Ashleigh Leon

Ashleigh is a people pleaser that recently did something for herself. It's called The Side Garage.

Describe who you were as a kid. From the moment I entered until about the age of 5, I was an ornery little daredevil. Anyone that knows me now, would call bullshit in a heartbeat. Sometime after the age of 5, I evolved into this quiet mini-mom-like perfectionist-realist.

Walk us through your journey to starting your own thing. Honestly, for the longest time, I didn’t know if I was cut out to start my own thing. I’m a people pleaser with a desire to be a part of something bigger than myself. Pair that with an introverted individual who is by far her toughest critic (note mini-mom-like perfectionist-realist in the previous response) - it took me awhile to get to a point where starting my own thing felt like something worth considering.

If I had to attribute the turning point to anything it would be that I started reading and taking myself to school more. A big influencer and inspiration to my story is Dale Partridge. His book “People Over Profit” totally shifted my perspective on owning and running a business. 

"I didn’t know if I was cut out to start my own thing."

Along the way, who and what helped you to keep pushing forward? I’m blessed to have had a lot of people in my corner. People who have positively affirmed my dreams and ideas as well as a solid group of people I know will tell me the hard stuff. The stuff I don’t usually want to hear — but know deep down in order to move forward, I really need to hear.

Affirming dreams is everything. Did Dale Partridge's journey with Sevenly have an impact on what you're doing now? If so, how? Totally. I've always been a t-shirt junkie. When I saw how Dale developed a platform to sell tees that gave something back to the community with minimal waste or overhead — that was pretty cool. 

However, I would say it was his experience and personal growth that came with his departure from Sevenly that inspired me the most. His book, "People Over Profit" totally transformed the way I thought a business could function at a high level. 

"Get involved and develop meaningful relationships with people in your community."

Someone is starting a project for the first time, what would you want to say to them? First and foremost, get involved and develop meaningful relationships with people in your community. Secondly, major on the majors and minor on the minors.Don’t allow yourself to get hung up on the most minute details. If the real meat of your project is there - get it out there. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to learn what you probably should have done differently. And you’re going to doubt yourself no matter how much planning you devote your time and energy to.

If this project is the thing that truly drives you right now — I mean like drives you to the point where it infiltrates 80% of your thoughts — then make it happen before fear and doubt take over and the drive that brought you here is depleted.

Talk to us about one of your good days this past week. I recently went home to spend time with family for a late Christmas. One morning, I was sitting at the kitchen counter working on some stuff when my niece asked me what I was doing. After explaining that one of my jobs is to maintain a website and my other job is making shirts and pretty pieces of paper - her eyes lit up, followed by “Ashy - I wanna do that too!” That was pretty cool.

“Ashy - I wanna do that too!”

And one of your not so good days. I’m notorious for saying “yes” when I should probably do myself, my time, my family and my body a favor by saying “no”. Anyone who knows what I’m talking about knows that something ultimately suffers at the hand of overcommitment and for me, leads to one of those “Oh my gosh, why do I suck at life so bad” days. Well… that happened this week.

On a positive note — I’ve been working on training myself how to re-focus when I come to that point of negative self talk and this week’s episode experienced ground-breaking recovery time. Cheers to growth in your 30’s.

What's keeping you busy? Well, I have a full-time job, fiance, friends and two dogs in addition to The Side Garage. That’s a recipe for a full and busy life.

Take us back to the day and describe the day The Side Garage was thought of. Honestly, it came about after a few false starts with a couple of other projects, a dash of discouragement, and a conversation over a couple of beers. Mobile printing and equipment rental isn't a new concept - it's just new to Des Moines. So, The Side Garage stemmed from wanting to find a way that we could help provide other creatives and makers with the same resources we have access to.

If you were given any spare time this coming weekend what would you want to do and why? I would get out of the city, cozy up in a cabin with Elena and the pups, read, play games, hike, drink whiskey and unplug.

"The East Village has my heart."

Tell us about one of your favorite outdoor trips in Iowa? About 3 years ago, I had the camping itch pretty bad. Even though the overnights were hitting the 30's, we packed up the car and dog and got out of the city. We ended up camping on a dry riverbed and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a legal spot to camp. Not to mention at times we thought the coyotes or the man with a headlamp were going to come bust up our little getaway. That quick little overnight stay, is by far the most memorable and enjoyable outdoor adventure trip I've had. I don't even think words could do justice to how beautiful and bright the moon was over that deserted riverbed or how peaceful he hazy foggy morning after was. I'd go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Someone just moved to the area. Where do they need to visit first? The East Village has my heart. There are so many incredible local businesses, good eats and beautiful sights down there. That’s definitely where I would send them. 

Who is someone you look up to and why? I can’t say it’s a singular person. I feel like I look up to a ton of different people. But, I guess if you’re going to make me choose, I would probably say Nana. She is possibly the most selfless, loving and non-judgemental human I know.

What are you most proud of and why? Oof, that’s a tough question. I guess when I really think about it, the thing that makes me swell and overflow with pride is my niece. Beyond being a rad kid, I have never seen someone her age who is more in tune with people and their feelings.

She deserves a design to made for her being such rad kid! Speaking of your design work, walk us through your design process. 

  • I typically roll through the web and gather up existing pieces as a reference point. When doing this for client work, I'll toss it into a mood-board to make sure I stay on task.
  • Layout sketching. Quick and dirty.
  • Go to to work. Depending on the style or needs of the project this could mean utilizing existing vector elements, manipulating photos or good-old-fashioned handy work.
  • Step away. I've learned that too often I spend WAY too much time with my projects and the ones that I'm able to step away from for a bit usually come out clearer and stronger.
  • Final review.
  • Revisions.
  • Project delivery.

Why Des Moines? Being a Texas native - I get asked this question A LOT. It really comes down to the people and the sense of community you feel - no matter what community you identify yourself with. I don’t think that doesn’t happen everywhere else.

If you could grant the Des Moines area one wish what would it be? That it’s people never lose the will and desire to keep creating, innovating and supporting one another .

"It really comes down to the people and the sense of community you feel."

In three months what do you hope to accomplish? Wedding planning = done, 5 Workshops / Collaboration Projects, Get to know 1-2 new people better than “Hey, I think we follow each other on Instagram?”

Derek Jensen