We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Talbott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I owe all of my success to those around me. You know the saying about us being the sum of who we surround ourselves with?
My family, friends, team, and clients have all been instrumental in the trajectory of my business. I don’t believe in separating business and pleasure. My work brings me joy, and my circle supports my craft. I try to integrate family, fellowship, and my love of home into everything I do.
If you talk to me for any time at all, you’d know most everything there is to about *my people*. I am so fortunate to have a supportive family, who fills in the gaps, so that I can sustain this balance of career and home. I am a mother and a wife. My early success as a business owner was made entirely possible by mom’s and grandma’s who kept babies; Dad’s and grandpa’s who swapped and shared tools. My friends, in-laws, and peers connected us with realtors, “their coworkers”, or “a friend of a friend of a friend”. It’s always been my husband stepping in around his own career; vendors and clients that give out our name. It’s those that shamelessly promote us online, and the overall nature of community that has and always will be the most integral part of our success. I lean on honest and knowledgable vendors, I seek out clients who soon become friends, and I’ve given my trust to the talented creatives that produce every single thing that we do. My success is held up almost entirely by others, and to me it’s important to give credit beyond the name of the company, or my face that represents it. It’s so much bigger than that, and me.
My clients know my painter’s contagious smile, my carpenter’s self-imposed perfectionism, and my plumber’s want to leave a space just as he found it. I wouldn’t be able to present gorgeous spaces to our customers, without the talented hands of the team. They inspire me with their distinct abilities, life stories, goals, dreams, and creative endeavors outside of our working environment. There’s so much to learn from each other. Everyone has a story that has lead them up to this point. Their passion. Their why. All of us bring something to the table, and together, we create.
Sometimes, I like to think about how each tile is placed by a setter’s hands, and how every square inch of a project is representative of each’s contribution to the scope. All of the moving parts overlapping and co-existing to make up this huge transformation. I look back at how much our group has developed and accomplished over the years together. The small things do make up the big. I remember every time my team has volunteered themselves past closing, pitched in on weekends, and made morning meetings well before some have even brewed their first cup of joe. I owe everything that is “Elements & Aesthetics” to them, and to those that complete my circle. *They* make *this*.
What should our readers know about your business?
I remember being a kid, and begging my dad to re-paint my bedroom walls. If he’d protest, it was because it had only been a few years since the last coat and color. Once he caved, we’d spend that entire weekend rolling on my had-to-have-hue. Then we’d rearrange the furniture, and I vividly remember climbing into bed with this lingering sense of satisfaction. I eventually swung him on the bathroom, where I still don’t know how I convinced him that we’d best remove the wall to wall vanity mirror, and mount it vertical on the wall behind. A fresh coat of paint and a floor to ceiling wall mirror later.. In my mind, I was living glamourously, like Carrie freakin’ Bradshaw.
Is the love of home.. a love language? I have always been drawn to architecture, design, playing/mixing/matching color, and home focused everything. I scroll HAR in my free time. I was the kiddo that organized her skittles by color. I was “good” at math, but daydreamt about art. Maybe it set in when my grandmother and I constructed paper homes from magazines, with paper furniture to match, on the shag carpet of her living room. Maybe it’s the nostalgia around the smell of saw dust that brings me back to being my dad’s shadow, as he worked around the house and in his shop. There’s just something so satisfying about not just creating, but the result of fixing, renewing, and breathing new life into a piece, a place, or a space.
I completed my degree, and jumped feet first into my role as an estimator. What better than to first learn the base line for all that is and will be constructed? I later moved into design and materials, and eventually went on to accept a role as a project manager. I’ve since worked as design consultant for contractors; contractor for designers. At one point I took on projects as one of many leads, within a larger managing group. With each experience, I’ve refined and cultivated what is now my own unique business model, focusing on resolving the reoccuring struggles I faced. If a contractor was pushing function, a designer would argue aesthetic. In many settings, I felt this general disconnect between my moral compass and other’s hidden agendas. Most of the early part of my remodeling career was an up hill battle. I often felt conflicted with how many people were not honest, lacked pride in their work, or didn’t keep their integrity when it came to the choice between doing the right thing, or hiding the wrong one. I struggled to represent companies who’s culture I didn’t actually believe in. But jumping off, after having the security of a network, felt like free-falling. Struggling to get your name out there. Proving your value. Separating yourself from those that cut corners, can’t commit, or are dishonest. Making good connections. It was always important to me to just keep going, do the next right thing, and stay looking forward. I thought, if today was rough, there was always tomorrow. And eventually, it started to get easier. My work started to speak for itself. The referrals started coming in, and all the following my gut started to finally have made sense.
When I leave a project, I want my clients to know that I truly gave it my all. That I cared. I, and about 25 others, dedicate and sacrifice so much of ourselves to do what we do, and I want to be seen as someone who will go the extra mile. I like to put myself in my homeowner’s shoes. Every job has it’s suprises, but it’s all in how you navigate these things, and what you do to resolve them and move forward. I want to be known for my ability to stick to what I started, to pivot around problems, and for my integrity within a field that is inundated with people of questionable character.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I often joke my husband only keeps me around for entertainment.. like when a meeting of mine goes later than expected, and I arrive home to the sound of the dryer spinning, spaghetti on the stove, and he and two bathed kiddos neck deep in legos on the living room floor. He is truly my partner, and finds no issue with keeping all of his effort behind the scenes. We share, swap, and *he* often steals some of my burdens. Whatever it takes to get it all done. He will suprise fill my gas tank. He’s unloaded many-of-truck-beds that could have waited to go the next morning, with me to the dump. The road to growing my business was paved with loads of pressure, rejection, uncertainty and sleepless nights. Yet he always said he believed in me, when I needed to hear it most.
He is the quiet contributor at the root of my success. He taught me how to haul, back and park my first trailer, shamelessly promotes my portfolio and links online, and is the person I bounce every business goal, idea, and decision off of. He is the backbone of our household, my partner in parenthood, and the company’s biggest cheerleader.