We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Leingang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It started from a place of service and connection, volunteering to help friends launch and build websites for their own businesses.
I built my first site in an evening and learned the basics of CSS in a weekend. It just clicked for me. I loved it. I found a creative “zone” that I never had before, where I lost time and everything else disappeared. My creative and intuitive side collided with my technical and business consulting background, and it was all over. I just kept learning and practicing from there and followed that gut instinct of “yes…this is it”.
I deeply understood the frustration and overwhelm that came with trying to learn a new technology in addition to staying on top of your own craft. I saw competent and ambitious small business owners who were embarrassed to give out their website and promote themselves because they didn’t feel like it represented them well. They wanted to DIY it but kept putting it off, or they wanted to hire a professional, but were intimidated by the whole process and didn’t know where to turn for help. I wanted to empower them and give them the confidence to go to market with their brands in a way they could be proud of. I wanted to de-mystify the process of building a website and establishing a brand. I wanted to meet them where they were at, and show them what was possible with the right tools and strategy.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m most proud of my ability to show up as my full, authentic, wholly imperfect self. That wasn’t always easy, and still isn’t. Developing professional skills takes PRACTICE, but it takes WORK to develop a tolerance for discomfort and imperfection. That’s such a critically important trait, both when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, and when you become more established as a leader. You have to practice self-compassion and model that behavior to those around you. You have to expect that you’re going to fail and make mistakes, but then trust that you’ll learn from those mis-steps and become better as a result of them. You have to show up even when you’re not perfect, and even when you’re scared.
I’m here today because I’ve failed. A lot. I’m here because I’ve made mistakes and had to sit with some really uncomfortable truths. But those failures and mistakes are what bring about radical change, resilience, deep connection with the people around you. Because of those mistakes, you have better, more honest conversations with clients around their goals, dreams and fears. You’re able to give and receive challenging feedback and handle uncomfortable situations with grace. Our clients have dedicated their whole lives to running their businesses and deserve nothing less than honesty from people who genuinely see them and care about their well being.
The expectation that running a business should come with ease really sets a lot of people up for disappointment. They run into their first failures or rough times and are so quick to think “nope this isn’t for me” or “I must suck at this”. Hell no. You’re not doing anything wrong, this shit is just challenging. Failure means you’re trying. Mistakes mean you’re learning. Keep going. Give yourself room to be wrong and give yourself room to grow. Entrepreneurship teaches you the most important lessons you never wanted to learn. You have to stick with it.
That’s honestly why I’m so optimistic and excited for what’s ahead. I can’t promise I won’t make mistakes but I can promise I’ll own them and learn from them. I can’t promise a smooth road ahead, but I can promise the fear of inevitable potholes won’t cause me to take my foot off the gas.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The beauty of Portland really lies in the geography and surrounding areas.
For a day in the city, I’d definitely start with a great little hike, either at Washington Park or Cooper Mountain Nature Park (a personal favorite). For a post-exercise meal, Pine State Biscuits is where it’s at. Get ‘The Reggie’. I don’t care how ‘basic’ that is of me or how long the line is. It’s worth it and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
There are no shortages of great food and drink spots in the city, though. Asking me to pick one or two is cruel. Double Mountain, 10 Barrell, Deschutes, Ecliptic, Breakside & Rogue all have breweries here, and that’s just naming the big ones. There are amazing microbreweries and tap houses everywhere. Pick a neighborhood and just start bar/restaurant hopping. We live just blocks from an incredible tap house – Room 122 (sup, Andy!).
I’d also insist on hitting up a Blazers or Timbers game. We have a phenomenal fan base and the atmosphere is not to be missed.
Then, get out of the city for a day and take a drive to the coast. Nehalem Bay State park never disappoints. I’d avoid the touristy spots and head to Jetty Fishery. Bring a 6 pack of cheap beer, order a couple Dungeness crabs, grab a picnic table, and get crackin.
Another day, take a drive out to Hood River and along the Gorge. That drive along 84 is stunning, and I don’t say that lightly.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, it takes a village. My husband, Jeff, has been my biggest supporter. Even though it hasn’t always been an easy road, he’s the most consistent, patient & grounded person I know. A literal rock if there ever was one. I’m also fortunate to be surrounded by some pretty incredible women who have been amazing examples of confidence, resilience, & ingenuity. I have some amazing friends who keep me grounded and love me enough to be honest with me. They know who they are. Honestly, my whole community of humans, including current and former clients, are just the best. They’ve given me the space to find and be myself, and that’s been the greatest gift ever. I often sign-off my written and video content with “Love y’all, Mean it.” and that’s absolutely the truth. I really do mean it. I love my people deep. This is dedicated to every one of them.
Instagram: @qmecreative, @sixfootsmokeshow
Christy Hunter @authenticphotosanddesigns