Welcome to the first interview of my new boss babe series where I will be getting to know different local boss babes and share their inspiring journey’s and advice with you.
I first met Leilani through my work with Victoria Fashion Week (see my VicFW recap) and instantly fell in love with her beautiful, bohemian designs. She’s a super chill, grounded person and I can’t wait to share her inspiring journey with all of you <3
Name: Leilani Evans
Favourite place to be: Norfolk Island
Favourite thing to eat: Cultured cashew cheese from Nourish with seasonal ferment and house made buckwheat crackers (yum!)
Favourite kind of animal: Loves being around and hanging out with horses
Favourite beauty product: Dr. Hauschka beauty products – day cream is absolute favourite, but they’re all great
(Leilani is pictured right)
You’re from Norfolk Island. What was it like growing up there?
Living on Norfolk Island until the age of 13 she experienced some major culture shock going from a community of 1500, to visiting Japan, to moving to Victoria, Canada with her sister attending a high school with a population of nearly 1500. Norfolk Island is a very tight knit community and Leilani can’t wait to eventually move back.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Being a creative kid from the start, Leilani has always been interested in patterns, and textures. Her creativity flourised through private art classes with her sister from the age of 8 onward. She later went to jewelery design school and learned that soldering and hands on metal jewelery making wasn’t a great fit for her, and moved towards incoporating jewelry with textiles. Her first collection included hand sewn beads on clothing, and her passion has evolved into what Wawaha is today.
What was that turning point for you to decide to start Wawaha?
Designing and making clothing has always been something that Leilani loves doing, and while interning for her sister she realized she could turn her hobby into a business. She was going to design clothing and accessories either way, so why not make a real go at Wawaha.
The Reger Group, and their self employment program, helped support her through the business development process by coaching her through a business development plan while providing a small income. After looking into this program further it is only available to people that are using employment assistance , but it is definitely worth looking into for those that are on assistance and want to get the tools to start their entrepreneurship journey.
What does the name Wawaha come from?
Wawaha is a Norflok Island word meaning confidence, authentic, and proud of who you are.
How did you find a manufacturer for your products?
While working for Koosho, her sister’s company, Leilani fell in love with Indonesia and through a lot of Googling found a great manufacturer for a new muslin bag that she had designed. They’ve built a great relationship over time and she travels to Indonesia every year to go back to the same tailor for beautiful, professionally made products.
Touching and knowing that each piece is perfect is very important to Leilani as she focuses on very small scale, one off production lines. Believe it or not, Leilani actually brings all of her products back to Canada with her on the plane in large duffel bags!
Your designs are beautiful, and very feminine. What essence do you try to portray with each new design?
With small productions, it’s important to Leilani to design for what would look great on all different goddess body types. Movement and flow is very important with nothing too tailored and structured. She thinks of her clothing as an extension of the body, very flowy making the women who wear it feel beautiful and special while wearing Wawaha clothing.
Running a small business is hard and it’s easy to get caught up in the work all day everyday entrepreneur lifestyle. What do you do to keep your life balanced?
Leilani is an everything or nothing kind of person and regularly works hard and continuously to get a lot done in a short period of time, and will then spend some time recharging by doing relaxing fun things like hanging out with friends, or painting a new wall in her house.
She also found that working alone can get isolating and has since started part time work at Nourish Cafe to be able to socialize and have that sense of community in another work space.
We’ve all dealt with different self confidence issues. Can you think of a time you had low self esteem and how did you pull yourself up and out of it?
Throughout her life, especially in teenage years, Leilani would experience lots of ups and downs with anxiety and depression that definitely had an impact on self confidence. Her biggest tool for pulling herself out of it and resetting is yoga which has become a big part of who she is.
If you could give one piece of advice to young women and future Boss Babes out there what would it be?
The biggest piece of advice Leilani has to give is to do what makes you happy. Nurture your hobbies and anything you’re interested in because that is what will feed your life and your soul. It’s also so important to do what feels good to you, and don’t get caught up in what other people are doing and comparisons.
As for the boss babes out there, she recommends finding mentors and other inspiring people to talk to and connect with. They’re generally more than happy to help, and although there’s lots of information out there online, there’s something different and special about what you can learn from someone who has been in similar situations and journeys as you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the awesome boss babe Leilani Evans from Wawaha. After talking with her I really feel extra inspired to stay true to the path I’m on, because I know it’s right for me, no matter how long and hard the path may be, and I hope you’ve experienced some siimilar sentiments. Stay tuned for another boss babe interview next month!