Kirsten Leo


What does your company do?

magine a runway where sketches transform into empires. That's the vision behind LEO SZN, a holistic creative consulting agency I founded, empowering local luxury fashion and beauty brands to conquer the world stage. LEO SZN is a creative consulting agency that takes a holistic approach to business and brand development in the fashion and beauty industry, immersing ourselves in a brand's essence and understanding its vision and aspirations. We implement business operations and strategy using techniques unique to the creative industry to streamline efficiency so that designers can focus on the creative aspect of their brand. With meticulous planning and strategic execution, we transform a brand's potential into tangible results. Our goal is to work with designers to develop local luxury fashion and beauty brands to help them grow, collaborate, connect, and to facilitate the wholesale and export of South African luxury goods to the rest of the world. 

What is your biggest success?

LEO SZN hosted a special dinner for the fashion industries' key players and innovators in honor of fashion week. This intimate industry gathering began with a specially curated menu by acclaimed chef Akido at his eponymous restaurant at The Leonardo and ended with enjoying the SA Fashion Week runway. Guests included stylist Julienne Mpoko, model & DJ Ponahalo Mojapelo, and Mozambique’s Shaazia Adam of MINA, a participant in the decade-long exchange program between SA Fashion Week and Mozambique Fashion Week. We are passionate about cultivating an environment where local luxury brands can not only flourish domestically, but also continue to captivate the international market,” says Leo. “By fostering connections and facilitating collaboration, we aim to propel these brands onto the global stage. The dinner and its news was featured in Africa Fashion Weekly and Previdar Online.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

AGOA's Fashion Insights report in 2023 cited that 90% of the businesses in the fashion and textile industry in Africa are SMMEs. As such, the challenges that SMMEs face in the fashion landscape are felt industry-wide. Many prospective clients with much talent cannot afford to take on consulting services that they desperately need to help their businesses grow and scale. This has impacted my business, however, we have explored avenues with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture as well as the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to subsidize workshops and showrooms targets to increase market-readiness and market-access for our emerging brands.