Leone’s passion for the industry led her to start her own production company in NYC where she works with the world’s biggest and brightest in fashion and advertising. We discover what drives her to stay at the top of her game, how she works with the planets shining stars, photographers, brands and global publications.
What motivated you to move to NY and start your production business?
I studied dietetics in Perth but always had an obsession with fashion and design. I worked for Australian fashion designer Aurelio Costarella and ACP in Sydney. After a short stint in London I headed to New York, putting together my CV and hitting a list of places where I wanted to work. After sending out close to 40 job applications, one company did get back to me Elite Model Management. I was hired as a mentor to models and among my first group of models was a young Gisele Bundchen.
Tell us a little about how you started Pony Projects?
Working at Elite I became good friends with Linda Evangelista’s sole booker who kindly took me under her wing. I went along to all these crazy parties (including one unforgettable party Madonna hosted) and it gave me an insight to the models-parties-fashion industry...working at elite was the start to my career and better things to come. I later worked for a photographers agency who represented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists - this is where I got taste for production. I built up a good base of contacts and decided to branch out on my own and start Pony Projects.
What does a typical day look like for you at Pony Projects?
My usual body clock wakes up at 5.30-6am but I don’t get out of bed till until about 7am. I always squeeze in a healthy breakfast. I will either walk, catch the bus or ride my bike from my East Village apartment to my office near Madison Gardens. At Pony Projects our team specialises in producing high quality images for editorial and advertising for luxury global brands (GAP, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harpers BAZAAR,Juergen Teller, Alasdair McLellan, to name a few). Each project is unique and requires attention to every detail. I am engaged by clients whether that’s magazines or brands to produce print images. That involves finding the location, film crew, catering, photographers, make-up artist, stylist, transport, set design, basically everything that is required for a photo shoot. One day I will be in the office; on my phone, booking talent, writing budgets and then the next I could be flying out to work on location to make sure the whole process is runs smoothly. No day is the same; I’ve shut down New York streets for Beyonce, sent Run DMC down the Hudson River in a car and put together a naughty shoot with Sting and his wife Trudie. .
What has been your biggest success?
For me, the biggest success has been to get the recognition in my industry and especially here in New York. This industry is full of creative personalities, it requires a certain type of person to be able to handle the day-to-day challenges - along with a lot perseverance. You have to be the right type of person to work with the personalities that make up this industry. Once they know and like you, then they only want to work with you.
What do you do to unwind?
Low key - I like to hang out with my friends, go out for dinner, go to the gym. I must say I do like to watch a good Aussie drama on TV and I miss Aussie sports so any chance to watch AFL or the cricket is great.
What are 3 foods you can’t live without?
Being Greek and a family of 5 girls we all learnt recipes from my mum so I love my Greek food... olives, seafood, pasta. Oh and I do love my vegemite on toast - still and Aussie girl at heart!
What would you like to do more of?
I am very driven and once I have an idea I won’t stop until I achieve it. In saying this, I still think there’s more out there for me. I want to discover another passion. I have a real connection with Australia and Western Australia in particular so to be able to combine my love for Australia and New York could be something special. Whether that’s still in the Fashion industry or Food (I still have a passion for nutrition), I haven’t decided. Essentially I want to be able to work with people I like and who inspire me..
Women that you admire.
Megan Morton – Interior Stylist. She is so talented and she believed in me right from the start. Also, Vashti Whitfield – Life Coach, Wife to the late Andy Whitfield.