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Leena Alsulaiman: “If it doesn’t bring me peace, laughter, or closer to my goals, I have no time for it”

Covid -19 slowed everything down. And the more things slow down, the more clear they become. And what became clear to so many of us is that we had lost sight of the important stuff, we were rushing mindlessly through life from one goal post to the next. Things were moving so fast nothing was […]

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Covid -19 slowed everything down. And the more things slow down, the more clear they become. And what became clear to so many of us is that we had lost sight of the important stuff, we were rushing mindlessly through life from one goal post to the next. Things were moving so fast nothing was relished or cherished. We quickly moved from one event to the next. Compartmentalizing was a superpower.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leena Alsulaiman.

Drawing from her Middle Eastern and American heritage, fashion stylist and brand consultant Leena Alsulaiman is empowering women worldwide with her newly launched consultancy. In addition to building her business, the Bay Area-based single mother of three balances virtual schooling, managing her busy household, plus carving out time for self-care to recharge.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

As a young girl growing up in Saudi Arabia, I always gravitated towards things’ creative side. My parents encouraged that. Reflecting on my diverse career history, I see that designing and creating is something I have always done in one form or another.

For many years, I took the path of a creative entrepreneur. I unconsciously always brought a side of creativity to my roles. While that was my “day job,” my passion led me to color outside the lines. I offered my expertise and knowledge to women starting their ventures, growing their brands, or making career moves.

In my consultancy, I created a business model in which I cater to my passions by creating a platform to serve women by creating magic through their brands and powers.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

Well, the official launch date for my website and services (planned for months ahead, mind you) was June 1st — which fell on the first day of the BLM social media movement and blackout. It was another pivot point, but I can proudly share that I donated a percentage of all the services booked that month to BLM.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My consultancy has been evolving relatively quickly as I listen and pivot to meet my clients’ needs.

Currently, I am working on my platform’s educational arm to better serve and support a higher number of female entrepreneurs.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people that have been instrumental in my growth, but there are three people who, without I would not be where I am today. Those three are my children. They are my biggest cheerleaders and critics.

When the pandemic hit, and we had to shelter in place, I was literally signing the agreement hiring my website designer. With all the uncertainty looming, I was unsure if I should continue to push through, or if it would be better to put everything on hold. When I mentioned these crossroads to my kids, they said: “You always tell us there is no perfect time. There will always be something. Just do it, it’s time.” And the rest is history!

Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family-related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

Balance.

It is hands down, the one thing every working woman/mother struggles with. But with Covid-19, the challenges of juggling online schooling, working from home, running a business, while carving out family time, and “me” time out have been exasperated.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

As a single mom with three teenagers doing a mix of college and high school from home, in addition to running my consultancy, routine and family calendars have saved the day! Routine helps us all feel like we have some control of our days, and we make sure to schedule in family device-free time into our weeks to make sure we don’t get caught up in the online world.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

My biggest challenge has been to keep up with the pace of change. With the business ecosystem changing so much, I find I am in a constant cycle of creating to meet my clients’ needs and my business.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

If you are not having open conversations with clients, other business owners, you will fall behind.

I am always asking my clients, fellow business owners, and followers on my social media platforms what they need, how I can serve them more efficiently, and how I can help support them better.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Create office hours, so you know that you have given your “work” the time it needs, so when you are outside of those hours, you can fully concentrate on your family needs and homeschooling. I have found that creating a structure to our days has helped in my overall productivity while making my family time even more connected, relaxed, and enjoyable.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

I use airplane mode during the day, whether I am working or not, and I designate ‘me’ time every day. Drawing boundaries by managing when people have access to me and my energy. There is such freedom in being unattached to the world, and I find it calms my nervous system, which, as a working mother, is almost always in standby mode! Let people leave voicemails and the kids can leave post-it notes, and I get back to them when it is time.

Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Covid -19 slowed everything down. And the more things slow down, the more clear they become. And what became clear to so many of us is that we had lost sight of the important stuff, we were rushing mindlessly through life from one goal post to the next. Things were moving so fast nothing was relished or cherished. We quickly moved from one event to the next. Compartmentalizing was a superpower.

But as COVID leveled the playing field on a global level, we are now all collectively experiencing the same fears, thoughts, and uncertainty. This experience has brought us together in ways no one could have predicted. We will emerge from this pandemic more: resilient, more connected, more empathetic, more resourceful, and so much more deliberate.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain it?

As a notoriously anxious person myself, I have found that doing a ‘brain dump’ journaling session every morning has helped tremendously. Somehow it takes all those thoughts and ideas that are just hanging out in my subconscious and puts them on paper, and the weight is immediately lighter. I also am a huge fan of daily meditation; it gives me some alone time and helps put things into perspective.

Beyond this, for anyone wanting to support an anxious loved one, my advice is this: Create the space for them to share and talk out loud, don’t offer solutions, don’t try to rationalize the anxious thoughts. Just listen without judgment.

Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If it doesn’t bring me peace, laughter, or closer to my goals, I have no time for it.”

I am very protective of my time and energy. When I created boundaries and enforced them, it gave me the space I needed to manage everything that I do, happily.

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