CEO and Founder of Steve McLeary Productions, Steve McLeary.
Photo Credit: Zachary Ross
By: Andae-Andyliesha Ricketts
Those who are considered ‘privileged’ are normally those who bank on their family’s wealth to achieve success in life but 21-year-old Steve McLeary, who throughout his childhood was considered the ‘preppy kid with privilege,’ chose to build his own brand from the ground up.
McLeary hails from Southfield, St. Elizabeth where he grew up with both parents and is also the youngest of six siblings. He started his early education at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) Early Childhood Centre then El Instituto de Mandevilla and on to Spalding High School where he became an avid student leader- copping the head boy title in the 11th grade.
Throughout these years he was very reserved and was known as ‘the quiet kid in school.’ He also battled with social anxiety which started to cause minor issues in his family.
“Being in private schools amongst elites, it’s hard to shine. You always want to be the best and when you fail to do so it gets to you emotionally drained,” he explained.
Although McLeary still considers himself as reserved, he has grown to become more expressive, aggressive, and dominant when needed, which he says came with maturity and wisdom over the years. He shared that the transition to university was easy for him because he always had a mature mindset and was sure of what he wanted to do.
McLeary was accepted to attend Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts but decided to attend NCU instead because it was closer to home and he was only 17-years-old at the time.
He was initially enrolled in the music programme but eventually changed to Communication Studies.
McLeary says he always had a business and marketing mindset. He also had an eye for creativity, whether it be fashion, music, crafts or sports, from a young age. He decided that he wanted to combine all his interests and create a multifaceted business called Steve McLeary Productions, which he did in 2018/2019. He says he wanted to create a brand that represented him.
“So why not create a brand that tells a story of who I am, by offering my knowledge into practicality. My personal brand is what people should see when they look at me as I am developing more than one avenue to my work. Not only content but tangible items such as clothing line, bag line etc,” he explained.
Currently, Steve McLeary Productions offers personal content creations such as boudoir and fashion photography, all aspects of videography, creative directing for fashion and any other types of events and shoots as well as audio clean-ups and mixing. There are other offerings to be added but he said they are in the documentation process and should come to fruition in the next two years.
McLeary noted that he did not inform his parents of his business venture until COVID-19 struck.
“I wanted them to know and see for themselves that they didn’t have to give me an island for me to be successful. Love and support were enough,” he said.
McLeary shared that the biggest challenge he has had so far was people’s appreciation for content creators here in Jamaica. He says those who want the services expect to receive blissful content for cheap. Regardless of this challenge, he remains confident in his business becoming a huge success.
“I want Steve McLeary Productions to be one of the biggest personal ‘repping’ brands next to the likes of Polo Ralph Lauren [his favourite brand] if not bigger,” he shared.
When assessing all that he has achieved McLeary had words of wisdom he would have offered to his younger self as well as to those who were seeking to venture on a similar path like him.
“Knowledge is power, wisdom is powerful, but action is progress. Take opportunities and do not wait on the right time for anything. Be confident and creative. Your happiness guarantees progression. If you’re not happy you are not making progress.”