We had the good fortune of connecting with Silvi Leroux and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Silvi, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
Perseverance. One of the habits I learned early in life was to go after what I really wanted to achieve. My father encouraged me early on to work hard at the one thing I wanted to succeed at. Therefore, during my college years, I decided I wanted to study art in France. I worked three jobs during that last year in college and managed to save enough to do a year abroad at the Universite de La Sorbonne in Paris. There, I studied art history and began courses to learn to draw and paint. I learned so much more by being able to go to the amazing art museums that France offers. I learned their techniques, getting to paint right on the spots that famous artists like Monet, Renoir and many others had a chance to create world famous art pieces in Europe. Back in the United States, I realized that I wanted to keep working on my art, while leading a successful career in finance. Therefore, I worked for an international firm that sent me abroad often, giving me a chance to paint while I was abroad. Eventually, I travelled through 30 different countries and much of my art work today has been influenced by what I gathered during my travels.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Strangely enough, what led me to become a successful artist was pursuing a Master in Business Administration degree. I worked full-time during my 20s and pursuing an MBA at night time was not easy. However, I saw other work colleagues do it and I figured I could do it too. The MBA program encouraged me to think strategically and longer term. This allowed me to create art and start thinking of how I would eventually brand it, so that it could be a success later in life, when I decided to semi-retire. My first art show in Silicon Valley, was at the Fremont Art Association, where I volunteered hours at the gallery on weekends, so that I could start exhibiting some of my art pieces.
This gave me a flavor for creating art pieces that went together, for example marketing a theme vs. a single painting. I then began creating painted pottery, mirrors, boxes, and larger art pieces. I also began gathering dried flowers, seashells, and butterflies from places I visited around the world, creating mixed-media art. An edge that other painters didn’t have. I often hear people comment about how unique it is to have a seashell on their painting that came from the Mediterranean sea, although they have never been there.
I soon began holding small gatherings at home and exhibiting at local art fairs. The sales at the time were not huge, but it encouraged me to keep painting and producing. Today, I have a large collection, with a French touch, of landscape art, seascape art and portraits that many people are intrigued by.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in Orange County is an amazing experience. I often host friends at my home for the week and they love the variety that OC offers. My tour usually begins with Laguna Beach, where we get to stroll by the seaside, sometimes take a dip in the clear warm water of Aliso Creek beaches. We always make a stop at Le Moulin for some French pastries and coffee. We also visit the Victoria Beach Pirate Tower and always end with a gelato at Dolce Gelato. The next stop is the Los Rios park in San Juan Capistrano. We visit the Cottage Art Gallery, where I exhibit some of my art pieces, then have tea and delicious scones at the Los Rios Tea House. Then stroll through the SJC Mission and always end up buying some antiques at their antiques mall.
Balboa Island is always a hit, I often spend the day there with my guests, strolling through their board walk, having a glass of wine and appetizers at Ciao Restaurant. Then take the ferry over to the Newport peninsula and stroll or rent bikes around Newport Beach.
The Irvine Spectrum is always a hit, I never miss taking my guests for dinner at Habanas, where they serve delicious drinks and tapas. A ride in the Ferris Wheel there is always a must.
The last day, I often end their trip with the Shops at Mission Viejo, where we visit the LagunaArt gallery, where I feature my art pieces and finish the day with some savory crepes and coffee at Crepes de Paris.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Family has always been very important to me and I would have never accomplished what I have, if it would not have been for them. My father, who always encouraged me to work smarter, not harder. My mother, who supported me no matter how many bumps in the road I hit. My sisters who stood by me and supported me in decisions that they didn’t always agree with. My daughters who put up with all the turmoil over the years and have now become successful women themselves. I also teach my college students the importance of having a mentor. Someone you look up to and can follow in their footsteps. Growing up, my grandmothers had become my role models. They were both independent, lived largely on their own and managed to lead successful and happy lives.
During my high school years, my first IT professor and also a Commander in the Navy, became my role model. He pursued a naval career, became a professor, and pursued photography, all at the same time.
Throughout my career, our CIO at Kaiser Permanente became my next mentor. His leadership style and encouragement for us to become great leaders in the workplace, stayed with me and made me the successful business woman that I am today.
Emily J. Smith