At the swagger movement, we get the opportunity to interview many incredible women. Their stories will be part of the book The Girl’s Guide to Swagger. Some of the interviews are so inspiring that we can’t wait for you to read them – so we will be running interviews as part of the blog.
To kick off the series, we interviewed Ann Alexander Leggett. She is a woman of incredible energy and accomplishment. Whenever I see her, I come away feeling inspired. Ann is an author, artist, athlete, runs her own company, and has founded a new skin care line. I asked Ann to tell us about her many projects and how the new skin care products were created in response to her own personal health challenge.
Can you briefly describe your current business and major projects?
In a nutshell, I own my own PR/marketing/design firm, OceanGirl Design (http://www.oceangirldesign.com). I have been working for myself for 28 years. Currently, I am doing a lot of PR for major street reconstruction projects, and design/marketing work for a large concrete company and an oil and gas services firm. My job requires me to be very detailed, very communicative, very upbeat.
I am also an artist and I work in mixed media. As a result of that, I am in the process of creating an eclectic neighborhood art market in Boulder 2mrkt.com . I am the co-creator of a natural skin care company with my son that we expect to have up and running this spring. I am an author and just wrote a book with my daughter. “A Haunted History of Denver’s Croke-Patterson Mansion” (http://amzn.to/y383b6) was released by History Press last September. I am an active fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and several times a year I gather all my friends for events I plan to benefit that organization. In the fall I head to Austin to ride 50 miles on my bike to raise more money. I am also studying for my pilot’s license. I may be 90 by the time I get it, but by God, I will get it.
Tell us about why you started the new skin care line
After the treatments for my breast cancer, I started doing some research. The first question you ask when you are diagnosed with cancer is “why me?” In the quest to find out “why,” I found some interesting stuff that I had never paid much attention to before. For example, the typical woman is exposed to 200 harmful chemicals before she leaves her house in the morning. And most of those are in her personal body/makeup products. I looked at the labels on my products and literally threw everything away.
My particular kind of cancer was fed by estrogen. Parabens, a common preservative used in personal care products for both men and women, have been shown to mimic estrogen and are known to disrupt hormone function. This is just one of the many dangerous ingredients found in body care products. Phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan (just go look at your labels). Once I dumped everything in the trash I was faced with nothing to use. I had to find alternatives. It was a major — and expensive — pain in the butt. It would have been easier just to keep it all and forget about it…take my chances. Ten years ago there weren’t that many good alternatives, so for years now I have been looking for safe alternatives, and making products in my kitchen to use, and I have finally decided that it is time to take this to the next level. Another whole thing to learn – the science of formulation, the best ingredients…it goes on and on. I love it. I love the creation of something that will be so valuable to people. It’s my way to give back. Makes me feel good. The company is called +plus modern skin (http://plusmodernskin.tumblr.com). We’ll launch in early April. Five years after my cancer experience, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He is fine now too, but still. This company is near and dear to my heart.
Any other projects arise through responding to life challenges?
All of my projects are a result of responding to life challenges. There will be more challenges and more projects. Like so many others, I’ve had lots of off-the-chart tough times. As a result, I am always in overdrive. I am very driven. Perhaps to a fault, maybe, but it’s how I am wired. I strive to always get better. I strive to be the best at what I do. It certainly has its pitfalls at times. I don’t sleep much for days at a time, and I don’t take many days off. I worry. I stress. My mind never stops. So, I create art as a calm down. Or I go fly. Or I go to the gym. Or I vacuum. But actually, the busier I am, the more my mind is at peace, even though being so busy makes me crazy sometimes. It’s when I’m quiet that I get in trouble.
What can you say about the role of high confidence in finding the courage to take on so many unique and ambitious projects?
Confidence? Yikes. I feel as though I am always walking off a cliff. I know that if I don’t do it, I will be disappointed with myself. I hold myself to very high standards. I am very ambitious. I love to learn. My ambitious projects are a result of me being different and very creative. I love having a million balls in the air and I like the craziness and different types of projects with which I am involved. It keeps me interested. It takes courage and confidence and ambition to just DO it. The best ad slogan ever is from Nike. It’s my mantra: JUST DO IT! I live my life by that. Every day.
For example, people ask me how to write books. How did I get them done? How did I get them published? How did I stay focused on writing? My answer is: Just write it! Just DO it! If you just do it, whatever it is, your life will fall into place. Take the steps you are afraid to take. In the end it will fulfill you. And that is what’s important.
Note: The story of Ann pursuing her pilot’s license is so good that we will run that story as installment #2 in the Women with Swagger Series.