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Conversations with the Inspiring Leah Willis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Willis.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Leah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After the 2017 Women’s March, my best friends and I sat on the living room floor, dirty, sweaty, and elated as we relived what we witnessed and the emotions that rose up from the morning. As we processed the event, we talked about what it means to be a woman, and what our decisions will mean for our daughters and their daughters. I had felt so encouraged being surrounded by these passionate women all seeking a better world but maybe more than ever, we face an uncertain future and as the next generation of women, we have an agency to build something durable and good.

Many of my friends grew up in the Christian faith, and many of us still follow Jesus. As girls and then later women in the church, we often felt restricted in what we could discuss, bound by what was deemed appropriate or “ladylike.” Yet, the most nourishing conversations in my life have arrived in the middle of vulnerability and risk, among friends, I trust enough to let my real insides show, we found shining a light on those hidden places makes the darkness shrink away.

Our hope was to create an online collection for women to share their stories and for others to find peace and comfort in them. So, over the course of a year, our team worked together to collect different essays, poems, and art ranging across a broad spectrum of topics and then craft and curate them in a visual way. We wanted to create space for all women to find a safe place and to know that whatever they are facing they aren’t alone in it, and that others have been there too.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest obstacle for me was taking the vision that I had created and was passionate about in my head and make it concrete. I knew what I wanted to do I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. Luckily for me, I am surrounded by an amazing community of talented women, all with different strengths. I shared my vision with two of my best friends who then became my partners in this project, Annelise Jolley who serves as the editor and story curator, and Stephanie Norbeck who serves as the web designer and graphics. These two insanely gifted women who are experts in their trade helped me take ideas that were moving a mile a minute and craft them in the most beautiful way.

Another struggle was combating the doubt that crept in, the fear and insecurities of how will this be received? will people read it? Will the message come across the way we want it to? Will women contribute or will it flop? The enemy has a sneaky way of tearing you down when you are trying to build something strong and good.

My advice for women is to find your tribe, surrounded yourself with encouraging people who stand beside you, and don’t be afraid to share what you are going through with someone you trust, you don’t have to do it alone, you are stronger, smarter, and braver than you think.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Our Daughters’ Daughters story. Tell us more about the business.
Creating this collection for me was about combining my passions into one, design and writing. I went to school for Editorial Graphic Design and have been working full time as a graphic designer in the industry. However, I wasn’t getting the fill I needed from design alone, I needed more and an outlet to express myself in a different way. I knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of women, even in the smallest of ways and this collection was the start.

I’m proud of our raw honesty and ability to share the stories of so many amazing women, so often we get caught up in the “Instagram” lives, the natural jealousy that comes when we are scrolling through our feed and think “I want to look like that” or ” I wish I had that.” Our Daughters’ Daughters is about vulnerability and speaking truth, so instead of feeling that sting of jealousy, our hope is that our readers find peace. Our goal was for women to come to this space and breath easier, saying to themselves

“I’m not alone in this” or ” Oh, my gosh, me too.” For us, it is all about encouraging conversation and building community.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I feel like one of the biggest barriers for women in business is being taken seriously and understood. So often, we are told we can’t do it all or have it all, that we have to choose between different worlds and pick only one, but I think we can do it all, women are smart, capable, and strong and when given the opportunity, we rise.

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Image Credit:

Emily Poole

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