“Make magic happen.” These words adorn one of my favorite shirts, made by Polished Prints: beautiful t-shirts created by Leah Longueville. The brand is focused on bringing people together through minimalist, feel-good designs that will spark joy in its wearer through all seasons of life—and a series of events (sparked by beautiful t-shirts) brought Leah and I together to meet and I am so seriously happy to share her story.
“Self-care is something I really struggle with,” Leah says. “I had originally thought that if I was working for myself, there would be more time for that… but it’s definitely still a conscious choice I have to make. Last year, I got to a point where I’d have clients calling early in the morning… when you’re in an office, it’s so ingrained that you just have to be ‘on’ all the time. I switched to making the effort to run after dropping Lily to daycare… and I have to run in nature, if I can. Spending time in nature just nourishes my soul.” Leah grew up in southern Illinois, near the Shawnee National Forest, and so she loves to run surrounded by trees. “It’s the biggest stress reliever.”
Now, she’ll start her work day after that run. “I jump into design work for clients and then will transition to Polished Prints work, like inventory right now, or updates to my website. I struggle with routine, because things are always so different—I definitely like to switch it up, though. I feel very blah when I spend all day on my phone and computer—I need to be physically doing things, with my hands. So it’s nice when I need to label boxes, handle inventory, and can get away from a screen.” Leah says she charges her phone in the kitchen, to be sure she doesn’t check it at night or early in the morning. “It’s just nice to step away and have that time for self-reflection.”
Leah has always been a writer and creative person. “I’ve spent my whole life writing… I knew from an early age, if I was ever good at anything, it was writing. I have always been a storyteller… learning about people, including myself, has always coincided with that writing. I feel like I’m on this journey to know myself… and as a written processor, I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of pages in journals over the years,” she says. Leah attended Southern Illinois University (SIU) and worked for the student-led paper on the city desk and then was editor in chief for two semesters. “I had started blogging in college, on Tumblr, and while it felt a little uncomfortable pushing my own content, I essentially created this alter ego of ‘Stella Louise’ with the blog, and it was a way to talk about things. Soon, with the paper, though, I realized I had turned a lot of my side passions into work, and it wasn’t until later that I picked up journaling and other things I had enjoyed before.”
Leah was working for a local tourism marketing and management agency, when she realized that she needed a change—and a new influx of things she’d once enjoyed. “I’d just had my daughter, and I felt like something was missing… I went through old journals, and was like ‘why am I not seeing the world in this way still?’ I was really out of my element and felt like I couldn’t continue living life that way.” It so happened an opportunity for a contract soon after allowed her to make the transition.“The stars aligned, and I said yes.”
Leah’s company, Yallow Creative was born through this. “Business started piling in, which was great, but then I found myself back in that place—being nervous, overwhelmed, anxious… I had started Polished Prints as a stationery company as a creative outlet when I was pregnant with Lily, and a friend asked me to make a onesie as a gift… so I got out the Cricut, started making shirts, and something just clicked.” Leah chose phrases and sayings that resonated with her. “I feel like that really saved me during that moment… I had literally never felt so lost, after having Lily, and changing things up in my career—I was doubting my abilities with everything.” Leah and I talked about our love for Gabby Bernstein’s “The Universe Has Your Back.” “The universe has your back has truly been my anthem,” Leah says. “Right when I felt things were growing maybe too fast, work was piling up with Polished Prints orders, my husband suggested I outsource the printing—and the perfect opportunity showed up for that, right here in town.”
Leah is an enneagram 9, the peacemaker. “I’m also a Libra, so I’m definitely indecisive about small things,” she says. “It’s so interesting to see how everyone handles situations in different ways, based on personality types,” she laughs.
Lily will be two soon; Leah says mornings are very different now than they were just a month ago. “Lily will wake up at about 6:15 now, versus that 4 a.m. wake-up time not too long ago,” she says. Mornings for the Longueville family are all about quality time together. “My husband leaves for work at 6:30, so we try to get up together and spend some time with each other… and then Lily and I will build castles and play together with blocks, color, play together… and then have breakfast and coffee before getting ready.”
Leah loves podcasts: “How I Built This with Guy Raz is one of my absolute favorites,” she says. “And a sustainable one! I did like Goal Digger and Girlboss Radio for a while at the start of my entrepreneurial journey, but feel like I’ve kind of outgrown them—they’re a little too filled with ads for me now.” She also loves murder mystery podcasts and Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. “The Brené Brown episode on the anatomy of trust, and especially self trust, was so, so good.”
She also likes to read right before bed, if she has time. “Big Magic was such an important book to me,” she says. “It was like, ok, are you writing this just to me?” She also loves Gillian Flynn books (“I love murder fiction!”) and “anything that breaks your heart a little and pulls at your heartstrings.” She says “My Sunshine Away” was a great read. She says it’s a mystery and coming-of-age story that was written very beautifully.