Leah Tanner was one of four designers who won MSC’s #Design4HerEducation contest. The contest was in collaboration with WomenOne, and the sales of the designs will benefit this non-profit in their mission to create positive change in the lives of women and girls globally through access to quality education. Leah’s design was selected by our incredible panel of judges: Christy Turlington, Dayle Haddon, Desiree Gruber, Anne Fulenwider, Kelly Rutherford, Erin Flaherty and Catherine Malandrino. Leah is a creative and cool student at the University of Guelph near Toronto Canada. She is also a world traveler who was just in Cambodia and is now exploring Australia and soon to be France!

What inspired you to participate in this contest?

Almost three years ago now, I stumbled across one of MSC design contests, and being the eager high school student that I was (with a dream of breaking into the competitive design industry), I created/submitted a design without hesitation. Luckily my design was well received and ever since I have been representing the MSC brand.

In terms of the #DesignForHerEducation contest specifically, I was initially helping with the advertising and reach of the contest, and it never actually occurred to me to submit a design myself until the final weeks – but wow I’m so incredibly glad that I did.

I also took a fashion design course at Marist College a few years back, which helped me develop design skills that aided me with my MSC design! 

What does this contest mean to you and what inspired your design?

To me education is everything. It empowers insight, knowledge, strength, individuality and more. I believe the importance of education is immeasurable. Without it, I cannot even imagine where I would be or who I would have become. Having the opportunity to participate in something that empowers other women through education was nothing short of an honor.

I wanted my design to showcase the essence of this design contest, but more importantly the movement behind it – supporting global education for girls. In my design, I used schoolbook lines with handwriting because for me that is one of the most classic representations of learning and literacy. From there, I also incorporated a silhouette of the world in the background, as it represents the global aspect of this movement. Together, these two elements combine to symbolize how education can truly change the entire world.

Tell us about your travels and the way they shaped your outlook?

From a young age I moved around a fair bit, so traveling is somewhat natural to me. I’ve been across Canada and the United States, France three times (I lived here for a month with a host family whilst learning French), Italy twice, England twice, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Australia, Greece and Cambodia. In all honestly I feel uneasy staying in one place too long, but I think that’s a great thing. When you’re surrounded by new people in a new environment, you can discover yourself and grow as an individual. I truly believe that you gain invaluable experiences when being in a different place and culture – not to mention you learn life lessons that could never be taught in a classroom.

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to some incredible places, and every time I go somewhere new it never fails to excite me and teach me more than I could have ever anticipated. Most recently I traveled to Cambodia, Australia and then finally France. This was my first trip to Asia and it was life changing to say the least. For the first half of my trip I stayed with a Buddhist monk and helped construct a medical facility in his rural village. From there I taught English in the city to third grade students, which put this entire contest into perspective. I saw first hand how important and impactful education is, and I was honored to have been a small part of that.  

What goals do you hope to achieve when designing a life and career you love?

I have always had an affinity for art and design but as I grew older I also developed a deep interest for business. As a result, I chose to study marketing at my university, which seamlessly combines my interest of art with the practical aspects of business.

In terms of a career, I can only hope that one day I’ll have the opportunity to help with the marketing, advertising or social media/brand managing of an ethically and socially responsible company – that’s the dream! But if I’m lucky enough to wake up each morning feeling inspired to go into work, regardless of the job, I’ll be happy. Happiness is ultimately what I aspire to have and create.


Hobby? Skiing. From the moment I could stand on my own two feet, my parents had me strapped to skis going down a mountain. It’s been a massive part of my life and I couldn’t imagine who I would be without it. But I also love baking new yummy treats, trying new cafes, traveling, doing yoga, cuddling endlessly with my doggie and going on Pinterest for a shameful amount of time (who doesn’t love that?)

Favorite summer anthem or artists? Ahh, this is easily the hardest question yet. I’m a sucker for any good alternative or indie-folk music. If I had to choose, I would highly recommend Ben Howard, Lord Huron, Hozier, Matt Corby, Milky Chance, Alt-J, Chet Faker and Vance Joy… just to name a few.

Latest books you’ve read? I just finished Into Thin Air and Into The Wild, which were both interestingly thought provoking.

Summer beauty tip? Less is more.

Ideal afternoon? Exploring a new city (and eating my way through it obvi)

Summer fashion tip? Keep it simple. You can never go wrong with denim cutoffs and a baggy white tee.

Favorite vacation spot? For me it really depends on who I’m with! I think people make the biggest difference. Anywhere can be a blast with the right people.

Dream place to go? I would love to one day see Lithuania since my grandmother was from there; however Peru, Berlin, India and Amsterdam are also at the top of my ‘must-go’ list.