[quote style=”boxed”]I’ve had a few less than desirable jobs and they all have one thing in common: terrible work environments created by poor management. If accounting ever challenges you to choose between paying vendors and collecting your salary, find a new gig. If management routinely engages in screaming matches, fear mongering, or the blame game, then find work elsewhere. If the thought of going to work gives you anxiety and causes panic, something is terribly wrong.[/quote]
Leigh Morlock has been pushing boundaries, writing, and searching for the next big idea as long as she can remember. In 2009, she packed two suitcases and moved to Siem Reap to launch Push Pull Cambodia.
Push Pull Cambodia is a social enterprise that hires underemployed weavers to nourish the craft of Ikat. Our mission is to invest a portion of our revenues back into the weaving community for developmental projects they have prioritized. To do this, we combine traditional Ikat weaving techniques with modern design aesthetics to create innovative Ikat textiles, fashion accessories, and home decor.
In addition to co-founding Push Pull Cambodia, Leigh is the Creative Director. In the last two years, Push Pull has grown from a team of 8 working in their homes to opening a weaving center that employs approximately 45 artisans. In September of this year, Push Pull released its first collection of handbags and home décor.
In her spare time, Leigh Morlock is a midnight hustler, blogger & possibility evangelist at Juicy Explosive Possibility, and prolific tweeter.
Previous gigs include Creative Coordinator at LeSportsac; Theater Director & Assistant Director at regional theaters in New Jersey, New York, & Maine; Intern for the State of New Jersey, Office of Management & Budget; pharmacy cashier; door-to-door knife salesman; and, theme park game employee.
She studied Theater Arts & Political Science at Drew University, which is proof that a liberal arts education can lead to careers never imagined.
What are you working on right now?
I’m hard at work on the design and development of Push Pull Cambodia’s Fall 2012 patterns and products, which have a liberated back-to-school vibe. We’ve just finalized the Spring 2012 season (nautical Ikat!), so I’m working on collateral, marketing & sales strategies. And, I’m tweaking the website, updating copy, and overseeing our Cambodian operations.
Where did the idea for Push Pull Cambodia come from?
A friendship, a gift, and a need. Our owner Daniel Flickinger visited Siem Reap for the first time in 2007 where he met Kongkea Chhay, then a tuk-tuk driver. Dan & Kongkea became friends and the former began to mentor the latter. In a subsequent trip to Cambodia, Kongkea took Dan to his homeland and introduced his family. Kongkea’s mother gave Dan a present of traditional silk Ikat.
Dan was at once impressed by the craftsmanship and disheartened by the poverty in the village. After returning home he started to conceptualize a business that would employ Cambodian weavers.
At the end of 2009, I joined Dan to explore the viability of such a business. Early in 2010, marketing and operations strategist Joellen Nicholson joined our team. Four months later, Push Pull Cambodia was born. Kongkea is our Field & Operations Manager. Many of his friends, family, and neighbors work at the weaving center in Takeo, Cambodia.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m a night owl. I do my best work in the quiet of night when the office is empty and it seems like I’m the only person awake. Therefore, I start and finish my days later than most, especially Cambodians who are notorious for waking up around 5 am. Some recent activities include designing new patterns, researching a seasonal color palette, formulating our trend direction, writing web copy, designing an email, paying bills, and editing video footage.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My creative process usually involves a few key phases: consumption, incubation, jumping in, hating everything, re-evaluating, refining, implementing, and finishing.
3 trends that excite you?
Local influences on global production. Consumers want to connect with where something is made. Therefore brands, large & small, which produce around the globe will let local culture influence the look and feel of their products.
Aligning online and offline worlds. Integrating different facets of your life instead of compartmentalizing. The trend towards wholeness.
Myth-busting & Truth-Speaking. I’m incredibly invigorated by the bloggers, coaches, magazines, businesses, etc. who are opening up lines of communication, spreading ideas, and creating connections. I like that business gurus are talking about failure. I think vulnerability is powerful and exciting.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve had a few less than desirable jobs and they all have one thing in common: terrible work environments created by poor management. If accounting ever challenges you to choose between paying vendors and collecting your salary, find a new gig. If management routinely engages in screaming matches, fear mongering, or the blame game, then find work elsewhere. If the thought of going to work gives you anxiety and causes panic, something is terribly wrong.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d start earlier and fail faster. I wouldn’t wait as long for the right conditions. I’d hurl myself into the process sooner to learn quicker.
What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
Ask loads of questions, especially of the people who are going to use your proposed solution. Dig until you think you understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Then, ask more questions. Chances are you don’t have it all figured out just yet.
Tell us a secret…
I’m one of those touchy-feely, impractical, types who rely on intuition and gut instinct.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I want to be part of an active and engaged social network solely for social entrepreneurs and social businesses, categorized both by geographic location and issue. Anyone want to help make that happen?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Life, Paint & Passion by Michele Cassou & Stewart Cubley. This book is a delicious exploration of the creative process in easily digestible chapters. Sure, they talk about painting but the lessons and practices can be easily applied to the creative activity of your choice. It’s cathartic, liberating, and provocative.
If you weren’t working on Push Pull Cambodia, what would you be doing?
I might be pounding the pavement as a theater director, advocating for homelessness + hunger, researching trends, or writing.
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
@CatherineCaine. A self-described magnificence amplifier who pushes people to do their best work to achieve both cash & joy. She’s also a great storyteller.
@USEmbPhnomPenh. Super helpful for expats in Cambodia.
@intuitivebridge. Bridget Pilloud mines her own inner wisdom to find the universal truths that will help you personally and professionally. She asks great questions and provides terrific insights.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Last night. I’ve recently started watching 30 Rock. Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy, Tracy Jordan, Jenna Maroney, and Kenneth Parcell is a recipe for raucous laughter.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Dyana Valentine. Ashley Ambirge. Mike Rios. Bridget Pilloud. Tara Gentile. Nate St. Pierre. Simon Sinek. Gala Darling. Alexandra Franzen. Catherine Caine.
Why Push Pull? What does it mean?
Push Pull is a reference to a number of things: the give and take of ideas that creates brilliance; pushing a needle through fabric and pulling the thread; and the motion necessary to move combs back and forth on a loom.
Push Pull recognizes that new ideas come from the collision of old ideas. We marry opposites –traditional techniques & modern design—to innovate.
What do you mean by possibility evangelist?
I’m currently building and writing Juicy Explosive Possibility, a blog dedicated to spreading the message that challenging does not equal impossible. I know, with every fiber of my being, that difficult is the center of juicy, explosive, possibility. I’m on a mission to catalyze people to dive into possibility despite fear and adversity.
Leigh Morlock on Twitter: @tenaciousleigh