Necessities: Leland Sutton
Leland Sutton, a master at side hustles and self starting work hops between New York City and Seattle. We see what he needs to get everything done for business and leisure.
Interview: Zayyar Win Thein
Photos: Sam Fu
Our Necessities series is for creatives and individuals to share what they carry everyday and why.
Tell us a little bit about yourself Leland, what do you do and where are you based?
Well hey, I’m Leland. I’m 25, originally from Seattle but I’ve been living in New York for the past four years. Professionally, I work in branding and marketing, most recently in blockchain.
I’m a huge purveyor of side hustles. I like to take photos, and I’ve actually been working on getting a few pieces of writing published, so stay tuned for those. Oh, also—my friend Mike and I actually just started a property management company called HomeKey.
Where are some of your favourite places to hang out in Seattle?
For the sake of my own organisational sanity, I’m going to break this down into categories.
I really like to eat, so I feel fortunate that Seattle is home to so many exceptional chefs and restaurants. Off rip, I’d say Glo’s for breakfast, Machiavelli for Italian (order the shells), Tsukushinbo for Japanese, JuneBaby for Southern, and Tilikum Place Cafe (just go).
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For shopping, Totokaelo is a favourite. Make sure to say hi to Elvia if you go. If you’re into sneakers, Likelihood is a no brainer; my man Bijan will take good care of you there.
As for café’s I usually get my oat milk latte from Kaladi Brothers. Elliott Bay Books is by far my favourite book store in Seattle, and has a nice little café in the back as well.
What was it like leaving your home in Seattle for New York City?
Most definitely a big change, more so mentally. Moving across the country on my own was as daunting as it was exciting, which was a large reason for doing it. Kind of felt like, a “put your money where your mouth is” moment in life. I’m so glad I did it.
What’s the best way to describe the differences between Seattle and NYC?
The two cities are quite different. Seattle is this ideal blend of urban and nature; a place where you can live and work in the city, but drive out an hour to some exceptional skiing. Life is a bit slower, but it’s a good place to breathe. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in such a green environment.
As for New York, well, there’s no place like New York. The pace, the people, the grind; it’s unparalleled. Relaxation is a forgotten concept, but in return the opportunities really are endless. The popular saying is, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, and, that’s facts.
I think both of us get along really well because we have such a similar mindset on business, fashion and on culture. I feel like you tend to look at how things happen vs. what’s happening. Were you always like this growing up?
I was definitely a curious kid. Overly analytical for sure, which is both a blessing and a curse. But I think it’s really important to understand things, and to maintain a healthy curiosity about the world around you.
Doing your due diligence is a great favour to yourself. Understanding the how and why is what adds the depth to things like fashion, design, music, everything really. I think one of the reasons why I really gravitated towards academics early on was because I got the opportunity to learn something new every day. So yeah, I guess that’s always been my mentality.
I know you’re interested in nearly everything - cars, watches, food, music, fashion, sports haha the list goes on… where would you like to end up in your dream scenario?
Dream scenario is to have my own company(ies); something that provides real utility to its users. I have a lot of interests, as you mentioned, and would like to pursue as many of them as I can to be quite honest. I’m talking everything from an agency that focuses on interaction & experience, to an auto-shop that restores old Porsches. I’d be lying if NBA courtside seats and a Fashion Grey GT3 weren’t somewhere in this dream scenario as well.
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For those similar to our age what's the best piece of advice you can give them to start something business orientated?
I think the most important thing to do is to sit down with yourself (or your potential partners), and to ask if you’re willing to make the sacrifices and changes necessary to take your business seriously.
From there, I prefer the agile/lean philosophies because they lend themselves to iteration and adaptation. Lots of people have good ideas. Fewer have the discipline to try, fail, learn, and try again. And again.
Finally, surround yourself with people of the same mindset, people that inspire you to do better. Start to work on projects with one another and develop your skills and interests. The growth potential is nearly infinite when you have the right minds in the same room. I think that’s a big reason why we’re friends.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would it be?
Right now, I’ve been keen on going to South America. I’ve spent so much time in big cities in the past few years, I’d love to end up somewhere like the Patagonia for a while, do a hard reset.
So we got you to pick out five products that are things you can’t live without, could you explain what each one is, where you got them from and what they mean to you personally?
1. Contax T2
My Dad was actually the one who got me into film photography while I was growing up. I got this just before the film craze happened that sent the price of through the roof. I won’t even tell you how cheap I got this, it’ll hurt too much.
2. Apple Macbook Pro
Access to infinite information, on-the-go. The thing that allows me to work wherever I want.
3. Nike Air Force Ones
Anyone who knows me knows this has been part of the daily uniform for years. In my opinion it’s the best shoe ever made, shout out to Bruce Kilgore.
4. Apple AirPods
Drowning out the noise of New York is important, especially on your commute. I’ve found myself listening to more podcasts than music lately. They’re a good way to continue to learn throughout the day, whatever you may happen to be interested in. For entrepreneurs, I’d recommend How I Built This, and The Hidden Brain.
5. SnowPeak Chopsticks
I picked these up a few years ago and they’re ridiculously useful. I’m Korean, so I’m probably biased, but chopsticks are the most versatile food utensil, no cap.
Interview: Zayyar Win Thein
Photos: Sam Fu