#30: Jenny Leshem, Co-Founder of Leshem Loft

Introducing Jenny Leshem, co-founder of Leshem Loft, an art and portrait studio in New York City. Jenny and Yaron Leshem started Leshem Loft with the idea of creating beautiful portraits as art in their client’s home. Jenny and Yaron's passion is to capture a handful of beautiful portraits that are then printed large scale as art pieces for the home, in black and white or color. There is no limitation in the size of the art they create. Yaron is an internationally recognized artist, whose work is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

Our integrity is extremely important. It is very important to us that we treat everyone the same and give everyone an incredible experience. No matter who we photograph it is important to us that everyone walks away from the experience feeling like they had fun and feeling good about themselves. We have clients who place small and large orders but in our mind it doesn’t matter, as everyone is treated equally regardless of the size of their order. It is also critical to our core values that we respect our clients privacy. No matter where we photograph a client, all editing, re touching and printing is done in our studio in New York City. We do not outsource any of our work and no one will ever see images unless our client signs off on a model release. But it is more than that as our clients trust us to keep everything they say or do on a photo shoot confidential. In order to form a connection with our clients we are often sharing intimate details and it is integral to our business that we never betray these confidences. Once you say something to us you can count on us that it will never be repeated. And finally, we are constantly pushing ourselves to create unique experiences and art pieces and never just fall back on doing the same thing that worked well in the past.

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

No matter how big or small the failures over the past 13 years have been, we have never had a problem admitting them, examining them and making changes. I often share with our clients to stop projecting perfection in their photographs and we heed this advice as well. We go with our gut a lot in our business and thankfully it has worked out most of the time, but not always and when this happens we are not ashamed of the failure. By admitting this and moving forward we can focus on the next steps to fixing the problem. Most recently we have been struggling with delivery expectations. Because everything is moving so fast now and most companies are delivering immediately it has been frustrating for some of our clients to accept that because we do everything in our studio and we are creating art it takes time. I realized that I had failed in informing our clients properly how long the process can take. Our delivery dates are approximate but because we are a small mom and pop business even the slightest unexpected occurrence can set us back a few weeks. For example, last month my husband and I came down with the Flu and as a result all orders in the pipeline were delayed an extra 3 weeks.

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future? 

We have started shooting in new cities and that is always so exciting. Not only do we get to experience a new place, new people and new food we also use the new location as inspiration to come up with different ideas. We are known for creating dreamlike scenes where you and your loved ones or group are the subjects of the final art piece. It could be a family, extended family, employees that work together, best friends etc. and when we get to shoot in new places we always see something that sparks something that if we had not been in that location we may not have thought of. One of the things that I love about what we do is that even though the feel of a Leshem Loft art piece is similar, each and every person or family who commissions us to create an art piece has an incredibly unique piece that integrates sentimental meaningful things and actions in it to make it more specific to them. I love that our work does not look like anyone else works. In addition, I am super excited that we are about to do a family scene for our own family. In our spare time we are not usually shooting so I finally had to carve out time and “book” a shoot for our 3 girls and my husband and I. This will be our first family shoot in 4 years so I am super excited to see how it turns out as our family scenes are usually pretty over the top.