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Julia Leach

       

Julia Leach has style in spades. We first knew of her as the brilliant creative director of Kate Spade at the brand’s inception. She was the one who brought all that amazing art to life in their ad campaigns. She’s now the founder of Chance, a core collection of classic pieces from apparel to totes that keeps the feeling of summer, sport and elegance alive. A long time equestrian, Julia moved her New York life out West in 2014, subsequently refueling her passion for riding. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with her at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, California talking with her and her dressage trainer, Tim Keeling. Animals, selfcare and LA sunshine. The trifecta of happiness.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background? I grew up mainly in Minnesota, out in the countryside where my dad converted an old barn into his pottery studio. College students would come stay with us for a few months to learn from him, and when I was 5 years old, one of his students asked if she could bring her horse. We had 80 acres of land, so though he’d never been around them, he said yes as we had plenty of room. The bug bit me that summer, and I’ve been horse crazy ever since.

I pleaded for a horse and got one when I was 10, then worked as a groom on an Arabian farm from 11 – 15 years old. I moved to NYC to work in the design and advertising fields straight out of college, and after a few early attempts to ride in and around Manhattan, gave up as I missed the freedom of riding bareback through woods and fields. I also knew it would be tough to have a horse during those intense career years when I was immersed in my work and doing a lot of traveling.

You now live in Cali but were a New Yorker for many years. Can you share what took you West?  I’d spent a fair amount of time in and around LA for work and to see friends, and it always felt like a second home; I enjoyed being bi-coastal on-and-off over the years. In 2014, I was offered a role on the executive team at Apple’s ad agency, Media Arts Lab. It was a great professional opportunity, and it felt like the right time in my life to try living in Los Angeles full-time. I was also very ready to start riding again, so that tug played a part in my decision as well. And love…

You’ve ridden and been around horses your whole life, how have these majestic beasts influenced you? It’s challenging to put into words exactly how horses have influenced my life as it’s a spirit that goes deep into your soul, if you grow up around them. They are so powerful, and yet I learned as a groom when I was young that if you’re confident around them, there’s a reciprocal calming effect. I feel completely happy at the barn, and now that I’m riding again, it strikes me as odd that I was away from horses for so many years. They are generous, challenging, curious creatures.

I believe that being around animals is an amazing form of self-care and imagine you agree. Can you explain how this translates to your love of riding.  Yes, I do agree, and I find that many of the happiest moments of every week are when I’m riding. The whole world disappears, to-do lists, the inner dialogue about work and family, any worries or concerns, it all goes quiet. I often linger after a lesson, walking around the Equestrian Center or watching classes if a show is happening, just to be around the horses and appreciate their beauty. Emotionally and physically, I always feel nourished and balanced when I leave the barn.

What have you learned from your relationship with your horses? What I’ve learned is that you keep learning…! Horses are great teachers in the sense that you can continue to grow and evolve as a rider. I grew up with Arabians and riding more casually, and when I moved to LA, I knew I didn’t want to just ride around a ring on a lesson horse, so decided to learn dressage. I did quite a bit of research to find the right trainer and environment, and now love my weekly lessons with Tim Keeling at Quiet Canyon. I enjoy the nuance of the sport and the subtlety and sensitivity that exists between horse and rider in dressage.

I also learned early on that if you’re generous with horses, they’re generous in return. That’s certainly part of my m.o. in life as well, being generous with others and with myself.

What other self-care practices do you have?  I get up fairly early and take long bike rides up the beach, and carve out time for the simple things…flowers, going to the farmer’s market, long walks, seeing art. Not sure if these qualify as self-care, but they’re the activities that keep me happy and healthy.  I don’t meditate, but I do love those extra moments in bed in the morning when it’s utterly quiet aside from the birds chirping, and my mind is clear and calm. I hold onto that feeling and try to let it guide me through the day.

What does a day in your life look like on the West Coast? On the East Coast? On the West Coast, I’m up early and out for a bike ride or sometimes a run to the flower market downtown before the city wakes up, then fresh grapefruit juice, berries, eggs for breakfast. The work I do as a creative director is consuming during the week, so dinner out only happens once or twice, then I like to have friends over on Friday or Saturday night as I love to cook. Weekend days are somewhat predictable, but in a good way. They involve riding, stopping by a gallery or two, a wander through the Hollywood farmer’s market, movies at home (I love to watch one early Sunday morning…it feels a bit indulgent). I try to limit email on the weekends, but it inevitably creeps back in… Oh, and I just took up boxing. I’ve never been strong, and I thought, well, it’s now or never, so am doing sessions a few times a week around the corner from my place in Venice.

On the East Coast, I definitely get up later and stay up/out later. The city still feels like home to me, so I can’t get enough of it while I’m there. I walk as much as possible, revisiting old haunts and discovering new ones. It’s a steady stream of art, book stores, meals with friends, and I find that since I don’t live there anymore, I’m doing things that I didn’t have time for when I did; for instance, more walks through Central Park and catching shows at a wider range of museums and galleries. Funny how there’s less time for these activities when you’re actually living and working in Manhattan.



What are your 5 favorite products from CAP?

Butter Elixir Supreme

Karmameju Face and Body Brushes

Ray of Light Sea Salt Sun Spray for Hair

Westwind Orchard Raw Honey

Henné Luxury Lip Balm V2

And one more… Shiva Rose Rose Moon Sea Salts

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