Leanne Wong: Elite gymnast by day, entrepreneur by night

Leanne Wong: Elite gymnast by day, entrepreneur by night

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Meet Leanne Wong!

Fans in San Jose can meet Leanne at the Inside Gymnastics booth (#1109) in the Congress Hall Saturday, August 26 from 1 – 1:30 p.m. PT. We hope to see you there!

Elite gymnast by day, entrepreneur by night  

By Ashlee Buhler

World class gymnast by day, CEO by night. Those are two of the many hats Leanne Wong wears these days. 

When she’s not captivating thousands of fans in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as a member of the Gators gymnastics team, or buried deep in the books tackling her pre-med coursework, Wong can be found heat pressing t-shirts in her college dorm and serving as the mastermind behind Leanne Wong Bowtique

Before it was a business it was a school project. In high school, Wong took a Fashion and Interior Design elective class that required her to design an outfit and then physically create one piece of the outfit. Wong chose a hair bow, a simple fashion piece that would soon change her life. “It’s easier than making shoes or something,” Wong joked as we sat down after podium training at the 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships. 

Her first bow was light pink and became a staple for her practice looks. Every day she would slip the bow around her bun before heading off to practice. However, if she wanted to match from head to toe each day, her leotard options were quite limited. 

“I was like, ‘What do I do if I don’t have light pink in my leo?’ Wong said. “So I was like, ‘Why don’t I make all different colors?’ So I started making them to match all my leotards for practice and competition. Ever since then I don’t think I’ve gone a day without a bow in my hair for practice or competition.” 

After the 2021 World Championships, where she won the All-Around silver and bronze on floor, Wong decided it was time to take her bows to the next level and launch her own business. During the break between the fall and winter semester, Wong sprung into action. 

“During that winter break I was like go go go, trying to get the website set up, get all the pictures of my bows and get all the colors I want,” Wong said. “I pretty much spent that whole winter break in December 2021 starting my business and now here I am!” 

Leanne Wong Bowtique has since grown into an apparel empire with t-shirts, shorts, signature leotards and bows all for sale on her website. Wong has sold over 10,000 bows, all of which are carefully handmade with the help of her mother. 

“Sometimes getting the color right will take up to an hour, so it will take a really long time to get things perfect,” Wong said, with a brief pause and a smile. “And I’m a perfectionist, so I want things to be as perfect as possible! 

A fan favorite item in Wong’s Bowtique, aside from her bows of course, was the Trinity x Leanne t-shirt she released in early July in honor of Trinity Thomas’ big announcement that she would be making a run for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The shirt was originally a birthday gift from Wong to Thomas, but after several requests from fans, Wong decided to sell the shirt. 

A self-taught entrepreneur, Wong has never taken a business class but continues to grow and learn as she navigates the still somewhat new territory where student-athletes can capitalize or profit off their name, image and likeness. 

“I had to go through the business stuff, contact the SEC to make sure I can use the logo and go through all the licensing, so it’s been a process learning about the business world but it’s been really fun,” Wong said. “I definitely have a great support staff at Florida and people I can reach out to and ask them quick questions and make sure I’m doing everything right.”

Even when a major competition is right around the corner, Wong’s business flow doesn’t slow. Just days before she departed for San Jose, Wong made 40 shirts using the press in her dorm and then shipped them to all her ambassadors. The grind doesn’t stop when you have such big dreams. 

Finding enough time in the day to chase her Olympic dream, study (Wong is interested in sports medicine and although her career path could go several ways, she has an interest in becoming a gymnastics team doctor someday), while also running a business comes down to time management. Then of course there’s the age-old adage that rings true for Wong: If you love what you do. You’ll never work a day in your life! 

“I almost think of my business as my down time and something I enjoy doing,” Wong said. “Some people enjoy watching TV shows but I just turn to my business in my free time after I’m done with gymnastics and school.”

What started as a school project has evolved into something so special, you often can’t attend a gymnastics meet these days without seeing Wong’s bows all over the competition floor. Not only does the back of Wong’s leo always showcase her logo, but her bow can be seen all around the arena in young girls’ hair. 

“It’s amazing!” Wong said. “I’m so honored to see so many girls looking up to me and wearing my products from Leanne Wong Bowtique. It’s just crazy because I was once that little girl looking up to these big gymnasts going to the World Championships and Olympics and competing for the country and now I’m in that position and I have all these little girls looking up to me, so it’s really cool.” 

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics 

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