Laura Barrett Larkins

Founder of LeBL Creative Consulting

Laura Barrett Larkins is an actress and social media content creator, as well as the CMO and Founder of LéBL Creative Consulting based in Los Angeles + London. LéBL Creative is an agency focused on creative direction, community management, influencer relations, and experiential marketing.

Laura has been featured in Brides Magazine UK, Feminine Feminist Magazine, Forbes, Focus TV and was a panelist speaker at the Affiliate Summit West 2019.

Laura showcases her life and travels on all social media channels which can be found @thelauralarkins.

Where did the idea for LéBL Creative Consulting come from?

Honestly, LeBL Creative Consulting came about after years of freelancing, working for other people, and choosing to actually put a team together myself, knowing that over the years I had met all the right people to truly bring my vision to life. I understood the struggles small businesses and start up brands without a ton of funding faced when trying to compete online with comparable brands that had millions of dollars to spend on ads and top tier PR agencies. I wanted to be the company that truly helped the little guy or the underdog, and I think I’ve been able to really hone in on what solid community building, creative direction, and brand messaging can do for these businesses.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I probably have a strange schedule compared to most entrepreneurs who tend to love waking up as the sun rises. As I am currently based in London, and many of my clients are based in Los Angeles or New York, I have the luxury of being able to sleep in, which I love. I have never been a morning person and I have never truly understood why society places so much value on waking up early, as if that’s a telltale sign of someone’s moral compass or productivity? I never set alarms (unless I have to) and I naturally tend to wake up around 10 am, have coffee and breakfast, do a quick morning yoga routine, shower, and start work around noon. Which makes no difference to my clients, because they’re not even awake until 3 or 4 PM my time. It’s lush really. From there I work until around 6 or 7 PM London time with no breaks. I am one of those people that once I get in the zone, I can’t stop. So shorter, more intense bursts of work tend to work well for me. Once I’m finished for the day, I either make dinner with my husband, or head out to meet friends for dinner or a drink. I’m big on work/marriage/social life balance. I need to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled in all areas of my life in order to be the best I can be for myself and my clients.

How do you bring ideas to life?

For each client it is different, which is a big part of what makes my industry so enjoyable. I usually start by asking the standard questions; “who are we marketing to?” “what do you want the tone of the brand to be”, and the most dreaded question of them all “what’s the budget for this”. From there I get to brainstorming and I pitch the client my ideas. Once we have settled on an approach to the creative direction, I get to work sourcing materials for a photoshoot, casting models, reaching out to influencers, whatever I need to do for the campaign, I do it.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I really love the current focus on environmentally conscious and sustainable brands. Both in the way brands conduct themselves as well as all of the apps that are popping up to help existing brands cut down their carbon footprint. For example, all of the clothes sharing apps that have popped up, I LOVE THEM! I use them all the time both to lend out my clothes and make a little extra money, and to rent clothes for events. It saves people money and also can make luxury fashion more accessible to more people. The key to the success of these apps in my opinion is going to be to keep them local, so they aren’t adding to emissions by using planes and trains or whatever to get the pieces to the renters. But I love my local London clothes sharing companies, and I am really excited to see apps like these pop up in other major cities.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I allow myself time to rest and recharge. I wasn’t always that way, and I experienced some pretty intense career burn out a few years back, but I’ve found that my mind flows more readily with ideas when I’m not burning the candle at both ends.

What advice would you give your younger self?

A friend of mine gave me this advice in my late twenties and I wish I had been told this earlier in life; THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO UNLESS YOU ASK. Which is to say, don’t be afraid of rejection, you have to ask for what you want. The answer might be no, but it could be yes! Either way, if the answer is no, you’re still in the exact same place. Ask for the raise. Ask for the start-up money. Hell, ask for the vacation time!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You don’t have to respond to work texts or emails right away. No one expects you to be available 100% of the time, and if they do, that’s their problem. I truly believe that millennials specifically got a bit too used to instant gratification in all forms of life and business, and we could stand to take a step back and move a little slower. Gen-Z gets that, and I’m excited to see them enter the workforce and advocate for healthier practices.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Even if you are a C-Level executive of your own company, ask your employees to review you, and take the criticism to heart. A business is only as effective as it’s management, and good employees are worth keeping happy.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

It’s simple for me really, I keep my clients happy, and ask them for referrals. LeBL Creative is, and always will be, a business focused on the little guys, so we tend to kick it old school when it comes to lead generation.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Most of my big life failures came before I started my own business, for example, getting fired from my job as a wedding planner at 22 years old for botching a contract and losing the venue I worked for $3000. I was devastated when I lost that job, but it taught me a valuable lesson about paying attention to detail (and hiring a CPA to do my books haha!).
Once I went out on my own, for a while I tried to do too many different things, instead of being great at a few things. I had to really sit with myself for a moment and say “what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses” and cut out the weak spots. Being an entrepreneur requires a level of self-awareness that can almost be painful at times, but it is necessary to grow.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I really want someone to create the computerized closet Cher had in Clueless… it’s 2021, why don’t we have that yet?? No, but in all seriousness, I’ve thought about starting a business or app where people could exchange airline miles, avios points, hotel points, etc. for goods and services in a crypto-currency like way. I’m not the person to make that happen because finance is not my jam but I think there’s an interesting concept in there somewhere.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent $100 on a couple of Jo Malone Candles, working 100% from home during covid lockdowns, it became really important to me to have a clean, nice smelling space to work out of.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use canva almost every day. For presentations, flyers for clients, creating instagram story slides, etc. It’s a great tool for creatives.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’ll give you 2,
Guac Is Extra But So Am I, by Sarah Soloman – because it’s a great, light hearted read that provides real, insightful advice for the younger generation.

Watermelon, by Marian Keyes – because it’s a great story about what it’s like to have it all, lose it all, and pull yourself back together.

What is your favorite quote?

“When in doubt, go to the library” – Ron Weasley.

Key Learnings:

  • Successful people take care of themselves. They rest. They make sure their needs are met. You can not do the best for your clients or your customers if you are burning the candle at both ends.
  • Always ask for what you want, the worst someone can say is “No.”
  • There is no “correct” work style or schedule anymore. If short bursts of productivity works for you, that’s ok! As long as you are setting goals and accomplishing them, you’re still on the right track.