Today we’d like to introduce you to Syd Leilani.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I always knew in my adolescent years, I had a purpose — I was just unsure what it could’ve been. I remember as a young child, around three years old, my mother and I use to watch American Idol every night. It was one of our favorites nightly routines after her long day of work. Within that time, I realized my first aspiration: singing. I sang my heart out day and night and pledged to become a singer as I grew older. That dream was soon squished when I lost an audition to potentially be on Disney Channel. I was bummed as any child could’ve been, yet on the other hand, inspired because I just knew I had a purpose. As time proceeded, I continued to have occurrences with money, which made me longed the idea of future owning my own business. By the age of seven, I had a store located in my home; it was similar to your local convenience store. I sold numerous items having the people in my community support me. At my elementary school and even though high school, I had the concept of always hustling by selling products that made others happy.
Amidst the concept of slowly becoming a business owner, I had other passions I kept silent. Throughout the time of dreaming to become a singer, I began to write. I would write songs regarding various topics that a little child could imagine. Quickly, writing became a relief for me. I would write short stories and pass them out — I remember everyone loving my brother and sister tale detailing my life. In my high school years, I remember going to my freshman year teacher, Mrs. Knight, asking her to help me write this story I longed to tell. From that second on, my professional writing career began. About one year later, I became a published writer and poet with my newest release book called Marathon.
While writing has always been a passion I thrived in, it wasn’t the only purpose I craved. At the age of 8, I remember begging my mother for a camera because I loved the concept of documenting one’s life. When I would vacation, my camera became my best friend, which soon became a daily thing. Every year since then, a new camera would somehow fondle in my hand to play with. I became a camera hoarder. A few years ago, I decided to rediscover my passion for photography and understand why my child-self loved it so much. I realized then that one of my purposes is to help capture others to help build confidence and lasting memories. S. L. S. Shoots, my photography business has become my newest best friend.
A few years ago, I craved to use my talents and passion to somehow benefit my community. I shuffled numerous ways in doing so: by mentoring young girls throughout their high school days by holding charity events giving to the homeless, tutoring, running marathons, and so much more. I just knew my ultimate purpose was to give back. Prolific Styles, Inc. is a non-profit organization I founded a year ago, providing artistic and creative classes for the youth. Prolific Styles’ goal is to bring more originality to our youth by exposing the community to unique and creative classes. This will allow our youth to broaden their horizons by having the same opportunities youths in other cities have and with the options to grow and learn in different aspects of life.
From a young child, I knew I had a purpose — I was just unsure what it could’ve been. Today, I stand with many passions and aspirations and a business owner that still slowly becoming.
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?
I had a few struggles along the way, though the proudest struggle I’ve overcome was my speech impairment.
“My name is ‘Ce-Ce,’ not ‘Ce-Ce’!” A younger me said angrily to my grandfather.
“Okay, Sydney. Your name is ‘Ce-Ce’,” my grandfather jokingly said after.
Imagine a young child not being able to say their own name. Then imagine a child believing the entire world did not know how to say it either because they thought ‘Ce-Ce’ was a joke. I struggled the longest with my speech impairment that not only took a toll on my self-esteem but my learning environment also. Children, of course, were the worse dealing with it all. Throughout elementary school days, they would make fun of the way I spoke because I might have pronounced “SpongeBob” as “Spawn Bob,” which I still say today. The sad part of it all, the teachers enjoyed it too. I eventually lost a sense of my voice because it was too much to handle as a kid. I grew up to hate reading altogether.
Throughout middle school years, I decided enough was enough. I would ask myself, “how can I say the word in my head, but not aloud?” I wanted to be able to communicate like everyone else, but how? My grandmother advised that reading would be able to solve all of my answers, however, I would have to say everything audibly to practice. I went through a hard-core search finding a book that was interesting, but easy to read. Book after book, I couldn’t find any. I crumbled. I thought my speech impairment defined who I was. That maybe I was illiterate or maybe I was “special,” I was everything people assumed about me.
Besides all of the self-doubt and all of the insecurities I built at the time, I didn’t give up. I just knew one day, I would speak like everyone else. I eventually found a book called “Polar Bears Past Bedtime,” and fell in love. It was the only book I could read correctly, so how could I not? I practiced day and night with that book and then proceeded to finish the series. That self-doubt I once had was slowly disappearing.
Fast forward today, I still struggle time-to-time and still receive hurtful comments from new voices. Of course, it hurts to know sometimes the thing I want to say does not come out correctly, but it is all a part of my growth. I’m not perfect and go through struggles just like the next, but it’s my journey. My speech impairment was once a struggle, yet helped me journey off into something so greater. I am a proud published author, mentor, advocate for the homeless, podcaster, etc. I accepted saying “Spawn Bob” or previously calling myself “Ce-Ce” because it shaped the person I am today and for that I am thankful.
Please tell us about S.L.S. Shoots and Prolific Styles, Inc.
Prolific Styles: Prolific Styles, Inc. is a non-profit organization providing artistic and creative classes for the youth. Prolific Styles’ goal is to bring more originality to our youth by exposing the community to unique and creative classes. This will allow our youth to broaden their horizons by having the same opportunities youths in other cities have and with the options to grow and learn in different aspects of life.
S.L.S.SHOOTS: S.L.S. SHOOTS is based in Los Angeles, California hoping to create lasting memories with passion and enthusiasm. S.L.S. SHOOTS offers photography services such as Senior Portraits, Family Portraits, Headshots, and events. As a photographer, my sole mission is to capture art in the form of a picture. Something that could last forever and could help bring memories in our digital ages. I will help create meaningful and lasting moments while providing excellent services and enriching the world of professional photography.
What sets both businesses apart from others is my authentic way of undertaking the arts and creating something prolific in the end result. I hope to not only inspire the youth but to give them an understanding of how powerful their voice could be.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have a lot of favorite moments from my childhood, though if I had to recall one it would be riding throughout my city, Inglewood with my grandfather. I was around three years old and we were cruising through the streets jamming to oldies music. My grandfather was singing from the top of his lungs and so was I. I caught him off guard with me knowing all of the lyrics, but he wasn’t surprise. We eventually stopped at this donut shop that sold the best cheesecakes on the planet. After buying our bakery treats, we indulged in the car and rode throughout the city. Life was peaceful and good.
- Marathon by Syd Leilani (book) $11.89
- Website: www.sydleilani.com, www.prolificstyles.org, www.sydleilani.com/sls-shoots
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/sydleilani
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydleilani
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sydleilani
- Other: https://www.amazon.com/Marathon-Syd-Leilani/dp/1714830268/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1591520817&refinements=p_27%3ASyd+Leilani&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Syd+Leilani
S. L. S. Shoots, @chloecapturedthat