The Creative CEO: Leslie Brians of Leslie Brians Designs
By: Rheanna Bernard
When Leslie Brians graduated from Texas A&M with a master’s in architecture, she married her spouse, who was in the military. She quickly realized that she would have to get creative with her career and that her degree would only get her so far in the crazy world of the Army. In her seven years as an Army spouse, she has worked in fashion, marketing, public affairs, and web design. The uniqueness of her life as a military spouse has created a perfect environment for creativeness and for Leslie to expand herself as an “artist” and as a professional in her fields. Creativeness is a key element to successful business. Even if you aren’t in a creative business, being creative can set you apart and keep you on the quest for growth. Leslie has done just that.
In 2016, Brians set out to create her own business, which she says was “the only natural next step in my professional career.” Leslie Brians Designs provides branding services to companies and nonprofits looking for an on-trend yet classic aesthetic for their online and print brands. Working from home, and for yourself, can be challenging, but Leslie fuels herself by feeding her creativity and challenging herself. “I love taking a simple idea and really turning it into something unique and beautiful,” she says. Brians acknowledges that it isn’t only her creativity she is fueling, but that of her clients as well. Her designs tell a story for each of the brands she works with. She says, “I make it my goal with each and every client to make sure their branding reflects the special story behind their business—the hard work and grit and dreams and finished product.”
Brians doesn’t credit herself with just her success. As a small business owner who also works from home, there are plenty of challenges. Burnout is a real concern. “You have to not only provide your service, but also be your own bookkeeper, marketer, and social media manger,” she says. So how do you avoid burnout and keep yourself grounded? Brians says that, like a good military spouse, you need to find your tribe wherever you are. “Entrepreneurship can be lonely,” she says, and she suggests finding those people going through what you are. Someone to bounce your ideas off of, give you tips, and mentor you. Brians also stresses doing things the right way from the start: “Dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Get a good accountant. Set things up properly. It will help you sleep better at night.”
So, what would Brians recommend for others interested in this line of work or in a highly creative line of work? In our social media-driven world, with programs like Canva so readily available, you have to ask yourself why you want to do this. In the branding business, you are doing so much more than just creating a logo for a company. “You aren’t just offering a logo, but a whole set of guidelines for a company that they will use as a tool to guide every visual decision,” Brians says. Take classes, talk with professionals in the business, and get yourself a mentor. Branding is “a huge task, and it takes a lot of research and time,” she says.
So while Brians didn’t set out on this path, she used her natural creative skills to bloom in the many places she’s been planted and find a business and creative outlet that fits her. “Being a military spouse has forced me to be creative and define an unconventional professional path,” she says. If you are faced with what seem like insurmountable hurdles in your professional life due to personal life circumstances, get creative and don’t give up!