“I’ve learned everything from scratch. I had no idea what I was doing when I started out,” says Leandra Medine, creator of the satirical style site Man Repeller. Today Medine’s name and her signature sense of style are synonymous with the New York fashion scene and her inimitable voice has cemented her status as one of the industry’s most formidable forces.
Medine launched Man Repeller as a junior college in 2010 at a time when blogging was still in its infancy and the term “influencer” had yet to be coined. She quickly generated a cult following by dispensing her daily fashion wisdom on “trends that women love and men hate” coupled with her irreverent social commentary. With an ethos that “an interest in fashion doesn’t minimize one’s intellect,” Medine emerged as a preeminent voice in an industry notoriously difficult to penetrate and long-dominated by legacy status.
“I really do believe that my opinion is worth being heard all the time,” laughs Medine, a lifelong New Yorker. “But I didn’t think Man Repeller was going to become my career until I realized that I had saved enough money and certainly had a smart and strategic enough business mind to start hiring other people. I thought to myself, ‘I have nothing to lose, so why not give it a try?’” she recalls. Medine’s instincts and unapologetic approach has continued to pay off. Coming of age during the “dawn of new media,” she admits it was easy to compare her website to its larger, flashier peers, but credits an unwavering trust in her vision and a resolve to remain entirely bootstrapped with keeping the business on course. “The reason we’ve been able to grow in this slow, steady, measured pace has been because we’ve never taken on any financing,” says Medine. “As a result, all of the goals and pressures that we’ve endured have been completely self-brought-on as motivators.”