Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Leonard.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am from North Little Rock, Arkansas, more specifically McAlmont, Arkansas. I am the second oldest of five kids (Tavarus, Latoria, Lecreisha, Christopher) and my oldest brother and I were raised by our cousin (Maxine Smith) and aunt (Mary Smith). We weren’t poor but we weren’t rich either. We always, well, only shopped on the sale and clearance racks and yard sales were a Saturday morning treasure hunt. While I hated getting up at 6am for garage sales, I now greatly appreciate the art of rummaging I learned from Aunt Mary and I must say that because of it my husband’s, my daughter’s and my wardrobe is 99% the best meticulously coupled clearance items as if they were exquisitely handcrafted showroom pieces. Rummage sales taught me that your treasure is what you make it, fashion is pre-owned but style is your character in clothes.
A good segue at this point would be to say that I went from rummaging to the runway; instead I went from garage sales to graduate school. Education has always been at the top of my values list; I read the dictionary for an hour a day as a child and considered law school after high school. Instead, I went to Westminster College in Fulton, MO and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Sport Psychology because I had decided I was going to teach Shaq how to shoot free throws. I was intrigued at how Bill Russell, wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal were chart-toppers in the best and worst way. Yet, I switched my focus and gained my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Stephens College in Columbia, MO. I always knew that a terminal degree was my goal, so I moved to Rancho Cucamonga, CA to complete my doctoral degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ll be honest, I thought Rancho Cucamonga was a made up name for the Next Friday movie. Once I moved to California, I was more shocked at all of the cities within a city from Rancho to LA. With weekly trips to downtown LA and the fashion district, I became more and more fascinated by the stark resemblance of the fashion district to my rummaging days. I started paying close attention to fashion affairs all while writing research papers on infidelity amongst African American married couples, cultural differences within the African American community and stigmas and misconceptions of mental health and mental health services.
After I gave birth to my daughter Cinai, I began styling and she became my muse. By day I was using behavior analysis to influence behavior and by night on set, styling and working with other artistic minds to create.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been an interesting road to learning the business and I am grateful and extremely blessed to experience and balance fashion and therapy. I can only thank God for the grace to work full time and have the opportunity to connect with so many great people in the industry outside of my day job. My husband is the most supportive person in the world and without him I wouldn’t be able to switch hats and live out my passions. One of the most challenging things as a creative is having an entire look/vision in mind and it not existing with any designer; I suppose though that is where designers are birthed.
That Style Doctor – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have done set design, wardrobe styling, personal styling, consulting and creative directed on a range of projects including music videos, photography and editorial features. I am a wardrobe stylist and I have the most fun styling kids, I draw so much inspiration from my daughter’s looks and style, it’s amazing how much inspiration kids fashion brings to adult fashion. Men’s and women’s fashion is fun and I especially enjoy the collaboration, vision casting and seeing the vision come to life through artistic minds.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
That I believed in myself enough, worked my faith and went after my passion, even if that included more paths than one. I want to show my daughter that whatever she sets her mind to she can do. This may sound like a cheap colloquialism but, the only limitation on what or how many things you can do is yourself. I have had the pleasure of getting to know and working with Dr. Kelvin Frazier and I am honored to have had the opportunity to glean from an amazing artist. It’s so cool too that we are both pursuing doctoral and artistic paths simultaneously.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @thatstyledoctor