Get To Know Leslie Akin
Primarily, my journey has been an aesthetic one but informed with an entertainer's sensibilities. I love and appreciate all forms of art music, drama, and fine art and I've lived a life devoted to that vision. In the early seventies, I was a mother with two kids living in the suburbs, but I never let that define me. I was a mother with two kids, yes, but I was also a professional clown; that's right, I was a circus arts performer, dodging swinging mops and buckets of confetti, and yes, even pies.
I performed comedy magic shows, juggling, instructed at clown conferences, and toured with a circus. I never let one take away from another. I loved my kids and was a good mother, but I was also a great clown. Actually, if you think about it, clowning and parenthood are two parts of a whole. Today my children are wonderful and successful adults and I got to spend my life making people laugh.
For six years I wrote for a national publication, Laugh Makers Magazine. My columns were about clown character development, the funny business of being funny, skits, magic, costumes, props, and lessons I had learned while performing. And believe me, I learned a lot.
People may think that being a clown is a trivial occupation but quite the opposite is true. In fact, the lessons I learned performing have helped me become successful in life. For one thing, being a clown taught me the importance of believing in my own story.
With the mask on, I had license to playfully remind them of their humanity. Taking pies in the face, and running around the hippodrome track as if my pants were on fire was business as usual. Once I removed the makeup, I was the charming housewife I was expected to be. This kind of role switching requires a huge amount of awareness and self-discipline. In addition, I learned to read an audience. I developed a keen sense of my audience's energy and how to play off their vibes.
Finally, my juggling, plate spinning, and comedy magic show, complete with Domino the Dynamic Wonder Bunny, taught me that timing is everything. To pull off these shows, I had to be prepared to respond to whatever happened within a split second. Awareness, self-discipline, understanding one's audience, going with the moment: all these lessons have been invaluable in my life.
During the Carter and Reagan administrations, I was invited to perform at The White House and bring my team of pranksters, a genuine honor. I'll always remember the puzzled look on the secret service man's face as he sorted through my wacky, over-sized props, fire-orange wigs, and colossal shoes.
I also enjoyed performing at hospitals. In my role as Docktor FunnyBone, I made my rounds and performed for kids and adults alike. Sometimes I was animated, sometimes low-key, but I was always sure to be sensitive to the needs of my audience, and I never left before I'd brought a smile to the palest face. Those smiles are still with me today and remain one of the highlights of my life. I'm proud to have walked in the shoes of a clown for fourteen years.
My love of clowning began to give way to a passion for music, and when a juggler friend who hosted a show on a community radio station said I'd be a perfect candidate for a DJ because of my love and knowledge of jazz, I jumped at the chance. Sharing the music I loved was a real joy: Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, and Joe Williams wow!
I had my own four-hour radio program once a week. At noon I aired classic jazz jams that I dubbed The Peanut Butter and Jam Session. It was so successful that I soon I landed an on-air position with a commercial jazz radio station where I produced programs in every time slot imaginable. My listeners encouraged me to go for the larger jazz radio station, so I did and landed a job as on-air talent and producer for a significant radio station. I fondly recall those twelve years of producing jazz and blues radio programs where I was lucky enough to interview many jazz legends.
As I learned in clowning, timing is everything, so when my husband Ron wanted to move back to his home in Oregon, I sensed he was right; it was time to leave the Bay area and move on from music to another passion of mine: graphic design. Graphics are the perfect marriage of fine arts and entertainment. To be a successful graphic artist you have to know your audience. And wow, had I learned how to do that!
In San Francisco, I had often created CD inserts for my deejay and music friends. During the years that I clowned around and and promoted my radio show, I had created my own marketing and print campaigns. Of course, this was back in the dark ages of light tables and paste-up but nevertheless, the basic design principals remain the same. My grasp of design and my ability to understand what my client wants, even if he or she can't verbalize it is something that comes naturally to me.
I owned a graphic design studio in Sutherlin, Oregon where the business was so successful it was voted Business of the Year for 2007-2008. When I relocated to Lake Oswego in 2009, the business became the little studio with the big vision and we've never looked back. My mission is to brand your business so you can show up in that really big way, and I've done that with a vengeance, helping our clients enlarge their business at the same time they enlarge their sense of self and their own capabilities. It's truly a joy to watch the transformations.
This process usually begins with brand development and a full color, two-sided business card on high quality stock. From there, I help my clients develop other marketing collateral as needed (how to market online, ideas for blogs and Facebook, logos, etc.) I request my clients ideas, but I also request their trust. As I mentioned before, I have absolute faith in my artistic vision and it has never proved me wrong on my life's journey.
In 2014 I met and collaborated with Temple Cartmill, a brilliant project manager and account executive. We launched a business together, to offer our clients the full meal deal for graphic design and marketing their businesses, so 123LaunchMe.com was born. We brand-build-blast your business in a strategic and we're ranking our clients on page one of Google very quickly.
The Portland, Oregon area has proven to be the best location, although I work with clients from other states as well. One of the best things to happen since being here, is that through networking, I met Jewels Muller, who at that time was a professional organizer and a brilliant force of nature when it came to networking. We chatted about how we felt after typical networking like it had no soul. We wanted something with more depth, more meaning, not just a sale.
So Jewels created the mastermind support network, Chicks Connect, bringing women together in small groups to network and nurture each other. I love watching women pay attention to their whole beings, which includes personal growth and paying it forward. As we help each other we help ourselves. It's a revolutionary concept that goes far beyond business networking to something much deeper and meaningful.
Jewels then asked me to create the Chicks Connect logo. My inspiration came from observing all the various personalities and cultures coming together as a whole in the different groups. The vibrant colors of the logo represent all the energy and differences that make us who we are. The flower, a universal symbol of the female, is represented as women connected in a circle which also exudes the sense of friendliness and cooperation that is an integral part of Chicks Connect. The friendly and round font choice represents natural ease and flow, an essential quality to welcoming women into the Chicks Connect circle.
We focus more on personal growth, and we seem to do more business organically, simply because we like and care about one another. Chicks Connect is about being authentic and being willing to work on oneself under the guidance of the curriculum and interaction with other chick members. Of course we have fun, but along the way we make lasting friendships and we learn how to be self-actualized.
I love the feeling of extended family and friendship and a more developed sense of community. Professionally, through Chicks Connect I've met a lot wonderful clients whom I might not have met otherwise. Each meeting there is something brought to light by a chick that allows me to see this thing called life in a different perspective. I leave meetings feeling more energized, more alive. And yes, I created the brand for Chicks Connect and marketing materials. Www.chicksconnect.com
My other passion is practicing gratitude daily, personally and in business. It's made a huge difference in my life in every way possible, by sending a real greeting card to people I'm thinking about, people I want to celebrate and honor for their successes and thanking clients for their business and referrals. Giving to give, not to get, has opened me up to greater possibilities.
I feel so lucky to be living my passion here in beautiful village of Lake Oswego, Oregon. I love making a difference; I love creating designs for businesses, and I love that I can make a living doing both. And if I haven't made you laugh by the end of our conversation, I haven't done it correctly.
Leslie Ann Akin
Lake Oswego Graphics
530 4th Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Leonardo da Vinci
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