Name: Nora Lynn Leech
Business: Exupery Design, a small cross-disciplinary, boutique design firm
Location: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Reason for starting: I have a love for all things design-related! I grew up in a beautiful rural area, in northern Wisconsin. My parents owned a small farm and print shop. Even at a young age I loved helping my parents design simple things like the monthly mailer for the local vet on a Commadore 64. Technology and times changed, I got a design degree from UW Madison and moved to NYC and started as a freelance designer. Eventually I found myself turning down more projects than I could handle. I like to say “I accidentally started a business” so I could keep the clients I love to work with. I have a great team of designers who can help with a huge variety of projects.
This is such an exciting time for design. I love technology and how design has spread to the new breed of social applications like facebook, instagram and tumblr. I do a lot of social media design for technology, health and beauty clients. I sometimes feel like we are pioneers in this amazing new space and figuring out how people engage with images and text on all the new platforms is endlessly interesting to me. I am especially interested in semiotics, how people relate to the visual language and how that visual language is evolving rapidly with technology.
How do you define success? The namesake for Exupery Design, Antoine de Saint Exupery once said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” At the heart of all matters, I think success is having a business with happy clients as well as happy employees.
Biggest Success: My biggest success is a group of powerpoint studies I designed, the 2012 and 2013 Health Barometer for Edelman. They were presented at the UN World Health Organization conference and at the EU World Health Organization conferences. I love turning data into something palpable. I just finished another really fascinating study about cloud computing.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge was definitely figuring out how to manage a business without a business degree. I recently addressed the issue by taking night classes at NYU school of business and got a business certificate, or as I like to call it, my “mini MBA” through New York City’s Strategic Steps for Growth plan. It was amazing and really helped with perspective. Sometimes you get so involved with the nitty gritty, and forget the big picture. I think owning a business is always going to be a learning experience; reaching out, taking classes, having meetings with other business owners, etc. Growth is a necessary part of life as an individual, as well as a business.
Who is your most important role model? Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author and namesake of my design company. I relish his innovative way of looking at the world with fresh eyes and try to emulate that mindset within my company. Exupery is most famous as the author and illustrator of The Little Prince. Whenever I get stuck creatively, I go back to his illustration in The Little Prince of the “Hat/Snake eating an Elephant” and try to re-examine whatever issue is challenging and approach it from a new angle. Creative thinking isn’t something you can do on command, but there are tricks to make yourself think creatively.
Edited by The Story Exchange