For the third year in a row, PEDESTRIAN.TV is holding our super lush Selfish Sessions and as per, we’ve locked in the best in the biz to swing by and have a yarn with our guests. One of this year’s headliners is Real Housewives of New York star Leah McSweeney who made a fabulous addition on the most recent season of the show, but as viewers will know, she’s so much more than just a reality star.
Ahead of her appearance at our Selfish Sessions next month, I got on the horn to Leah to chat about female entrepreneurship, the importance of self-care and, of course, the unstoppable juggernaut that is Real Housewives.
Hey Leah! First up, tell us how you kicked off your career?
I was doing a lot of styling work and I wasn’t having amazing experiences with the stylists I was working for and I was working in the fashion department at magazines and grinding, like, for no money. I was also working retail because that was a steady paycheck, and I was like, ‘You know what? This is not inspiring enough for me. I need to do something more.’
At the time it was 2003 / 2004 and it was such a special time in Downtown New York where this community and culture of streetwear was growing and all my guy friends had clothing brands and I was like, ‘I’m gonna start my own clothing line and I’m gonna do it from my own female perspective’. And that’s how it started.
And the rest is history! So now you’ve moved into the self-care space with Happy Place, what inspired that?
Honestly I’m such a big self-care person, especially because I didn’t drink for so many years and I think for me, because I was an alcoholic, I wasn’t able to do self-care and drink, so when I stopped drinking at 27, I was able to focus on eating healthy and working out and I’ve obviously started drinking again, which everyone saw on [Real Housewives of New York], but it was really hard to do self-care while drinking and balance the two. But I decided it was time for me to start a self-care brand and the guys who helped me with my Mob brand were totally down to help me so I was like, ‘Let’s do this! Why not?’
Plus everybody’s mostly at home now and we need to be as cosy as possible because so many things are falling apart all around us.
Absolutely! And I feel like the idea of self-care has only became a thing in the last few years, which is crazy, because it’s so damn important!
Totally! We should always be focusing on it. I feel like it’s sort of losing its meaning in a way, because everyone’s throwing it around so much, but listen, getting eight hours of sleep a night is so important. Drinking tons of water is so important.
I’m the kind of girl who’d rather spend $3000 on friggen’ supplements and skin cream than a bag, you know what I mean? I’d rather go away to a spa for a day or two. I’m much more inclined to spend money on things that’ll feel good.
For sure, rather than material possessions that you’ll fall out of love with after using them three times.
What do you think it is that prompted this focus on self-care in the last few years?
That’s a good question. This is the thing, when I was growing up, it was cool to be a fuck-up, because I’m a Xennial, the border of Gen Z / Millennial, so I have a Millennial drive with a slacker attitude to everything. So when it comes to self-care, Gen Z would be like, ‘Fuck off, I’m smoking weed all day.’
But the Millennial and Gen Z attitude is much different than that. They’re such overachievers and hard-workers, that you have to balance that out with self-care.
I totally agree. So what are your personal favourite methods of self-care?
Taking baths is my favourite thing. I have all sorts of bath stuff, I have all these different oils and sometimes, after an all-cast [Real Housewives] trip, I’ll bathe in Arm & Hammer baking soda to clear my energy out. I get really into it.
Also, this is so random and obviously I love really expensive facials, but sometimes I just enjoy doing Bioré strips at home. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing all your blackheads on those strips. And just lighting a candle and watching some really good fucking brain-numbing reality TV.
I feel like I need to do all that after watching a RHONY cast trip sometimes.
I’m kidding, I actually find Real Housewives so soothing to watch. That’s my form of self-care. Even though the show is so chaotic, it’s so great to escape your own drama and delve into someone else’s.
Yeah you don’t have to think about your own family problems, you can watch Real Housewives of New Jersey and see their family problems! You don’t need to think about your own rehab that you can maybe go to, you can just watch LuAnn [de Lesseps] get sent off.
Absolutely! But that’s what I love about it as well, watching what both you and LuAnn went through, and how you’ve come back from that is so inspiring. It’s real people going through real shit.
[Editor’s note: Real Housewives of New York stars LuAnn de Lesseps and Leah have both been very open about their recovery from drinking addiction, which has been covered thoroughly on the show.]
LuAnn is really one of the people who had one of the craziest journeys on TV which is why I respect her, she has put the good, the bad and the ugly on television. We’ve seen it all with her and she deserves props and respect.
LuAnn de Lesseps (left) and Leah (right) behind-the-scenes of RHONY. (Credit: Instagram)
For sure, The Countess is an icon! What’s something you wish you knew before starting your businesses? What would you tell 22-year-old Leah?
That’s such a good question. I would’ve told her to just not stress over the dumb shit and enjoy the wins, because there are going to be so many fails, so you’ll have plenty of time to have a pity party and be stressed out. But when you have those wins, just soak it in and enjoy it.
I was on such a hamster wheel that I didn’t get the chance to enjoy it. There were some specific moments where I do remember being like, ‘I have to take this in right now. This is incredible! I’m in Paris, I’m pregnant, I have the life I couldn’t have even dreamt of.’
But there were so many times where I focused on small dumb shit and stressed about it.
And finally, what advice would you give other female entrepreneurs?
The world is our oyster! Women are running shit now more than ever. We are being taken a lot more seriously than we ever have been. You used to have to dress a certain way, and act a certain way to be taken seriously. But you don’t have to worry about that anymore, you can just be a bad bitch and be like, ‘I’m still demanding and commanding respect!’
So just be that bad bitch and don’t think twice about it.
Want to see more? Leah will be talking at Selfish Sessions alongside Dylan Alcott, Brooke Boney, Abbie Chatfield and many more. Tickets are just $20+BF. Head HERE to grab yours.