We had the good fortune of connecting with Charlene Paksima and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Charlene, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work life balance has changed as the business and our family has grown. When I first started LEILA, I would work non-stop. I ran the company from my small apartment, I would get up, start working and continue working until 10pm included weekends. In the beginning, it was just me and my husband doing everything, sales, production, finance, shipping, etc. Slowly as we grew, we were able to hire a sales rep and an employee to help fulfill orders. Once I had my son in 2010 everything shifted. Becoming a mom brought a welcomed balance to my life. I was still working a lot but taking more breaks to take care of him. Now we have 5 employees and I’m able to be home with my 3 kids by 4:30 and no longer work weekends. This year when COVID hit, I had to learn how to balance working from home and helping my kids with their distance learning. It was challenging but we made it work and I enjoyed that time with them. When owning your own business, it’s easy to feel like there’s a million things that need to get done at all times, but it’s so important to balance the two. We still have our busy times where we have to work a lot more. During these times it’s harder but I always make sure that it doesn’t impact my kids life. If I have to work a long day I’ll go home to make dinner, put them to bed and then head back to the studio after.   

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

How did you get to where you are today? I didn’t always plan on becoming a jewelry designer. It started as a hobby I shared with my mother, something we both enjoyed and bonded over. I absolutely loved making jewelry; but, as a young girl, I never imagined it could become my career. So, I decided to take the traditional path and go to college, where I studied graphic design at UC San Diego. But after starting my first graphic design job, life took an unexpected turn. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and was eventually hospitalized. I spent hours in her hospital room and, to take our minds off of things, I began playing around with wire and semiprecious stones again. My mom loved to watch me create new pieces and, for me, it was just nice to see her smile. Sadly, my beloved mom lost her fight with cancer. After she passed away, I realized that making trend jewelry was something I loved that kept me connected to her. With this renewed passion, I began selling my jewelry at farmer’s markets and local boutiques. It wasn’t long before I had an L.A. showroom, and my stones, beads and wire started taking over the apartment I shared with my husband. With a ton of trial and error, hard work, and dedication, my hobby had become a legitimate business. As my little company began to grow, my husband decided to leave his job and join me in this new venture, transforming my one-woman workshop into an even stronger husband-and-wife team. We’ve been designing trend jewelry together since 2005, and it’s been an incredible (and sometimes-frenzied) journey. We are so proud to say our designs have been sold in more than 400 stores, featured in such magazines as Lucky, InStyle, Elle Girl, InTouch, Glamour, and OK! Magazine, and have been worn by some of Hollywood’s fashionable stars, including Eva Longoria, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Hayden Panettiere, and Lauren Conrad. For a long time, trend jewelry was our primary focus. It wasn’t until the birth of our son that I felt drawn to more meaningful everyday staples rather than the latest trends. Today our jewelry designs are engraved and custom made with a minimal + modern look and sold on our website (www.leila.com) or our etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/leilajewelryshop). Making jewelry that means something to our customers is so important to us. We craft each piece from beginning to end and are proud of our quality. I love hearing the stories behind the jewelry we make, each piece is truly special. What sets us apart is that we care: we care about our quality, we care that our customers have a good experience and are happy with their purchases, and we care about our employees.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being that it’s COVID, I would get take out from a local restaurant and take them to the beach or the bay in Pacific Beach.   

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shout out to my mother in law who has always helped take care of my kids, be it picking them up from school or watching them while we’re at work. Without her help, balancing work and life would have been a lot more difficult.

Website: www.leila.com
Instagram: leilajewelry
Facebook: leilajewelry
Other: TikTok: leilajewelry

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