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Conversations with the Inspiring Leslie Antonoff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Antonoff.

Leslie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Wow! Well, I’ll do my best to keep it detailed AND short, haha. Where I am now is a result of hard work, the belief of a dear friend, and refusing to give up. I knew early on in life that I was an entrepreneur, having started my first business at eight years old. Looking back on those days I realize I was always focused on trying to solve problems to make life easier for others. Whether that was something as small as snack packs, I made from food in my own pantry or writing a television show that is pushing forward representation and challenging the status quo.

My education at Howard University is certainly something to attribute to where I am and who I am. Those years spent being pushed forward by my peers and encouraged by my professors certainly gave me the courage to know that nothing could stop me. Howard is a place that teaches you to find and secure your yes by any means necessary and that a no simply means you need to keep asking.

I believe where I am now is just the beginning, and I’m excited about the journey.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha! NO. Throughout college, I struggled with learning how to be social and balance my academics. Though in high school I was an athlete who played on multiples teams and easily sailed through school with very high grades, college humbled me. I didn’t know how to study because everything came very easily to me, I didn’t go to an easy high school, but for whatever reason, I was slightly out of my element when I first got to Howard. There was so much beauty it distracted me! Hahaha.

Then I got extremely sick my junior year to the point that I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t leave my house for three months – I got the best grades of my tenure at Howard. Ain’t that something?! But it just proved what I knew all along; I needed to focus. I don’t regret any of my experiences though because I needed them. I needed to feel free and able to live life loudly.

Then in my last semester of school, I got pregnant and also didn’t get financial aid to finish school thus causing me to have to leave. I did finish my degree though within a year, so it didn’t derail me, it only gave me more to fight for. The recession also was a huge factor in pushing me toward full-time entrepreneurship. Being broke, needing to care for your child, and also not wanting to be stuck working in some job I had no zest for thrusting me into creating the life I wanted for myself.

My advice to other women — keep going. No matter how difficult the road ahead may seem it can’t be treacherous forever. There is a win on the other side of the losses that are seemingly holding you back.

What should we know about The Hautemommie? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a multi-hyphenate creative. I host a culinary television show called Butter + BROWN on Aspire, which is Magic Johnson’s cable network. I own a collegiate apparel company called, Sweet Knowledge Clothing Company, that specializes in creating stylish clothing for HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) students, alumni, and supporters. Finally, I am a writer/influencer/blogger being The Hautemommie; my blog where I touch on how to keep an element of chic in everything from travel to motherhood to entrepreneurship.

I’m most proud of carving out my space in the world and making continuous strides every day. It isn’t easy to work for yourself and make money. To contribute to your home and support your family. I’m proud to do that. I’m proud that I was able to bring others with me and that I can encourage other women and men to take a leap.

I believe what sets me apart from others is my belief in myself. I don’t fear failing or making a mistake because I know that I am capable of getting back up and getting what I came for. You never have to worry that I won’t make it happen – because I will.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
You aren’t married to that job. Meaning you can try it out, hate it and get another one. Also, give to yourself the same way you give to the company you’re working for – no holds barred, no days off, working lunches. Because you can give your all to someone else’s dream and they can fire you at will. But you can’t fire you; you can’t get rid of you, you have to invest in you. If you’re not happy, then seek and redefine until you are.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
RSee Photography, Aspire, Erika Doss

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