Today we’d like to introduce you to Leon Wu.
Leon, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’d dress in my father’s suits and dream of a more inclusive fashion world, one where I could wear whatever I wanted to wear and not be judged. As I grew older and entered the business world, time and again, I found it impossible to purchase suits that either fit my body, or could be purchased without demeaning remarks from the sales staff. I came to the realization that the only way to find a space that was safe, inventive, and inclusive of all queer identities was to create one. In 2013, along with a very passionate and ambitious team, I launched Sharpe Suiting out of my living room. We did it to serve the LGBTQ community.
We browsed fabrics and trim that would help make our friends and clients feel like their authentic selves. Within just one year of moonlighting success, Sharpe sold over 100 suits to both queer and straight, non-binary and cis-gendered. As news of us spread by word of mouth and our client base grew, we realized there was a viable need for Sharpe that extended beyond our Saturday afternoons.
I left my corporate IT & finance job to work alongside my team to take Sharpe to the next level, spearheading a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund our growth.
Since then we’ve been featured in the Huffington Post, AT&T Business Circle, ABC NEWS, BuzzFeed and the Wall Street journal. Our suits have been worn on the red carpet at Cannes, Oscars, Emmys, and featured in Top 40 music videos. Through the thousands of measurements, we’ve collected over the years, we’ve even customized software that can predict body metrics with up to 95% accuracy to better serve our e-commerce custom ready-to-wear clients. With Sharpe’s success, we’ve been able to donate over 70 suits to LGBTQ youth centers, non- profit fundraisers, universities, and queer prom students across the country.
In the last three and a half years, Sharpe has grown to be a top and nationally recognized clothing brand in the LGBTQ community, and today we expand even further into an ever-growing market through our Brand Ambassador program, allowing queer fashionistas and brand influencers throughout the country the ability to provide Sharpe suits to clients in their location.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Peaks and valleys are inevitable in any type of any growth path. This is especially true of an LGBTQ and POC-owned fashion startup!
Startups are not for everyone, thus our team has fluctuated and grown from a small group based in Los Angeles to a much larger matrixed team internationally. But there were times where the team was just a 2-person show. And, as the Founder, you must remain a constant pillar through ups and downs. Today, we have more than 15 team members globally working in various areas including: brand, marketing, operations, finance, production, sales and client service.
As an organization that not only provides service but also drives motivation and inspiration in a particular community (LGBTQ), our PR or marketing strategy has always been very grassroots, and often organically driven by the political climate that affects our community every day.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sharpe Suiting – what should we know?
Sharpe Suiting aims to be the unparalleled leader in the creation of custom-constructed luxury clothing for all body types and gender-identities, utilizing a clear understanding of our clients’ needs, cutting-edge technology, and our trademarked formula “Andropometrics” to provide the best fit based on how a client identifies. “We fit you” is our motto, and we stand by that. We want our clients to feel great expressing their truest self, not fitting into to some heteronormative fashion world mold.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We’ve had a lot of support from our community and also some key business advisors.
• Rachael McCrary (Business Advisor)
• Young Jun Kim (Legal Advisor)
• Sandeep Gupta (Advisor)
• Val Cooper (Advisor)
Team members who have made a significant impact in Sharpe Suiting.
• Antonio Soto (Creative Executive Director)
• Jillian Fisher (Director of Communications)
• Naserin Bogado (Social Media & Digital Marketing)
• Charles Poulson (Brand Strategy)
• Marcia Alvarado (Sharpe Brand Ambassador & Model)
Special thanks to:
• Anita Dolce Vita (DapperQ, Curve Magazine)
• Danielle Cooper (She’s a Gent Influencer / Blogger)
• Robyn Vie-Carpenter (Lesbian Socialite)
• Niki Ang (BuzzFeed Video)
The biggest shoutout of all goes to our clients, community and LGBTQ family. You are and continue to be the reason we Stay Sharpe.
- BEPOKE CUSTOM-CONSTRUCTED SUITS: 2-piece suit/tux for $1550; 3-piece suit/tux for $1750. BESPOKE SINGLE GARMENTS: Blazers for $1125; Trousers for $425; Vests for $330; Custom Dress Shirts for $185.
- The Trey Sharpe Collection, our Online Custom Ready-to-Wear, can be found at www.sharpesuiting.com. 2-piece suits for ~$850; Blazers for ~$650; Shirts for ~$125.
- Address: Neuehouse
6121 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
- Website: www.sharpesuiting.com
- Phone: 323.985.8895
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: sharpesuiting
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sharpesuiting
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharpesuiting