Another piece of the Jessi Leigh puzzle is that I teach. I LOVE to teach!!! I teach a class called ‘Glee’ to students aged 6-22 (split into different age groups of course!) and although primarily I teach singing and dancing, I like to think that below the surface, at the heart of what I do, I teach them how to be great people.
In an age where technology is un-escapable, I notice a great hole in the art of communication. In adults as well as children, we no longer pick up the phone to TALK to our friends and family, instead we TEXT. Now don’t get me wrong, texting is handy from time to time if you’re on the way home and need to check if we need milk, or want to send a quick I love you to someone special to let them know you are thinking of them, but as a primary form of communication, texting can be dangerous and also makes us lazy when it comes to human interaction.
I deal with all ages of children in many different aspects of my career, and it shocks and saddens me when a 17 year old young adult is not equipped with the skills to have a conversation with me about how they would like their hair cut. They grunt at their mothers from underneath their overgrown hair and expect mummy to speak to the scary hairdresser lady……….at 17!!!!!
The art of conversation is one that needs to be developed and nurtured from a young age, and in an age where the majority of our communication involves texts, pm’s, dm’s and emails, kids just aren’t learning how to TALK to one another.
In my classes, I teach CONFIDENCE. With confidence comes the ability to communicate, with communication comes HONESTY and with honesty comes a happy, healthy lifestyle.
Above a melodic singing voice, above great physical flexibility, perfect technique, or flashy acrobatic skills, my priority in my students is that they feel confident in their own skin. I strive to instil a feeling of pride within themselves in every class, and create an environment where students feel safe to ask questions, have conversation, not only with each other but with me.
This teaching gig is not just a one way street though……..I get just as much from them as they get from me. You see, a room full of 23, 6-12 year olds, don’t really care if you’ve had a bad day, nor should they, and I have found great strength in being able to put on a happy face in times of sadness in order to teach a great class. 45 minutes later, what seemed so devastating I couldn’t quite get out of bed, suddenly seems much less important when I am staring in the faces of 23 kids that have worked hard, sung their hearts out, and achieved new goals……more than that, feel proud of themselves and confident to take on new challenges.
I have SO MUCH LOVE for my students and what they have taught me about myself. I danced for most of my childhood and gave it away as an adult, for plenty of reasons, but mainly due to a dip in confidence…….through teaching them, I have rekindled my love affair with dance…….and the biggest thing I have learned, that I try to drill into them, is that to be a great performer, we don’t have to be THE BEST at EVERYTHING!! My weak spot was always elevation….I’m not a great jumper, which in turn meant a lot of the steps and turns and jumps that were focussed on when I danced, were really difficult for me……..BUT I was super flexible and animated and oozed personality when I danced, and these things are skills that other people struggle with…..we all have something DIFFERENT to be proud of, and I try to encourage my students to focus on the things they are GREAT at and not beat themselves up about the areas that still need work.
This method of teaching, has delivered me WONDERFUL results!!! I am met with determined, hardworking, excited students that are bursting with pride each week to show me the new hurdle they have overcome. Students that practice tirelessly outside of class in the playground at school, students that show up early for class every week to go over last week’s lesson, and students that stretch and practice every night at home to be able to increase their skills before their next class.
Although their ability to constantly improve their skills makes my heart sing, it’s their ability to approach me and SPEAK to me about what they have achieved that I am most thrilled with. Their lack of inhibition to TALK to me about how much they have practiced during the week, and eagerness to SHOW me their progress…….those are the moments when I know I’m doing my job!!
Have you ever had the feeling that you are doing EXACTLY what you were put on this Earth to do??
Well that’s how I feel about Pinup…………..I know that the whole ‘scene’ is super popular right now, and that’s great…..it keeps me in a job…….but once upon a time those obsessed with things from decades past, those that teamed red lipstick with false eyelashes IN PUBLIC, those that trawled op-shops for original glo-mesh clutches and nanna’s old girdles, were put on the FREAK shelf along with the Goth’s, emo’s and punks. Now we are awash with ‘Vintage Emporiums’ and ‘Retro Bazaars’, where you can pay through the nose for an old tea cup or save for a month to purchase a rotary telephone.
It hasn’t always been that way……… yet my love for the era from 1940 to 1969 has never wavered. I remember as a child, WISHING to dance in black and white movies, DREAMING of wearing red lipstick and fur, HOPING that one day I would grow up to be as glamorous as Judy Garland, as beautiful as Doris Day or as charming as Lucille Ball. I remember rather than reading magazines as a teenager, I much preferred to admire my grandmother’s old photo albums, meticulously studying the fashion, hairstyles and Make Up. I remember choosing the midday movie over cartoons, imagining myself as the leading lady opposite Gene Kelly or Elvis Presley. I would play my Grandfathers old Sammy Davis Jr records over and over, pretending I was one of his tap dancers, and put on shows in the lounge room to audiences of no one. My friends were not into such things, and I found myself struggle to fit in through my entire childhood and well into my teenage years.
For as long as I have been wearing Make Up (maybe 15 or 16 years old) I have worn black liquid winged eyeliner……ALWAYS. It was not in fashion then, and yet I saw it as the absolute image of beauty. People labelled me as ‘dramatic’ and ‘over the top’, yet I continued to do so…..it has just always felt RIGHT to me. As I grew older and into a career in Hair and Make Up, it was hard for me to comprehend that not everyone saw the beauty in vintage inspired styling, quite often I would have clients look at themselves in horror after I had transformed them into a Hollywood starlet of times past. It took me a long time to open my creative eyes to more modern styling and broaden my repertoire to include ‘now’ looks and stay in touch with the latest trends. I developed quite a reputation for myself and became a Hair and Make Up specialist…..I enjoyed it…….I wasn’t unhappy…..but it didn’t make me sparkle.
I have always known that Pinup existed……..I just had absolutely NO idea of how to get involved. Before the internet it was almost impossible to buy clothing unless you came across a gem in Vinnie’s, and for a girl that grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and never left, the world of pinup seemed forever out of my reach. For my 21st birthday, I decided I would have a girlfriend take photographs of me for my party invitations. I spent the morning setting my hair and applying my make up, and had her take head shots of me wrapped in a white feather boa……I had them printed in black and white and created an invitation to resemble an old playbill featuring me as the star attraction……..I guess that was my first ever Pinup shoot…….I had never had photos of myself that I liked...........but I LOVED these.
It was a LONG time between those first photographs, and me actually taking the step to become a ‘Pinup’…..almost 10 years!! But my infatuation for such things never calmed. I never really enjoyed shopping….I would spend hours dragging myself through store after store, looking for things that simply did not exist…….so I taught myself to sew…….now I would go shopping for fabric and create beautiful circle dresses……and THAT was when my issues with body image disappeared…..instead of feeling wrong for not fitting into the fashions that were available in stores, I felt BEAUTIFUL and for the first time the BEST version of ME I could be!!
People noticed the change in me and I guess it just sparked a chain reaction…….the more positive feedback I received the more confident I became in my own ‘look’ and I just ran with it!! I also discovered that there was a market for my skills in vintage styling……there were other women out there JUST LIKE ME……..maybe not committed to supporting the look on a daily basis, but certainly desiring to step back in time for a day in front of the camera, and they needed MY help……all those years of watching old movies and studying my Grandmothers photographs were about to pay off!! No one my age in my industry knew victory rolls or pompadours or marcel wave sets like I did…..and if they knew what they were hey CERTAINLY had no idea of how to achieve them, add to that the fact that I am also a Make Up artist that has a broader repertoire than a ‘smoky eye’ with a ‘nude lip’ and all the ingredients were there…….I HAD to find a way to make a career out of this!!
It was as if by magic, right around the time I had made the decision to really crack this market, I came across an add on Gumtree of all places, seeking models to pose pinup for a photographer that was trying to establish herself as a Pinup Photographer. At first I contacted her to offer her my services in the line of styling……without the right hair and Make Up, a Pinup shoot is not a Pinup shoot……..one thing led to another and I ended up modelling for her…….well that was it!! From then on I KNEW that this is what I NEEDED to be doing……for the next year I established myself as a Pinup model and grew my reputation for my skills in Vintage styling……….and all of THAT has lead me to THIS…………………..I am a self-employed vintage Hair and Make Up specialist, who owns her own full service Salon…………WHO WOULDDA BELIEVED IT!!!!!! I honestly believe that when you allow yourself to do whatever it is that truly makes you sparkle, the powers that be will allow everything to fall into place as it should……..There is not a single thing in the UNIVERSE that I can imagine enjoying more than this……unless of course I could co-star opposite Elvis with Anne Margaret???!!!!!!
Photo Credits: Photography - Derrierre by JLP, HMUA - Jessi Leigh's Hair and Make Up Artistry, Wardrobe - Handmade creations by yours truly!
Gosh what a question??!! The answer to which is constantly changing. Someone once said “to change is to grow, if we don’t grow, we are dead” but, I will answer this question as openly and honestly as I can for right now - when things change, I’ll let you know ;)
If you are reading this blog post, WELCOME!! It blows me away that anyone at all would be interested in my many ramblings…maybe they’re not? Maybe I’m writing to no one at all…the point is I’m writing, and I hope to learn as much about myself from these posts as anyone reading them.
You may have found yourself here in search of Jessi Leigh the rockstar…or Miss Jessi Leigh xx the pinup princess…maybe you’ve heard about Jessi Leigh the MUAH expert?? You may even know Miss Kiss Vintage cosmetics, haircare and accessories????? Regardless of what lead you here, you are in the right place!! ALL of the above are a little part of what makes me, ME, and I hope to inform, advise and educate anyone that is interested in shuffling through the many different things taking up space in my brain.
So…who am I?? I’m Jessi Leigh…no hyphen. Leigh is my middle name, Jessi is short for Jessica, Jessi Leigh is the name my mother affectionately gave me as a child, and as I pursued a love of performing, became my stage name.
I grew up in a coastal area of Victoria, Australia and still live there today. I love to live close to the beach, although I rarely go! I moved house A LOT as a child and as a result have a great desire to stay put for a while (although should the opportunity to move to the US present itself to me I would quickly re-consider that statement!)
I do lots of different things, for work I mean. So rather than ramble on about all of them in this post I’ve decided to dedicate a separate post to each facet of my career over the coming weeks. Pop back to find out about my Hair and Make Up business, my love of teaching children, my passion for singing, sewing, baking and anything that involves being creative. I’ll also talk about the newest addition to my world…modelling…starting with pinup and then venturing into fashion, and my thoughts on one of the biggest debates around…can one REALLY be happy and healthy at ANY size??
This blog is designed to present people with an alternative…whether it be an alternative opinion or an alternative way of doing things. We are at a time in history when things need to change…and people are always confronted by things they are not used to. When people are confronted, natural reaction is to be angered or frightened. The way to change this is to make sure the alternative is clearly visible, making it less taboo and easier for people to make INFORMED opinions rather than opinions based on narrow minded sheltered ways of thinking. In short, people consider normal to be things that they see and hear regularly - people are confronted by things that aren’t normal. In order to change opinions, people need to be presented with different options. To make things less confronting, make them more visible, in turn giving people more opportunity to make informed opinions.
So whether it’s styling tips, Hair and Make Up tutorials, reviews of clothing and underwear, recipies, secrets on where to buy bangin fashion for bigger broads or the inner most thoughts of a creative's mind…you will find it all here and more! Welcome to my crazy little world, I sincerely hope you get as much from reading as I do from writing <3