Leah Melby Clinton
Writer & Founder, In Kind Magazine

Faced with an hour to yourself (perhaps a problem you don’t often have), what do you do with free time?

As someone who’s got a side hustle going on, any free time I have to myself typically goes toward that. Between my day job and working around a nap schedule, I’ve found I have to be quite disciplined to make free time that I can use. There’s always something that can be done with In Kind, but it never really feels like work since I enjoy it. With our spring/summer issue going out now, my free time is about to be consumed with prepping for fall/winter. I’ll spend a lot of time ideating with my partner, Hannah, and then getting the ball rolling on content, interviewing amazing women and then shaping our conversations into articles (and I love doing that in the morning before the baby wakes up, sitting at my kitchen island in a cashmere robe and drinking coffee). Beyond the editing, there are all the other tasks that make a magazine a magazine: social, partnerships, thinking about future ways to engage with our community.

What is the thing you bought in the last three months that you have most enjoyed?

I’m cheating and giving you two, but they’re different! I treated myself to another phone case from The Daily Edited recently and just can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m one of those people who loves a good phone case and can never quite understand why people balk at the idea of spending a little more—we use our phones every single day. Otherwise, the thing I “bought” and value the most are career coaching sessions with the amazing Marcella Kelson. I think a year or so ago I never would have thought I’d benefit from coaching sessions: I’m driven and have always known what I want to do. What exactly do I need help with? (How silly that sounds!) But after deciding to do an introductory chat with her, I truly can’t imagine not having invested in this type of work/myself. Our sessions are something I always look forward to and feel energized and inspired by. I’m never getting rid of the notebook I scribble in while we’re chatting—it’s filled with too much good stuff on different ways to think about things or examine how I’m thinking about my career.

What’s the last song you listened to?

“Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel. We’re big dancers in this household and I have a few playlists geared around my daughter. There’s “Allegra breakfast” which is Disney or showtunes; “Allegra” which is Shakira, Justin Bieber—stuff with a beat that’s fun to dance too; and “Allegra civilized” which is dance music that doesn’t feel too insane if you want to listen to it while you’re cooking dinner or my in-laws are over. “Cecilia” was an addition to that playlist.Did you learn anything new in the last 12 months that has surprised you?

That I have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’d tell someone how I just couldn’t imagine starting a business or running my own company or wanting to work on my own: I’m a company girl. Give me a wheel, and I’ll be the cog. Then, when the ‘zine I started during quarantine as a little hobby started to grow and breath and attract some attention, I realized I had something on my hands that deserved attention and focus and, shocker, I was turning an entrepreneurial eye to it. In learning that about myself, I also learned that saying someone is “an entrepreneur” doesn’t mean one single thing. There are all different versions of business-owners and founders, and you don’t have to be type A or loud; you can be quiet and thoughtful and still create something that matters.

What is the best parental shortcut you have learned as a mother? Something that makes life easier, more sane, or more fun?

To find good help and then step away. If you trust the people who are helping you with your child, who are part of your village, you should be free enough to let them drive the ship the way they want to when they’re in charge. Like so many people, we’ve cobbled together a team: My mother- and father-in-law come during the week and our wonderful nanny is here a couple days. I’m not a micromanager by nature, but I could see the temptation to lay out a plan or instruct them on how things need to be done. By relaxing and allowing them to own the responsibility of care for the hours they’re with her, I’ve found life, mothering and working, is just easier.

2020 has dealt us all with lots of challenges - what was a low moment in 2020 and how did you overcome or face it?

Rather than one moment, my hardest challenge spanned across the year. I had my daughter in November of 2019, so most of her early months were spent more confined than they might normally have been. Infants change so quickly and throw you curveballs constantly, so while I have no way of knowing what the experience might have been like in a “normal” world, I imagine it would have been punctuated with more emotional and mental support. We never attempted play groups or classes or hang-out sessions with other friends who had young children: It was me and her a lot, and all the self-doubt that accompanies motherhood didn’t have as many outlets to be soothed. Was I doing my baby a disservice by not letting her play with other kids? Maybe? But even if the answer was yes, it was what it was—our safety and health had to take a priority. I faced that slow-burn challenge by indulging my inclination toward emotional honesty, not trying to bandage over things if I was frustrated or sad or, honestly, annoyed by my baby. Whether a phone call with best friends or the captions I shared on Instagram, I found such a wonderful relief and community in hearing that other people felt some of the same things that hit me. Instead of being able to hear that my feelings or thoughts were normal over chit-chat at a playdate, I heard it in DMs.What are you most looking forward to in a post-vaccine world? What bar, restaurant, or place are you most eager to visit?

As somewhat of a homebody, I haven’t found myself missing going out to places—it’s 100 percent the people for me. I’m most eager to not have to think about the risk of getting on a plane, of being able to see my grandparents and family without worry. My best, closest girlfriends are all spread around the country and to be able to plan a trip with them will feel like heaven. I don’t even care where so long as we’re all together and can do the sort of relaxed hanging out we used to do without even thinking about it.

Do you believe in setting personal goals? If so, how do you hold yourself accountable to them?

I don’t not believe in them, but I just don’t really do it—perhaps I’m not type A enough of a personality. I do more of a micro and macro approach. I’m a big to-do list person and it’s how I keep myself organized on a day-to-day basis. Every year I splurge on a page-per-day Smythson planner. The minute I put it in my cart I feel mildly insane for sixty seconds—what a ridiculous thing to spend money on, right?—but then I always remind myself that it’s an accessory I’ll use every single day for the entire year, and it really makes me happy every time I use it. Things go on the day they need to happen and are highlighted when completed. On a macro level, I really treasure my vision notebook. Bigger than a single board, it’s a scrapbook-type situation where I put images that resonate with me. When I’ve looked back at my most recent one in the past few months, it’s been fascinating to see how the images I’d taped in are coming to fruition, even if in different ways than what I would have thought.

How important is community to you, and how do you go about building and nurturing it for your family?

In the work I do, especially with what we’re building at In Kind, community is everything. To me, community means a safe space where you feel as if you belong; a group of like-minded individuals who won’t come to you with judgement, but an openness and kindness. It’s a place where you give and take in equal measure. When it comes to our family, it means really thinking about the life we want to build and what changes we can implement to achieve them. With work moving to a place of perma-remote, we’ve decided to move to my home state of Florida to be near my sister and family. I want my daughter to grow up knowing her cousins and aunts and uncles as they’re the ultimate community. People you could call on and know they’d be there without question.Shop Leah's Look: Boho Tie Dress