Wear the Pants / Leslie Bradshaw / Made by Many


Managing Partner @MadeByMany NYC. Loves lifting, building, data, words + science. 2x @Inc 500. @UChicago PBK grad. Terroir + family @BradshawPinot.

What's the best compliment you've ever received?

“You scare me, but in a good way.” —drama teacher, senior year at the University of Chicago

This was said to me after I turned in an at-scale model set (with full lighting) for my interpretation of “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, which also included a sketchbook of costumes I had done based on hours absorbing the costume gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago and actual pieces of jewelry I crafted to match. I classically over-delivered. It should also be noted that said drama teacher scared me (in a good way), with all of her mouth / voice exercises and interpretive dancing. Like whoa.

Tell us about your belief that STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY.

I grew up in the Kate-Moss-of-the-90s era. You know, when rail-thin was the “it” look. During this time, I watched close friends and my teammates struggle with trying to achieve what had become the cultural standard for what a woman’s body should be: SKINNY. Admittedly, some women are born that way, but most have to try every fad diet and extreme tactic to achieve this unrealistic standard.

Fast forward to 2015. While ghostly thin runway models haven’t gone away, Kate is back-and-better-than-ever, and some people are literally born that way, it honestly feels like there has been a shift in cultural expectations—and allowances—for female body standards.

Some factors for why there has been a paradigm shift could be some, all, or an interplay of a few things: (1) the relatively recent rise in pro-strength workout crazes like Cross Fit and PX90 for women; (2) the emergence of Instagram as a platform where women who are strong congregate, build followings, and share knowledge; (3) the return to whole foods and macro-focused diets (and away from the fat free / sugar free or fat / protein fads); (4) a number of men touting their preference for women who are fit and curvy over super-slender; (5) the media and fashion brands dipping their toes into non-skinny waters more and more; and (6) having buff icons like Michelle Obama and Jennifer Garner and curvy icons like Christina Hendricks and Kate Upton helping give girls more diversity in role models.

My final note on this: I believe that in order for women to achieve equal footing in male-dominated areas like STEM, wealth accumulation, and board rooms, we need to be at our very best mentally and physically. I wholeheartedly believe that a balanced diet and strength training are elemental for challenging incumbents and achieving at the highest levels. A foundation of strength is exuded in everything from your posture and presence to your handshake and comportment.

Teach us how to do something.

I want to teach more women to weight lift—especially strength-building, full-body moves like power cleans. 

Because I can’t be in the (weight) room with you, I can do four things to get you well on your way to lifting correctly (and heavy!):

  • SUGGESTED LIFTS. To get familiar with the lifts, you first must get familiar with the vernacular. A good starting point is to check out these Wikipedia entries: Powerlifting(link) and Olympic weightlifting(link) (power cleans(link) are 50 percent of the Olympic ‘clean and jerk’ lift; they are also my all-time favorite lift).

  • SELF TEACH. Speaking of my favorite lift, check out how it’s done via this instructional YouTube video power clean (link). Start light, even without any weight to get the motion down. Most gyms have 45lb barbells and smaller ones, too. For killer lifts that will really get your heart rate up and your physique cut, check out YouTube and Instagram under key terms: deadlift, Olympic lifting, and powerlifting.

  • BUDDY METHOD. Encourage you to get a lifting buddying—maybe a gal or guy that knows the ropes? someone at the gym you admire? a sports coach? And if you have the resources: A HELLA BUFF TRAINER.

  • WHY IT EVEN MATTERS. Weight lifting is a force multiplier to any positive thing you want or have in your life. However, a lot of women shy away from it. I have heard reasoning to do so range from “I don’t want to get all bulky” to “I tried it once, but I didn’t get results” to “I don’t know how to do it correctly.” Well ladies, I’ve included a few tools above, so let’s review a few myth-busting facts:

Fact: One pound of muscle takes up way less space than one pound of fat. It is one of the sure fire ways to drop inches. See: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/fat-vs-muscle.jpg (link)

Fact: Having more muscle and less fat looks noticeably different. From the way clothes fit you, to the way you look in a swimsuit, to the way your muscles are defined on key areas like arms and legs. Three words: Michelle Obama’s arms.

Fact: Having more muscle on your body will increase your basal metabolic rate. Basically, when you aren’t doing a whole lot, you will burn more with buffer muscles than without working them.

Fact: Weight lifting, combined with a super clean diet, lots of sleep, lots of water, and lots of consistency helped me lose 60 pounds in under three years. Here’s my story (link) and what I learned, for those interested.

What are you most proud of?

Living an intentional life rooted in being healthy, being a good person, and cultivating a tribe of special people. Not that I was too far afield, but it wasn’t until recently that I rewired what I was doing to no longer be overworked, undernourished, overextended, or compromised.

What are two items to do on your bucket list?

1 - Be a part of a leadership team that takes a company public or sells for a nice multiple. It’s less about the monetary gain and more about doing everything I love at the highest level: hiring and cultivating great people, nailing product-market fit, establishing the right processes and procedures, negotiation, stakeholder engagement, strategic communications, etc. I basically think of it like winning the gold medal in Business Olympics.

2 - Meet someone special that will support me as much as I will support him.   

Tell us a TMI moment.

I was dating a guy long distance a while back and because of temporary circumstances, we were relegated to snail mail. When I was home visiting, I got inspired to take some tastefully sexy photos and print them out using my mom’s computer. I took the photos from the printer and mailed them off, but because I had so many other things open on my mom’s desktop, I forgot to close out the print preview screen. Hours later, my mom asks me: “Are those photos for Mike*?” Horrified, I answered: “Yes.” She replied: “Oh.” And we haven’t spoken about it since (but imagine once I send her this blog post, we will have a good laugh about it). Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So embarrassing.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent.


FOLLOW LESLIE: Made By Many // bio // twitter // instagram
& buy the shorts here.

The Perfect Body

If you haven’t heard, Victoria’s Secret came out with the Perfect “Body” campaign in the UK a couple days ago. As an advertisement for their new “Body” bra,
VS has ten thin models with the words “The Perfect ‘Body’” overlaid on top of them.

As if women need a reminder of our society’s homogenous definition of beauty, the ad features ten models with almost identical body shapes. The creators of
the ad probably didn’t think twice about the message it is sending, and to us, it’s irresponsible marketing.


As an all-girl company making smart undies, we think we can do better.

Through this photo, we showcase women who are often neglected by the media and traditional retailers. We show the multitude of shapes perfect bodies
can take.  We
stand with the petition of Gabriella Kountourides, Laura Ferris, and Frances Black for Victoria’s Secret to apologize and amend the wording
on their
advertisements for the “Body” bra.

If you feel the same way, share below.


These ladies are more than just pretty faces. From left to right:

Christina Vuleta | Founder at 40:20 Vision
Tinuade Oyelowo | New York based performance artist, who tackles issues of social/political injustices within her work
Kate Gardiner | Digital strategy consultant working with clients across the United States on national and globalfacing audience development
Hayley Rynehart | Founder of The Rynehart Agency
Cindy Gallop | Founder/CEO, IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn
Mellie Davis | Editor of TheFatApple & Social Media Strategist
Quinne Myers | The one-woman-show behind the dreamy loungewear label, she and reverie
Shelly Ni | Chief Product Officer of Propel, a company improving the food stamp application process, and founder of The League of Ladies, a feminist superhero underwear line
Gaïa Orain | Gaïa is a Brooklyn-based design strategist for non-profits. The lady makes magic in the kitchen and is the co-designer of the League of Ladies
Arlene Chung | Medical Education Fellow and Attending Physician at Maimonides Medical Center

Photography by Brister Photo