MEET THE FOUNDER Founder: Leary Forteau Showroom: LFA Agency

What has been your personal journey with fashion and how has it influenced what you do with your brand and its business?

I have always considered myself to be a self-made, faithful, dedicated, and passionate individual. I was the first to get a degree in my family by following my passion of music into the University of North Texas.  Soon after that I pursued a modeling career in Los Angeles while co-owning 4 stores in Dallas. I truly feel that music and fashion are similar in that you need talent, creativity, and innovation to engage your audiences. I did everything from working as manager of various well-established retail stores like Jones Apparel and Kenneth Cole, to working in the multi-faceted showroom environment, where I represented over 75+ brands over the span of many years. I helped launched multiple brands from early startup and helped them grow into multi-million valued companies. Some of which include: Zanerobe, Superdry, and ON Running. I have been able to develop and understand many aspects of fashion with these various roles in the industry.

Through years of experience I have learned the importance of having a strong belief and foundation set in honesty, integrity and dedication. This is how everyone wins! In the end, selling fashion is all about making people happy: helping the consumer find something nice to wear that gives them confidence, or the retail store owner who builds long term relationships with their customers that continue return to their stores year after year, and the brand owner who finds true happiness while getting recognized for their creativity. We are all striving for that connection!

Tell us about your brand’s origin story. How did you decide it was time to launch your own brand?

We are a young agency with a lot of experience. Prior to COVID’19, I was the director of a large showroom located both in New York and Los Angeles representing 20+ brands and managing numerous employees. As COVID 19 took over the city, hitting hard on the fashion business, I realized the need for a much more resilient industry. My inability as a director to have the power to set the overall strategy for the business made me realize it was time for me to create a platform with the vision and services I knew would be successful, even during these uncertain times. LFA is much more than a regular showroom. We are offering a 360 experience, which includes: Brand Development, Public Relations, Wholesale, Fulfillment Warehouse, Business Development and mentoring for the brand owner while taking advantage of our large database and long-lasting relationships with retailers. LFA is all about integrity, quality services, and meaningful relationships, something I see as missing in our industry.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in driving the success of your business? Also, any unfavorable personal qualities you’ve been able to turn into an asset?

It is not about you. It is all about them. It is about the brand owners and their workers, the retail stores and the consumers, everything that makes their experience and business more successful is a success for you. Nobody just wants to be a blip in time, while fads are fun, they are not meaningful. You want long-lasting success, you want security and empowerment. This is what LFA is all about. Let’s all grow together deeply rooting our business and appreciating innovation which is hugely important for all stakeholders of this industry, because at the end, this is what the consumers want: an everlasting relationship with a business you trust to offer you the right products in an ever-changing environment. 

What’s in the way of real change in the industry right now?

I ask myself, what always gets in the way of real change? And I would have to say that it is fear of the unknown. We are moving into a new era. An era of mass information, of digital and social influence, of technology and innovation… and for some, this is not an easy thing to accept. But you must if you want to thrive! Some businesses are having a hard time with the transition into a more digital world and will not survive this pandemic… but the businesses that do, have become or will become stronger for it. We need to be constantly learning, re-learning, and unlearning things about the way this industry works, seek its potential, and think outside the box.

What do you hope to contribute to the space with your platform?

We can bring it back to my core beliefs in business: honesty, integrity, and dedication. I want to bring happiness and success to our retailers and to our brands. And there is only one way I know how to do this; By being honest and open.