumed that it is difficult to make a wealthy living. Instead, I applied to ASU’s Accountancy program to receive a more steady, job-secure career. I’m glad I did because ASU has given me the platform, confidence, and second chance to allow the little girl in me to be the fashion designer she’s always dreamed.

During my first year of college, I took one sewing class and loved it so much that I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas! However, I never used it because I needed to focus on graduating; pursuing accounting was tougher than I thought. As a result, my sewing machine and clothing designs laid dormant… until Coachella 2017. That music festival reignited a passion I had shelved long ago.

The Fall of 2017, I was approaching my 5th year as a business professional. During this time, I felt my plan to be in graduate school and getting an MBA sailing away from reach. I had extended my 1-year break from school to four. I had just received the results from my recent GMAT attempt and did not feel my scores were enough.

Instead of being completely bummed about my situation, I made an impulse decision to apply for Arizona State University’s new Fashion Program. After holding myself back for so many years, I decided to take a moment and live freely. After submitting my application for ASU’s Fashion Program, I left it to faith. Once I received my acceptance letter, my approach to this opportunity was… “this was all just for fun!” I had no pressure going into this program. I felt free to make mistakes, try new things, and most importantly live freely. I’m reminded that this is my path, my journey and all the things I let hold me back in the past will not hold me back now.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jett Poncy Photography (took the group photo of 7 models), Darryl Brown (took the 3 individual photos of 1 of colorful jacket, 1 of glitter top oufit, and 1 of the patchwork pants), Always Timesless Production (took the photos of my fiance’ and I wearing custom couple loveur outfits)

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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