Leah Brown of Warehouse 3540
It only takes a short conversation with Leah to discover that the ideas + dreams you have are possible. She's probably one of the best at supporting others in the realization of their dreams; adding momentum and support to businesses ideas that are only in infancy. Forever an optimist on what "could be" , she's not afraid to try new things and see what has traction and moves the vision forward. Here she shares about her own journey with Warehouse 3540 and how this space has been a catalyst for her own growth.
How did this all begin?
I believe it was around 2015 that I started working and really dreaming with Ariana about the potential of the warehouse. It was such a blank canvas at the time. A few months into being there, Ty and Ariana had to relocate their family to Seattle without a lot of notice. With that came a large growing season for me that I did not see coming, to this day I am so grateful for.
What is it like transitioning from kid raising (5 boys! ) to running a space and a community of shop owners? How is this season of life ideal for this pursuit?
That is a good question. I do still have a 13 year old at home so it is kind of like being on the brink of post kids but not quite there yet. This can be a delicate dance. At times I feel like I could take off and be free to “go for it” but I realize the short amount of time I have left with him. Having raised five sons, it’s like a blink and that role has changed.
As far as the “ideal” part of this season goes, I care so much less about disappointing people and have the “bigger picture/long term vision” as my focus more often. This my friend is a beautiful thing!
What has surprised you along the way?
My ability to lead.
Often in my life this has been handed to me and I really didn’t want it, so I’d hand it back. I wanted to be a mom and wife more than anything. Keep life simple. I’ve actually been very weary of leading. It carries a lot of responsibility at times that I honestly didn't always want. I’m just keep’n it real ladies ;). I have seen that pressure in peoples lives alter who they are and why they do what they do. I've asked myself so many times, is it worth it? I think the answer to that is yes…if you are doing what you love and keep check of your “why, who, how and what”. That always, for me, brings it back to the center. I don’t know about you but I NEED center and balance.
What does success look like in this arena?
That is a good question. I think that success in what I do, first looks like Joy. I know that probably sounds cheesy but it's what first came to mind. Let me explain. If I am finding joy in my job (Warehouse 3540) then I spread that to not only the shop owners but also anyone who comes to visit, shop, eat, sell, etc. at the warehouse. It is setting up an environment of joy. Like a ripple effect. Simple. Second, that we create a space where we all get to be creative in our own way and hone into our strengths and help each other in our weak spots. That to me is success.
What is your unique strength that flourishes in this environment?
I sincerely like people. I love to see people succeed! I love connecting people. I want to hear their stories. I can fan out hard when I see someone step past their comfort zone and do something new(especially women)! I have gotten a chance to be surrounded by this not only at the warehouse but island wide. I also love taking old things/places and making them beautiful.
What was it like to step away from this and now return?
I am definitely still finding my rhythm. Feeling things out, watching. Seeing when and where we need to change, remove, add and grow. I have always felt that Warehouse 3540 is a constantly evolving space. Sometimes it happens so slowly you may not notice but we have come so far from the overgrown and neglected warehouse we all use to drive past in Lawai.
How does this space and what you do transform businesses?
I think that Warehouse 3540 is unique in the way that we provide a safe and affordable place for someone to start a first time, small business. We are very much a community, the warehouse, that is important to me. Also that the shop owners know that they are a important part and that they are cared for.
What makes Warehouse3540 unique on Kauai?
In a time where business is becoming more and more impersonal and expensive we want the Warehouse to be an option that makes owning/starting a business a possibility. A big part of our focus is being a space for Kauai makers as either a pop-up or shop owner.
What do you envision here 10 years from now?
My hope is that Warehouse 3540 and the new and up-coming Lawai Arts District (down the road) will be a thriving small business option, a daily hub for locals and a destination for visitors to come experience a genuine side of Kauai. I also look forward to collaborating with more small businesses to discover how we can benefit from each others strengths and continue to grow.