We chat to Leanne about her business, Chi Chi Dee. Leanne is one of the talented designers featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London.
What is name and background behind your company?
Chi Chi Dee is a nickname my partner used to call me around the time I started making things. I'm not sure why, but it just stuck and has come to represent the fun, upbeat, colourful and playful nature of my label. I wanted to include the word 'handmade' in my brand to emphasise that each of my pieces is designed and created by one individual. For me it's important to encourage and promote handmade as an ethos – a can-do, hands-on approach to life.
Where are you based?
I'm currently based in Hackney but the business has accompanied me over the years to the Bavarian Alps, Greece and Melbourne, Australia.
How long have you been in business for?
I started it back in 2007 but it was more of a hobby business back then. I always had other jobs to support myself and just made things on the side. I would say I went into business properly at the beginning of 2012, when I quit my day job to focus fully on my passion.
What do you love most about living in London?
It is the one place in the world in which I feel completely free and independent. It is eclectic and open-minded. Anything goes. A simple walk down the street soon turns into a whirlwind of impressions and being fed by this constant input becomes addictive. I feel as though there are more people here living outside the box than anywhere else in the world, (other than, perhaps, New York), which means I can be inspired by alternative ways of being, rather than settling for the status quo. I suppose it is the possibility that lures and ensnares me, the prospect of great things.
Who or what inspires you?
London! My partner; his insatiable thirst for knowledge, his integrity, his humour and his boundless energy. Other really nice and interesting creative people. My lovely customers.
What advice would you give designers starting out?
Have the right perspective. Don't be in a rush to 'be' a designer, allow yourself the chance to 'become' one first. Let things to grow organically and enjoy what you do.
What is new for your company?
Clothing. Whereas up until now I have focused on accessories, I am currently branching out into clothing. Right row I'm working on a range of tank tops and leggings, comfy things that I love to wear.