Fashionably Speaking: Jodi Leamon
Fort Wayne native Jodi Leamon’s lifelong passion for nature sent her to a variety of locales while she gained the experience and professional skills that landed her in the role of Sustainability Coordinator for the Allen County Department of Environmental Management. From time spent on both coasts then to a remote island in the Bahamas, she’s been attacked by barracuda, learned how to operate a chainsaw, became a SCUBA diver as well as a certified wildland firefighter. She graduated from UNC Wilmington with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences and earned a master’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago. “I graduated the same month that the Great Recession started, so I moved back to Fort Wayne and tended bar for a while when I couldn’t find a job. I met my husband Dustin and landed a job with Allen County helping people reduce their environmental footprint, so I have stayed ever since.” Leamon is also the local site director for a national nonprofit called Food Rescue US, a volunteer network that delivers excess food to charities that would otherwise be thrown away. She’s embarking on a new podcast venture with a friend about living a more environmentally conscientious life called, Material Girl Goes Green. Leamon lives in West Central with her husband and their cat, Nacho, “who is deeply in love with my husband despite the fact he is not the one who cleans her litter box or feeds her.”
What is your style philosophy? I try to keep it classic and basic so that I can wear pieces for a long time. I love very subtle 70’s touches and definitely have a boho affinity. I want to get to a point of having a few statement pieces and a few staples that can mostly be intermixed and versatile.
How does style relate to your profession? I struggle with looking “professional” because I like to be comfortable and feel like in my 40’s I am just now sort of learning how to balance that. Most people in the environmental field work outside and wear utilitarian clothing or a uniform, but I am mostly in an office now.
What is your go-to, no-fail ensemble? Leggings, a sweater and boots in the cooler seasons and a cotton dress the rest of the time. I love hot weather, so I prefer a tank dress and that’s it. If I can get away with wearing only a bathing suit all day that would be my happy place.
Any embarrassing or funny fashion/beauty mistakes you’d like to share? Sometimes I get paralyzed looking in my closet trying to decide what to wear and I end up looking like a hobo or a clown because I just grab something in a panic running late out the door. My husband is embarrassed by my harem style tank onesies – he calls them “bags” but I love them. I really fought the high waisted jeans coming back, but finally bought a pair of Levis (a very environmentally sustainable company).I love them.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Stopping by West Central Microcreamery and buying myself ice cream.
Where do you go for drinks with friends? Copper Spoon is my favorite for cocktails – usually a gin base with something herby and aromatic but not sweet. Nothing beats the patio at Henry’s in the summer because you get to see everyone from the neighborhood. We go to Junk Ditch a lot because it’s some of the best food in Fort Wayne, and love Hop River too. A nice dry rose outside anywhere is the best.
Which book changed your life? I read a book called Shark Lady in third grade about a marine biologist named Eugenie Clark and knew I wanted to study science and nature and help wildlife and the environment.
Coffee or tea? Regular brewed coffee from Conjure or Fortezza with a little Stevia and a splash of cream. I can’t stand homemade drip coffee but I don’t get into the fancy stuff either. A nice latte for a treat once in a while.
What’s your preferred method of physical fitness? I work out every day at lunch at Catalyst downtown. There is a class that is different every day so it’s never boring and I’ve made friends with other people who go regularly. I love spin class and barre too. I’m pretty useless on my own in the gym – I have to be in a class setting. I go to the gym alone and blank out on what to do. Love biking, hiking, walking, and canoeing outside, too.
Where do you shop for stylish goods locally? I go to thrift stores or Clothes Mentor because it’s important to me to give items a second life and invest in the circular (reuse) economy. I can find higher quality items than I could afford new that way, too. My friends also know to run all their clothes they no longer want by me before donating them. I’ve recently started getting better about picking pieces that are more versatile and really fit well instead of taking what I can find that’s “kind of” right for me. I’ll spend more on quality used clothing than I used to on cheap “fast fashion” stuff and it lasts longer and looks better. I also shop online for used clothing at ThredUp, and you can click an option to shop your local warehouse.
What is your number one fashion indulgence? Good shoes and sports bras. These things are foundations and will affect everything else!
What’s the one beauty item you can’t live without? Mascara. Even if I’m on the beach or on a road trip I will secretly use some waterproof mascara because I have stumpy tiny eyelashes and want to seem like I am naturally beautiful makeup-free.
As a child, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? I’ve always had some sort of scientific/environmental aspiration.
What’s the top item on your current bucket list? To hike a long-distance trail like the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail.
Your favorite vacation destination? Anywhere that is hot all day and warm all night with an ocean or other body of water to swim in. If I don’t have to wear shoes or a jacket, that’s ideal.
What’s one surprising item you currently have in your closet? Firefighting gear.
If you could give your younger self some style-related advice, what would it be? I feel like in the past I was either trying to cover something I didn’t like or fit into something that wasn’t me. I also used to just buy whatever was on clearance whether it really quite fit or not and ended up going through a lot of cheap stuff that didn’t look good.
Where do you love to shop for gifts? I try to give experiences like a show at the Embassy or Foellinger Theater, the zoo, park passes, museum visits, etc. There is so much to do here and it’s a nice way to spend time with someone as part of the gift. Local beers, wines, and liquors are also fun. I can always find something at the Fort Wayne Farmers Market like soaps, lotions, syrup, jellies, honey, or something else usable or edible. I recently learned about Farm Finds Candles – they are made locally out of environmentally friendly materials and poured into reused unique containers and they sell a “re-pour kit” so you can keep your candle going forever – waste free.