WOW featuring Leslie Fraley

Posted by Gina Holmberg on 22nd Apr 2020

WOW featuring Leslie Fraley

This is part of a series titled WOW, or Women Owned Wednesdays. Read more about the series and my goal to genuinely support other women in my personal and professional relationships.

Leslie Fraley

I met Leslie years ago when she first opened her shop, Fine Folk, which I was thrilled to discover. It felt like a little slice of NYC—you know those amazing places totally off the beaten path? That was Leslie’s first location. It was filled with beauty, light and authenticity. Years later, after developing a friendship, I realized this was an exact reflection of her. She is truly one of my favorite people...not just because we connect in so many ways—family, fashion, travel, music, and film, but her depth and heart make for wonderful conversations about life in general.

Something that we really connect on is food! We pretty much planned an entire trip to LA around where we would eat. I was so beyond blessed that Leslie asked if I wanted to open my first shop “within” her second location of Fine Folk. It was a season of going deeper in our friendship, learning, and lots and lots of laughter. There have been many changes in our businesses through growth and relocations, but we always pick up from where we left off. I find that rare, but so is Leslie.

Can you share a bit of how you have been handling life in this crazy time, and what’s been keeping you sane?

I want to thank you, lovely friend, for inviting me to share with you. It's such a challenging time, emotionally and physically... one of the things that helped me early on was turning off the news. I’ll catch a bit here and there and will selectively listen to some news podcasts (mainly The Daily), but for the most part I’m trying to focus on getting through the days while maintaining routines to keep my nervous system in optimal health during this time:

Morning and evening rituals - my self-care/self-love portions of the day.

Cooking meals/dishes I’ve always put off because they were too time intensive and really

indulging in the ingredients. We’ve been ordering from Two Sisters Farm in Lawrence, KS, who are delivering now, and it’s been fantastic to receive the freshest greens and duck eggs.

Diving into books books books. I’ve always been an avid reader and am surrounded by books. A used book store is one place I can spend hours of delightful time. So, reading more classic literature and toggling between that and Brene Brown and the WSJ and NYTimes style magazine articles.

Evening fires on the back deck - one of my favorite things. We have the most delicious pinion wood delivered and are so lucky to have this space.

Questlove/The Roots youtube sessions are pure magic. If I miss his live evening sessions, I listen to them during the day while I work. pretty much anything to self-soothe in a productive and loving way to myself and those around me.

Are you keeping much of a work schedule? was challenging at first, but I actually write down a daily schedule of everything I wanted to accomplish during the day (it even includes oil pulling & teeth brushing!), and this helps to keep me on track and stay organized. Yet everyday is a little different and I try to give myself the space to allow that and explore what I might need or what my daughter, Leyna, might need.

There is always a silver lining to everything, I believe. One of the silver linings to what we are experiencing right now as a global community is the opportunity to reflect inward, be resourceful and CONNECT. I think it’s difficult for some to reach for the connection but we all need it and we all want it. It’s part of the human condition. So, reaching out to friends and loved ones in any way (my daughter is baking cookies, and will deliver them to friends and neighbors later this week) is an important part of my schedule.

Speaking of work, can you please share how Finefolk was born?

I would love to. I’ve always loved fashion, design, art and literature... all the things that talented humans churn out in the pursuit of truth and beauty. And I've always been attracted to the process, the craft of it. Always. As a young girl and teenager (and I’m aging myself here), all I had available were fashion magazines and books. There was a beautiful, independent bookstore in midtown Kansas City called Whistler Books. They had only the best literature, art, design and fashion books and periodicals around. It was a luxury to have in our small city, and it opened up worlds for me. I would save every penny from my odd jobs and allowance and spend it there. When I moved back to my hometown of Kansas City, I felt there was a lack of representation of this in the way of fashion, at least what I myself was looking for. So finefolk was born.

You are literally in the middle of a re-birth if you will, with Finefolk—which is so exciting! I had the privilege of seeing the new space and could not be more excited! How has this new journey been?

Thank you, Gina! That means so much to me from you. It is a re-birth, in fact, we called it a reincarnation when we discussed the closing of our old location. It’s been challenging as the quarantine began just as we were finalizing a few big details for our open, but I'm so hopeful that we will continue to be able to offer the most personal aspects of what we’ve built with the brand. I decided to shift into something slightly different and slightly more intimate because my desire is to continue to make Finefolk more personal and about surrounding ourselves with the pretty things and objects, clothing, life accessories that make us feel good. We all work hard... I think it’s important to create sanctuaries where we can release and just feel.

You literally light up when you talk about your daughter—I love the bond you two share. There is always so much negative talk about girls in their teenage years—how have you found navigating these years to be?

Oh my gosh, thank you. I’ve been very very lucky: my sweet Leyna came out of the womb an incredibly empathetic being. I think this gives her a wonderful capacity for compassion, and she’s a bit of an old soul. We actually hardly ever have conflict... which is unusual maybe? I did not have this experience as a teenager with my mother! I will say, we talk things out a lot, and we are very loving and affectionate towards one another. And of course, much respect for our individual feelings and space (two girls/one house!). Mothering her has honestly been a dream, and is the best part of my day.

How do you stay inspired?

As an introverted Pisces, I’m a bit of a dreamer. I get lost in inspiration and often lose track of time and space. Most of what inspires me are people and the things they do--whether creators, thinkers, writers... and I’m lucky to know so many who fall into this category! So: good design, good writing, good poetry, good music, good art, good food... all the things that enrich us and have the power to elevate our daily experiences and make us think and feel on a deep level.

You and I have bonded over many things—three of them being food, film and music!

Yes! You’re my favorite film referencer of all time. My top five favorite albums:

Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

52nd Street, Billy Joel

Purple Rain, Prince

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach/Glenn Gould

Channel Orange, Frank Ocean

Something you cook weekly:

It changes, but right now I'm on a Yotam Ottolenghi kick; Plenty and Jerusalem are my two favorite cookbooks of his. His instagram is also chock full of amazing ideas right now: za’atar caccio e pepe! I’m also making it a personal project to come up with a recipe for the perfect plant-based molé sauce. I love love love molé and have started with the Cap Beauty recipe with a few tweeks... I’ll keep you posted ;o)

Three of your all time favorite films:

Difficult to narrow it down to three, but here’s what comes to mind right at this moment:

The Women

The English Patient

Apocalypse Now

If you could hop on a plane tomorrow (forgetting about Covid-19) to visit a destination of your choice where would you go?

Mexico City or Japan

Favorite morning beverage?

A large glass of room temp filtered water followed by green juice followed by coffee with oat creamer.

Are you currently taking any supplements?

Oh my gosh, yes: Vit a, c, d; B - complex; Yin chao; Multi; Chlorella; Spirulina; Ashwaganda; Elderberry; Grapefruit seed extract; Pau d’arco

What’s your current skin care routine?

In the morning, I cleanse with oil if I’m not going to shower. I like Penny Frances Apothecary cleanser (we discovered each other on Instagram, and I’m so happy you carry the line). I follow with a hot towel then a C-serum and Nucifera Mist. If I shower, I use Osea cleansing milk, Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Night Serum and Nucifera. One of my treats and all time favorite products is Penny Frances Apothecary Rose Otto Facial Polish. I lose myself in the scent. I also love Sun Potion Solar Rose Water that you introduced me to as a little refresh throughout the day. One of the things I’ve found helpful during this time of stress and anxiety is applying Po Sum On medicated oil on my chest at night before bed. I was introduced to this by an TCM practitioner in New Jersey years ago, and have used it ever since when I feel I need a little help centering... it’s soothing and calming and helps me sleep.

What about exercise?

Lots of walking and some jogging with music blasting ... light weights at home and yoga. I’m wanting to pull out my rebounder and make that a part of my routine again... it’s so invigorating and such a great source of energy.

How do you wind down at night?

A hot Ashwaganda and pearl tonic and a book in bed with some incense. And sometimes (more often now (!) a glass or more of wine, preferably natural/biodynamic).

One of your favorite quotes?

So, so many... but one that comes to mind daily, like a mantra during these days is:

“Be like water.” -Bruce Lee

I came across a Darwin post the other day that really resonated with me. I will paraphrase: the ones most responsive to change are the ones who will survive/thrive. I am forever hopeful and believe that love conquers all.

Thank you, Gina, for inviting me to share. I think this exchange and connection with your people is more relevant and vital now more than ever. Love you, friend.