Meet Leslie, the Maker behind The Loominatrix and Bitchin' Stitchin'
Leslie grew up a Navy Brat and has lived all over the place. She has called Long Beach home since the 80s. She believes that all women deserve functional pockets!
Read her story below
How’d you get your start?
I’m not sure what clicked in my head to begin producing art pieces but my friend Cory encouraged me from the beginning. He’s been an inspiration and someone I can go to with ideas. Later I got into making practical items for more everyday use and I have found some success in that. It started with a looming class and decorative wall hangings. Then I got a sewing machine at a really great price and I started making fabric sleeves for reusable straws, and then macramé key chains and plant hangers under the name The Loominatrix. Then Elinor opened and I was invited to set up shop. I sew patches and make small repairs for bar patrons and that’s how Bitchin’ Stitchin’ was born.
What kinds of jobs did you have leading up to the start of your creative venture?
I was in Human Resources for nearly 20 years. I loved doing that but once my mom got sick I stopped pursuing those jobs so I could take care of her. I lost her in 2016 and eventually got a job here at MADE. It gives me enough time to be artsy and creative and I credit this job with meeting more cool-ass people than I could’ve imagined. That in turn has opened up so many opportunities to be a part of the art community here even if I’m not producing anything at the moment.
What steps did you initially take to set yourself apart?
"Well, I sew in an old freight elevator in a bar. I’d say that sets me apart.”
What holds more value for you: creativity or knowledge?
For me, execution is key and creativity alone usually will not give you that ability. I work really hard to make my 3-D mixed media pieces look as though they were machine made. Whether I’ve been successful in that endeavor is up for debate.
I’ve never had formal training except for a drawing class at LBCC. Sadly, I still cannot draw but it definitely gave me a better understanding of art in general. I would really like to be able to go back to school and not have to work at the same time. I’m not there yet, but someday.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
Oh yes! I have dealt with severe ADHD my whole life. I’ve learned that that comes with a host of mental health issues as well. Rejection has always been really hard for me. I used to give up on a project under those circumstances.
As I’ve gotten older I can take it in stride now. I can now analyze that rejection and turn it into an even better piece. I would tell anyone wanting to launch a side-hustle, art show, anything creative, to be kind to yourself. That’s the most important thing. Putting your work out there for all to judge is really brave. Congratulate yourself for getting there!
“I’ve always had 'an eye' as my mother would tell me. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things and I don’t think I’ll ever settle on any one thing to make. I love music, fashion, color, art, and more art.”
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Sometimes it’s necessity, you know, seeing a need or an opportunity to add something to your surroundings. And then sometimes an idea will just hit me. The notes app on my phone is full of art project ideas I’d like to tackle. Getting past that stage is not always smooth sailing though. As an adult, I can view my ADHD as a gift. Growing up it was awful, but I see now how creative I can be and I attribute that to the non-neurotypical way my brain is wired.
I am a professional procrastinator. I did receive some advice about that from a bumper sticker: Procrastinate Later!
If you could move to any other place in this or any universe where would you go?
I’ve always wanted to move to upstate New York. For some reason it calls to me. I have some family and lots of memories of being a kid there. I think about moving there when things get rough. I’m still here so I guess things haven’t been too rough.