A Parallel Career
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that Leah Forsyth-Steel met her husband, Nick Steel, at HarrimanSteel. Working together as a couple can be tricky – does she have any tips for those in a similar situation? The office didn't pose too much of a problem, she says, as the agency staff respect them as individuals.
"It's more of a challenge when office hours end. It's normal to talk about your day over a glass of wine, but what happens when you work at the same place? You start problem-solving at home – and then what you're actually doing over dinner is working. So my advice would be to set boundaries together. You have to draw a line in the sand: after a certain time of night, you don't talk about work."
Leah actually made a bet about this with Nick. He lost – Leah now has a Labradoodle.
These days "home" is London again – the couple moved back there at the end of 2019 for the birth of their little girl. "Of course we had no idea what was going to happen next. But in fact we'd already been exploring remote working as an agency, because Nick's business partner Julian [Harriman-Dickinson] was still based in London."
As well as being busy with agency and family, Leah has a parallel career as co-owner – with set designer Victoria Spicer, a fellow Kiwi – of Monument Store
, an e-commerce boutique that sells lovingly hand-picked furniture, art and design pieces.
"The partnership with Victoria is amazing because we have a shared passion for interior design and decoration. I grew up in a family of collectors, which is why a museum environment really spoke to me. I see purchases as acquisitions, additions to a personal collection that you curate to express yourself...We believe there are enough beautiful design, art and objects out there – and unfortunately there's a lot of 'fast' homeware. This is about collecting things we love, things that have a certain permanence and gravitas. Hence the name."
Running two businesses is a challenge, she admits. "But one of the interesting things is being able to apply all the things I've learned at HarrimanSteel to my own business, in terms of brand building, storytelling and the consumer journey. And so far so good!"