Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Leslie Ann Pilling is a visionary with a passion for Fashion Design and Technology. For over three decades she has been on the forefront of the design ethos with a local to global outreach. Based in the city of Detroit, her clients are both start-ups and established small to mid-range business. Pilling owns and operates her design consulting and on-demand apparel manufacturing with a small efficient team. She is Founder/President of Presence II Inc., Executive Director of Design and innovation at Presence II Productions, Founder /President of Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit and WoW Ambassador in Detroit, Michigan (USA).
Leslie Ann, welcome to our team! Tell us how did you find out about Women of Wearables?
I found out about WoW when researching for the presentation I was invited to speak at for the Detroit Polymer Symposium on November 2018.
You are an entrepreneur yourself, what is the idea behind your projects and business?
Yes... born, live, work and play as an entrepreneur, Parent company is Presence II inc. is an umbrella over Presence II Productions DBA, and have general co-partnered with multiple other start-ups in the fashion and decor arena.
MM-O-DD (Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit) is a 501C3 non-profit. As Founder/President there is on-going programming to emphasize the design Industry to all ages.
The idea behind all projects and business is about the commitment to excellence in Design. From concept to consumer, the approach my company is focused on is intelligence resourcing and gold-standard sustainable practices.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
Presence II Inc. was started in 1989. We have a small team of three. We also work with on-demand out-source of talented mainly women who all maintain a strict code of ethics and workmanship.
What are your projects you're working on at the moment?
Currently the projects we are working on are multiple Menswear accessory-lines, Women's Ready-to-Wear line with Technology component, Fine Art Collection which is in prototype phase, Wearables component and more.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle is working with start-ups and what it takes for them to stay focused and scale to the next level.
How about biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is yet to come.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in?
We require our clients to order as intelligently as possible. We offer small run capabilities, and although good for our client and the planet, it is tough to make as much profit as we would like.
How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
When first building my business I was 22 years old and had never even hear the word entrepreneur. My step-father started saying about my entrepreneurial talents. Flash forward to now. Over the years, challenge has mainly been with the struggles with gender-equality and gender-to-gender respect.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
As a personal passion, wearable technology and the advancement of women in business is deep-seeded with a strong goal to involve the industry.
How does the tech ecosystem look in Detroit? What will be your main goals as Women of Wearables Ambassador in Detroit?
In Detroit there is a strong tech eco-system, with a focus on automotive industry.
#1 Gather like-minded diverse women who have strong interest in Wearables.
#2 Promote the WoW outreach. We can build a platform, invite others who offer educational insight into wearable tech.
#3 Seek collaboratives and sponsors / conference partnership opportunities
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and fashion tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
That is a full question! The trends hopefully will expand and diversify from the professionals involved in developing wearable tech. to the public who wears fashion with wearables. There needs to be a broader view about wearable tech. Currently innovation is still hovering over fitness and health. More flex-tech materials as integrated user friendly offerings to the public are the next steps.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in tech?
Christina Mercando from Ringly, Lea Von Bidder from Ava and Grace Hais from Warmilu.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.