An interview with creative business owner Leslie Carvitto
Leslie Carvitto is a multi-passionate creative supporting female business owners and conscious creatives with their digital marketing needs. She is also the photographer of the beautiful imagery for our Homebody Totes. We sat down with Leslie to chat about her journey as a creative, her biggest challenges so far, Leslie’s favourite self-care routines and more.
Let’s start at the beginning, what was your journey to becoming a creative business owner?
If I had to sum up my journey in two words it would be long and non-linear. I’ve always been easily inspired and interested in a lot of different things. I moved to Hawaii to attend university and when the time came to choose a major, I picked communications and graduated with a degree in public relations. I had a short stint at working in a corporate PR setting but quickly realized I didn’t want to sit at a desk 5 days a week for 40+ hours. (I thought I would grow out of this eventually but turns out, I didn’t!)
Instead, I decided to work a variety of jobs that would pay my bills, allow me to travel, and make the most of my time living in Hawaii. I waitressed, taught yoga, modelled, worked at lululemon, and was a creative writer, and a personal assistant. At times I was doing 2-4 jobs at once. I loved the variety and the fact that each day was different. But after a few years years of this lifestyle, I started to feel a lack of purpose and focus. I was still having fun, but didn’t feel like I was making a difference and I was constantly just scraping by. (My savings were depleted from purchasing too many airline tickets.)
Around this time I met my now-husband while he was visiting Hawaii from Seattle, WA. We did long distance for almost a year before I moved back to the mainland. Tired of holding multiple jobs and yet still being broke, I applied for full-time corporate roles once I settled in. I took up a soul-sucking 50+ hour a week job as a technical recruiter (I lasted 8 months) before moving on to an account management position at a creative agency.
I was there for three years and learned heaps of important soft and technical skills that I use in my business now; website management, digital marketing, SEO, organization, how to set and manage client expectations and budgets, the list goes on and on.
Working in a creative setting started inspiring new projects for me. I began to teach myself photography (something I had an interest in for years) and got back into creative writing. My job was going fine but I had that “there has to be more” kinda feeling. My urge to combine what I loved into one career and get back some of that freedom I had in Hawaii began growing. I knew there was never going to be a perfect time to quit my job and give freelancing a go. I also knew that if I didn’t at least try that it would be one of my biggest regrets. So I had a lot of conversations with my partner and other freelancers/business owners, made an incredibly loose plan and quit my 9-5 with the hope that somehow my passions would combine to create a purposeful and sustainable creative career.
You specifically work with female business owners and conscious creatives, was this an intentional decision from the start?
It wasn’t an intentional decision but I think subconsciously, my feminist views and desire to empower other women attracted my clientele.
Early on in my freelance career I worked with a life coach to help define my purpose and work on personal growth and development. Our conversations kept coming back to my enthusiasm for supporting female small business owners. To me, it’s not about alienating men, but about celebrating women and their unique gifts, feminine qualities and ability to change the world for the better.
What have been the biggest challenges of running your own creative business?
Self-doubt for starters. I don’t have any formal training in photography so if I’m not in a good headspace, I’ll start thinking about how far behind I am, or that I’m not good enough, etc.
Which actually leads me to another challenge - comparison! Theordore Roosevelt’s quote “comparison is the thief of joy” is so spot on. The more I focus on what other people are doing, the less I feel fulfilled by what I’m doing, (which is crazy because I really like what I’m doing!). It’s hard to keep my focus in my lane sometimes, but as long as I feel like I’m doing my best work and bringing value to my client that’s all that matters.
How do you find inspiration to fuel your creativity?
I feel most inspired when I’m outdoors near the ocean or in the mountains. When I’m feeling stuck creatively, I know it’s time to shut off technology and get into nature. Activities that get me out of my head and into my body like surfing trail running really help release tension and mental rigidity - that’s when the ideas start to flow!
As a solo business owner, our work can sometimes be isolating. On top of that you’re an expat - moving from America to Melbourne, Australia - how did you create a community for yourself in a new country and how do you stay connected with friends and family?
Before I moved to Australia, I did a huge outreach via social media. I asked everyone I knew if they had connections in Australia and if they’d be open to introducing me. Once I got here, I used social again to find and connect with other female business owners or freelancers. I’d often just direct message them and ask if they wanted to meet up for coffee. Some of the first gals I met have turned into my closest friends in Australia!
I stay in touch with my family and friends back home through FaceTime, WhatsApp and snail-mail. The time difference makes it tough and it’s hard to create and nurture new friendships while sustaining friendships back home. But I really value my relationships so it just takes a little more effort to make sure connections are happening regularly and often.
What are some ways that you make time for self-care in your routine?
During the weekdays I wake up at 5am and set aside the first few hours of the day to nourish myself mentally, spiritually and physically. (Note: I’m naturally a morning person and in bed most nights by 9:30pm). I love being awake when it’s quiet and most of the world is sleeping. That extra time allows me to start the day slow and thoughtfully. I have coffee with my husband and read, journal and meditate. Then I get to a yoga class or go for a swim or run. And finally, I cook breakfast (and usually make another coffee) before starting my workday. These rituals of self-attention set my day up for success and generally just make me a nicer human!
When you wake up in the morning, what is your ‘why’ that drives you?
I love to make women feel seen, heard, understood. I want to remind them that their work matters, and that they can follow the path that makes their heart beat faster. I want to see more women in business because all industries need to have female voices at the table. More women in business means more financial freedom, independence and options for women to live a life they want, not one that is expected or given to them. Lastly, I want to flip the entire narrative about what women need to do and be in order to be "successful".
What are your favourite resources for creatives or for business owners?
Anything written from Brene Brown
Where can we find you?
Leslie Carvitto is a multi-passionate creative supporting female business owners and conscious creatives with their digital marketing needs. Her special talents include; capturing your smile in a photo while you’re not looking, supporting and encouraging your dreams, recommending a long list of books you must read, and finding treasures at opp shops. You can find her services and work at www.lesliecarvitto.com and @_lunarising.