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Conversations with the Inspiring Leeanne Antonio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leeanne Antonio.

Leeanne, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have been fascinated with creativity my whole life. I tinker here and there with crafting. I can easily step in for things like producing, art directing and copywriting. But I also have the natural ability to connect subjects, things, ideas and people. As a kid, I was always an avid reader – I went to the library often, I asked my dad to build me a bookshelf, picked out contact paper to decorate it, created a fake library with notecards and a date stamp and then would make bookmarks and sell them in my neighborhood. I always knew I would never have a familiar career that my Filipino parents would understand, and that I wanted to be creative at work.

When I learned about marketing and advertising and understood you could connect creativity in business, I was sold. I got into SDSU and was happy they offered a communications major with an emphasis in advertising. I was fortunate enough to meet some great (successful) friends and have professors who let us watch Super Bowl commercials but also had experience at top-notch agencies with international brands.

I graduated in four years and then moved on to work in advertising, supporting brands in various consumer-facing and business to business sectors. Later, I did the elusive in-house marketing thing where I supported brands from a revenue or service perspective.

All of this experience made launching my own business and brand, called Bad Day Box, easier in many ways. I have an understanding and respect for process and what work goes into making something that sometimes can be 30 seconds or less. It also solidified for me that I really wanted to use my creativity for something that is my own.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road that led me to starting Bad Day Box stemmed from heartbreak. I had a couple challenging years in my personal and professional life – the fallout of what I thought was a very long term and committed relationship and the loss of a job which I thought was my dream job. It was a dark time, but I was fortunate enough to have so many people show up for me. At a time when there was definitely “no card for this,” they found ways to express love and remind me to eat, sleep and be kind to myself. One of my friends flew me across the country the next day, another friend took me on an ice climbing adventure paid for on all her points. I received sleeping aids, a snack box, a massage and a place to stay.

Gratitude is such a fundamental part of being human and I think when you can recognize it, acknowledge it and pay it forward, the world is truly a better place because of it. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have friends who would stay on the phone with me when it’s 3 am their time or let me drink all of their wine or borrow their car to clear my head when I was visiting. I will forever be grateful for the ways they showed up for me. All of this would later lead to my inspiration for Bad Day Box.

When you’re first starting out in your career or launching a business, it can feel overwhelming. Understanding where you have room to learn and seeking those who have experience is vital. Many people will feel put off by the idea of asking for help. But when it feels like you’re the only one going through a professional rut, chances are, someone else has been there too and might be willing to lend an ear or helping hand, and if they can’t, that’s ok. It’s still ok to ask, but make sure to figure out a way to make it worth their while too, because even time is not free.

In my journey with Bad Day Box, I’ve found ways to collaborate with and learn from a couple of different brands who have also been featured in SD Voyager and Voyage LA. I am lucky to live in a world where so many people I know are incredibly talented. I want to acknowledge their skills, give them credit and be able to work with them in meaningful ways. There is a lot to say about the company you keep. Pay attention to who you surround yourself with. Are they doing great things? How do they speak about themselves? How do you speak of them? Can you learn from them? Can you put aside your ego and take notes?

What should we know about Bad Day Box? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I designed Bad Day Box as a way to package up the empathy shown to me when I hit bumps in the road so that others could easily send and receive self-care when they need it the most. I looked around and saw friends going through health issues, grieving deaths, struggling with heartbreak. I realized that we all have bad days sometimes, and there is not always a card or a gift that feels right. There are times when we don’t know what to say, but we still want to show that we care. The traditional flowers, plants or edible arrangements can feel generic.

People who know me know I love snail mail. I’ve had a long love affair with it since I was very young and knew it had to be part of the Bad Day Box brand. My dad was in the Philippines when I was born and didn’t immigrate to the US until I was four. During that time, he would write letters to my mom and me and send us mixtapes. I still have my mom’s Hello Kitty letter opener.

In another memory, I remember helping my grandma press a grain of rice and smash it onto a stamp she was able to salvage from another piece of mail. She sent a lot of mail back to the Philippines and I loved seeing the airmail envelopes she stashed underneath the bed. Because I have always loved snail mail and gift-giving, I understand how the simple act of receiving mail can bring happiness. So I thought, what if I created modern care packages that can help people give more thoughtful gifts?

I have learned that self-care is personal and can come in many forms. When people are going through hard times, they might find comfort in staying at home and focusing on wellness, or being distracted by traveling, getting outside, or trying something new. Bad Day boxes are themed to inspire creativity, adventure and healing. Inside are gifts personally curated with self-care and better days in mind for both men and women, featuring handmade, small-batch, women-owned, eco-friendly and charitable products. These makers and small business owners are adding creativity and value to the community and I’m so excited to collaborate with them.

I want this brand to promote wellness and healing and remind people that we can get through bad days and turn them into good days together. I will be launching my Kickstarter shortly to cover startup costs so I can continue to scale. I have some great incentives promoting wellness and healing and some pretty exciting exclusives and experiences for my San Diego funders. Follow Bad Day Box on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and sign up for the newsletter, please and thank you!

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
The most important thing I can tell a young woman starting her career or starting her own business is: there is room at the table for you. There are plenty of brands who are killing it in the gift-giving world, but not many who positioned it the way I have. There will always be someone who has more financial wherewithal than you, who is more educated than you or has more direct experience than you. It’s truly up to you to believe in yourself and realize what you bring to the table.

Loving yourself can be hard but it’s an important base for success and only you as an individual can define success. It has always been important to me to produce work that is creative, meaningful and makes a positive impact on the world. I see Bad Day Box as that opportunity, and it would be irresponsible of me not to explore it.

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 Image Credit:
Bad Day Box

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