Dallas native Leah Frazier went to school to become an attorney, but that’s not what gets her out of bed every day now.
She’s the founder of three fashion-related businesses — Diamond Icon Consultants, Think Three Media, and Inspire N Style Magazine.
“You start a business out of your gift and what’s in your heart. That’s scary,” Frazier said.
“You start a business out of your gift and what’s in your heart. That’s scary.”
If you ask her, the fashion entrepreneur says she’s in the business to make “other people’s dreams come true.”
“It’s not about me at the end of the day,” Frazier said.
Wednesday night, however, she did find herself in the spotlight as she earned the title of 2018 Startup Evangelist of the Year. It’s an award given out at the annual State of Entrepreneurship, the marquee Dallas Startup Week event celebrating the wins in the local entrepreneurial community.
It’s a “selfless and honorable role,” said the award’s inaugural recipient Michael Sitarzewski, who announced Frazier as this year’s winner.
“I want to thank you guys for this,” Frazier told the audience Wednesday at the Majestic Theatre. “I’m going to keep pushing hard.”
Frazier took time shortly after receiving the honor to talk about her own entrepreneurial journey, her advice for others striking it out on their own, and her experience in the Dallas startup community.
Tell me about your entrepreneurial journey.
I actually started my business in Houston. It was almost a decade ago. I was an attorney at the time. I started a personal shopping business for the women in law. I started fashion blogging out there. My law firm shut down out of the blue, so my only job that I could get was back in Dallas.
I actually quit what I was doing for six months then got back into it. I started it up within six months of moving back [to Dallas] and it just blew up from there.
Dallas was so rewarding and just opened their arms to me and my business. Fashion is so big here and [my business] blew up. It allowed me to leave and go full time several years ago.
Any recent updates for your businesses?
Diamond Icon Consultants is my styling company and we are just rocking and rolling. We still do personal shopping. We consult for fashion shows and we recently just styled a commercial shoot for WFAA.
With the fashion influencer world, I’m now able to take what I learned here in Dallas and take it to other cities. I leave next week to go to Vegas. I take Dallas boutiques and Dallas products and I take it to the Vegas market. I’ll wear clothes [from Dallas designers] in the New York market. I’m very intentional and very strategic in what I do. On a personal level, I’m going all over the nation now to spread what we have going on here in my city. I’m so proud.
I am the CEO of Think Three Media. I just started two years ago. We do social media management, content marketing, and PR for small businesses. It started off in fashion and beauty, but we do restaurants now, performance arts, business leaders. It’s blowing up. We are doing PR for everybody now.
How do balance all your roles? What’s your secret sauce?
My secret sauce is incredible interns and I have an incredible assistant that helps keep everything rocking and rolling. I have amazing clients that understand that I’m all over the place, but they love me nonetheless because they know that I care about them. I wake up and I live, eat, sleep, breathe their businesses and their success.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t really remember what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I really loved being an attorney. I tell people: I didn’t leave because I was unhappy. There’s a difference between your talents and your gift. I’m very talented as an attorney. I was very gifted in fashion. Gifted in the art of connecting with people in the fashion space that I was very passionate about. That’s what wakes me up every single day; the attorney job did not.
There’s a difference between your talents and your gift.
When you come to a decision, you go with your gift you don’t go with your talent. Talent is safe. Your gift is not as secure.
Your talent are those things you know that you are good at so you can get any job with that. You start a business out of your gift and what’s in your heart. That’s scary.
Nine times out of 10 you haven’t been trained in that. I wasn’t trained in fashion. I [was] going to events and trying to learn it when I went home. I [was] buying textbooks from Half Price Books just trying to make sure I knew what I was talking about. I loved it so much I didn’t mind.
What about the fashion industry inspires you?
I think because they’re so creative. They’re so passionate about what they do. When I see what they can create … it just inspires me to help them more.
And, I love to shop and I love clothes. To be able to go to my local designers and take that money, give it to them, and look fabulous. To have everybody saying, ‘who are you wearing?’ and I get to say, ‘oh he/she is right here in Dallas.’
When he or she calls me and gets a sale and to know that I had something to do with that, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s not about me at the end of the day. I’m trying to make other people’s’ dreams come true.
How would you characterize the Dallas startup community?
The community here is amazing. They’ve been nothing but supportive. The Dallas Entrepreneur Center is 100 percent one of the main reasons why I’m able to do what I do today.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs knowing what you know now?
You definitely need to network. You have to make it apart of your business schedule or apart of your calendar throughout the week. Network. Get to know people. Do it genuinely and authentically. If you do that, Dallas is so supportive. You are going to find the people who want to see you succeed.
Get a mentor, get a coach, and then take the leap.
Another thing is, create a plan. I was just sick of what I was doing and I just took the leap. There’s parts of me that wishes I would’ve waited and got a little more mentorship.
Mentorship is important and I’ll just keep plugging The DEC because these are things they provide. Get a mentor, get a coach, and then take the leap.
Talk to me about the growth you’ve seen in the startup community. What are some things that stand out to you that show us how far we’ve come?
I think Dallas is attracting some of the best talent all over the U.S. This is my fourth year being involved in Dallas Startup Week, third year as a track captain. I get to talk to attendees and we have people coming in from all over the nation trying to see what is Dallas doing. We have something very special here.
Look at how many spaces we started coworking with in 2014. Now, we are over 60 right now. Everywhere you turn whether it’s in downtown Dallas to Uptown out to Denton, Frisco, and Fort Worth, there’s now entrepreneurial spaces. We’ve got people moving here from all over the country because they know that Dallas is a place where you can start a business and you can actually thrive.
Specifically in fashion, I always tell our designers and our industry professionals everywhere:
You don’t have to go to New York or LA to survive. You can make it for yourself here in Dallas and have them calling you to go there. Don’t leave because you have everything you need right here.
What are some things the startup community can do to get better and keep thriving into the future?
Support your local businesses. Yeah, it’s cool that there’s bigger companies that have large name brands, but it’s important that we support each other.
If I shop with you and you’re a local designer, I’m helping you to feed your family, but I’m also keeping the economy within my city and I’m also creating jobs for other people. If I can make your store survive, you can pay your employees. So, why would you go to a company when I can find something that’s so special, so unique that’s local here?
That’s what I try to spread around the city by going in meeting with people to find out what’s going on in Dallas and telling other people about it.
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