Top of Mind
Good People: Leigh Plessner
By Crown Affair
Welcome to Good People, an interview series featuring those who inspire us and keep us forever excited for the future. This month's Person is Catbird’s Creative Director of almost twenty years, Leigh Plessner. Her home feels like a piece of signature Catbird jewelry—delicate, poetic, and leaving you curious to know more. Read her full interview here:
- Where did you grow up, and what were you into as a kid?
I grew up on the South Shore of Long Island, not far from Jones Beach. I am the oldest, and the only girl. I always still feel as though, because of this, I missed the day in school where they taught certain fundamentals of femininity.
I was a reader, my dad reminded me recently that I fell asleep with books in my bed. I still do. My parents divorced when I was young, and I didn’t quite fit in socially, but I found a few very special and wonderful friends (my mother always said that you if you had true blue friends you could count on one hand, you were set).
I went to a public high school for theater where we read Shakespeare, I watched black and white movies on VHS, listened to records of Peter and the Wolf, loved my grandparents and my brothers, and had a mother that taught me to make lemonade from lemons and that the unkindness I felt in elementary school would make me more empathetic. I try to make good on that.
- How would you describe your creative style? Where has creativity led you in the past?
I’m like a spider spinning a web, and my silk is books, movies, childhood, long walks home, morning coffee as the snow begins to fall, subway rides. The only creativity I have comes from putting these things together, pulling at a thread, and the tides of memory. I need to slosh around in the bathtub of my brain for a long time.
- How did you wind up at Catbird? What about your job resonates most with you?
After college I became a stationery buyer at the venerable bookstore, Politics & Prose, in Washington D.C. It was a second education. I left to come back to New York and start my own stationery line called Jezebel, which was based on antique silhouettes set with one line stories on the back, printed in candy colors, and vellum envelopes like a scrim.
In 2004, I met Rony, the founder of Catbird, at the stationery show at the Javits Center. I started working at Catbird one day a week and then more and more, and after a few years I closed my stationery business (after making so many mistakes!) and only worked at Catbird. Almost twenty years later, I still feel as though we are doing something new most days, while telling a long and winding story.
- What has your relationship to your hair been? Past, present, how has it changed over time?
I’ve just started cutting my hair myself, which feels very freeing, a small thrill (like getting zapped with one of our Forever Bracelets, or a little lower lobe ear piercing). It began going gray (silver, I tell myself) from black when my mom died, and just galloped along. I never interfered because I didn’t know how, or what to do, and couldn’t be bothered even if I did. The silver has now overtaken the black and sometimes I’m startled to see myself, and even more startled when anyone speaks to me about it. I still see myself as black-haired, I suppose, with baby fine hair, rather than what it is now (rather wild) but that is alright. It is evidence of my love.
- Any advice you'd give others with a similar hair type to yours?
No, though if any dear readers have advice for me, please share!
- What is your current haircare ritual/routine?
I wash my hair every few days, with whatever gentle shampoo and conditioner I have around. I let it air dry, and occasionally use a fine tooth comb. A little bit of dry shampoo is helpful on days between washing. I use slim headbands, often shiny. I love looking for them at dollar stores and old pharmacies.
- What kinds of things do you do to care for yourself, inside and out?
I take long walks. It feels like swimming through the city and helps to untie knots.
- Do you have a personal philosophy about hair or beauty in general? How does it tie back to your work?
I like things that are quiet and shimmering and a little undone. My work feels this way, I hope.
- What things make you happiest?
Holding hands with my daughter, seeing glimmers of her knowing my mother—even though they never met. The feeling of being one pearl on a long necklace.
- INTERVIEWED BY:
Anna Jube, Crown Affair Brand Manager. Photographed by David Cortes.