Model Mastermind: This Runway Regular Has A Few Tricks Up Her Sleeve

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Leslie O'Kelley, Model and Entrepreneur
Discovered in a Texas shopping mall at the age of 14 (yes, that actually happens), Leslie has been rocking the catwalk for 11 years for some pretty notable designers, including Diane von Furstenberg. However, rather than chillin' out in her free time, she started bow&arrownyc, a jewelry company for which she curates the designs of Native American artists (cool-girl tip: it will be a featured sale in September on V&M). Oh, and did we mention, she also found time to earn a BBA? Yeah. Juggling this many projects at barely 25, we think Leslie might just be the next Heidi Klum.
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Hands down, best professional advice you ever got.
“One of my business professors told me, ‘Never start your own business.’ Obviously, I didn’t listen. It actually made me want to do the opposite, which looking back, might’ve been the point.”
What skill or habit do you think is vital for success?
“Confidence. Being fearless is where the courage to take a risk meets the belief that you will succeed. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.”
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Who’s your working girl inspiration?
“Diane von Furstenberg — the woman is incredible. After being in this industry for many years, I’ve seen a lot of personalities. Diane is one of the smartest women, but also very genuine, which is hard to come by. I really respect her for that. She also radiates this presence that is undeniable — I want that.” (We are SO on that wavelength, girl.)
Photographed by Sunny Shokrae

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