Lake Oswegan Leslie Akin, as Flower T. Clown, influences business brands, clown culture.
You can either blend in or stand out in life.
Leslie Akin of Lake Oswego is all about standing out and makes it her business to help others do the same. Through her business, Leslie the Brand Boss, she creates bold brands that carry a company’s message loud and clear to customers. And she does it with humor and joy and experience she has gathered over her lifetime.
Akin says she had ambitions to be a commercial artist when she was in high school, but life didn’t take her down that path. Her path went in a completely different direction: she became a professional clown.
“It was a great expressive outlet,” she says of her clowning experience. “It filled me and others with joy.”
She performed as Flower T. Clown (the T stands for the) from 1975 to the early 1990s, and twice entertained at The White House for Presidents Carter and Reagan.
“Clowning prepared me for the rest of my life,” she says. “I have no fear and I get to live out my passion.”
She kept building her clowning skills, learning as much as she could from other clowns as she toured. She performed regularly as a restaurant clown and built her skills to be recognized as a circus clown.
Editor, Cathy Gibbons presented an opportunity which changed Akin’s life when they asked her to write a column for Laugh Makers Magazine. Writing was not a talent Akin thought she possessed.
“Asking me to write for the publication turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of my life,” she says. “That’s where I gained my writing and editing skills. It changed my life.”
The fearlessness she gained from clowning lead to a career as an on-air talent at a jazz station in San Francisco. There she interviewed jazz greats, including Count Basie. Her artistic talent was recognized by the musicians; many asked her to design CD covers and even write liner notes for them.
Eventually Akin moved to Lake Oswego to work at a friend’s design agency; that business did not survive the recession of 2009, and Akin opened her own graphic design studio. She gained from the writing she did with the clown association, and published her book “A Fool’s Guide to Clowning” in November 2017. Her book is a treasure trove of practical routines and advice for both the serious magic clown hobbyist and professional. She is regarded as “uniquely qualified to bring together magic and clowning like few other people on the planet.”
“I was asked to teach two classes at Mid-Western Conference for Family Entertainers in Las Vegas because of my book being published,” Akin says. “I taught the Nitty Gritty of Birthday Parties and a Junior Joey class on bits of funny business and skits.”
In December 2017, she created a Facebook page for clowns from all around the world to share their experiences. She asked the group to share their most challenging experiences as a clown.
“Their stories were heartbreaking and heartwarming,” she says. “It occurred to me that this could be the start of a book.”
She asked clowns to share their most gratifying experiences, too. Those responses convinced her that a compelling book could be created. Global Touch Press put out a call for entries, and “Adventures in Clowning, The Best and Worst of the Best of Times” will be released this year.
The requests for Akin to share her clowning knowledge continue. In June she conducted a zoom presentation to a Clowns of America International Alley. “I spoke on restaurant clowning, how to get the gig and keep it,” she says.
She says she is very serious about her design business and wants to make it fun and strong. Her life has come full circle to becoming the designer she longed to be as a young woman.
“I’m living my dream,” she says. “I’m meant to be back in the clowning world, however corny or funny it is. And a groan is as good as a laugh.”
Learn more about Leslie online at http://LeslieTheBrandBoss.com or call 503-278-2677.