Leila: a career in creativity

LeKa London founder and creative director, Leila Karalic describes the personal and career journey that led to the launch of the creative collective

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel the urge to be creative. As a child, I was always intrigued by shape, form, colour and texture. Born and raised in a tiny seaside town on the Swedish south coast, I announced to my family at the age of three that I wanted to be a hairdresser. And that fascination has not changed after more than 20 years in the industry.

I’ve always been captivated about everything to do with hair. Even when young, I wanted to know how it behaved, could be transformed or altered and how a variation in style reflected – or didn’t – people’s personalities. My dolls became my earliest styling models, as did those of my friends and I’d persuade family and friends to sit for me while I experimented with techniques.

I followed my mother to the salon each time she had her hair cut. I was awestruck at how her hairdresser – an award-winning stylist who was in the Nordic national team – combined both precision and artistic flair. Recognising my passion, she offered me a Saturday job at the age of 13. The mixture of pride, excitement, happiness and determination to learn I felt that day is as fresh now as it was then. My mentor taught me everything she knew and, alongside the weekend job, I’d go into every day after school, staying on throughout secondary school.

After this, I successfully applied for a four-year diploma at the oldest school of hairdressing and beauty in Europe. It was at this prestigious college in Copenhagen that I studied hair inside out, from the history and chemistry of hair to wig making, cutting, colouring, styling and perming. While training, I was offered the chance to of a work placement at what was then Copenhagen’s most cutting edge salon.

At 20, I moved to London after my diploma, driven by an ambition to develop my craft, knowing that the city was home to some of Europe’s best stylists and technicians. Working in some of London’s most innovative salons, I quickly built up the strong and loyal client base I have today. As a sought-after master stylist, my clients include some of the most inspiring names in the fashion, film, TV and music industries. My experience ranges from editorial and runway styling, annual fashion weeks in London, Paris and Milan, as well commercial and film work and teaching and art directing hair/fashion collections.

The story of LeKa lies in these experiences, and in my ongoing desire to learn from and share my time with like-minded creatives. LeKa was born from a need to keep my finger on the pulse and to nourish my appetite for development and knowledge. I feel privileged that over the last 20+ years I have evolved to be part of a dynamic and inspiring circle of people – friends and clients – from all walks of life. Like me, they believe firmly in the importance of aligning mind, body and soul. So I also want to share these creative connections and the potential for self-realization that they have helped me discover.

LeKa is a way of growing this vibrant network, and creating a new way of life and work. It is an exclusive space curating bespoke experiences based on each person’s wants and needs, as well the opportunity to interact with others. With such eclectic collaborators, LeKa enables you to grow your awareness, absorb new skills, feel rejuvenated – or simply to explore a spirited, playful environment where you are free to express your inner child.

I strongly believe that every day should bring new invitations to discover and learn – and that life is an opportunity to connect, grow and enjoy. And that is the aim I want to share through LeKa.


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