HALFWAY there, THANKYOUVERYMUCH

In honor of the mid-point of our first pregnancy, I'm devoting this post to all the working mamas out there. I honestly do not know how you do it. My baby's in my belly and I already get overwhelmed with the combination of the two (especially thanks to perpetual morning sickness that followed me until about 18 weeks - now it's just nausea, but I digress...) The first twenty weeks were not without their dramatic points:

1. After a year of hoping and wishing for Baby Ley, we gave up. (read: my insane 4-week National Stationery Show prep took over my life in May)
2. At the end of May, Bryan and I decided it was time for ELP and ELC to deserve my full attention and I gave notice to my employer.
3. Two days before my last day with said employer, I had a strange craving for Twizzlers on my way home. Thanks to a friends crazy dream that I might be "with-child" I also picked up a little test.
4. A few hours, lots of tears, frantic reading and re-reading of test directions - Bryan and I were officially mommy and daddy to microscopic Baby Ley.
5. Lots of morning sickness, a near-trip to the ER for fluids, constant napping and carb-cravings ensue.
6. 13 weeks: "Congratulations! Baby Ley is almost certainly a GIRL!"
7. 18 weeks: "Congratulations! Baby Ley is ('see this right HERE') most definitely a BOY!"
8. Multiple false positives on multiples tests, a few heart attacks, many mommy-tears later... Baby Ley is healthy, strong and a future NFL-Kicker (He'll play for the Chicago Bears, of course).
9. Here we are... after 12 lbs, many kicks, lots of ketchup (random craving) and gummy bears (not together, of course) - halfway to the day where we'll get to hold our little Boy. 

We're 98% sold on a name and do plan to share it before his birthday... stay tuned. Now... there are a few things I could not (CANNOT) live without as an expectant working woman. 



My Mossimo Drape Front Sweater (Target). I wear this every day. Not kidding. We keep our home pretty cool, so this is a nice lightweight cardigan. But during those "I swear I'm pregnant, not just chubby" weeks (which JUST NOW have given way to a nice obviously pregnant belly), this made me feel much better. It's very flattering - and a great deal at $20.

Chick Fil A diet lemonade was my lifesaver when I was feeling really sick. It's low in calories and super refreshing - especially given that my sick days were during the PEAK of the summer here in South Florida (July-August).

Essential tanks from Ann Taylor LOFT - they're $5 right now, but I got some for $2! I'm 5 months along and can still wear these. They're very cute under jackets or cardigans. I have 8, I think. I wear these all the time - including to sleep in.



Something about being four months away from being a biz-owning, working mama of a newborn has made me incredibly thrifty - and this website is my favorite for that. At first, I shied away from this for really dumb reasons. I thought "Well, we can afford our grocery bill (etc) so I dont need to take time to cut/carry coupons." Essentially I was saying that my money wasn't important to me and I enjoyed giving it away. WHAT?! There are so many things we want and want to do with B-man (yes, his new nickname) and my being a savvy shopper helps that a lot. This website is fabulous (thanks, Dusty!) I promise to write a longer post for all you savvy, Southern ladies (including working-mama's in my same boat!) about exactly how this is done. Let's just say my last trip to Publix cost $8 with a total savings of $69.

iCal: What would I DO without this program? I use this for everything. It's synched between my iMac, my iPhone and my Macbook Air. iCal allows you to have multiple calendars all on the same calendar (color coded), so I have my personal calendar, work calendar, birthdays, etc all in one. This has been so helpful in getting me on a schedule for ELP, ELC and my growing family. Working for yourself is amazing, but it is HARD. I have to be really disciplined with myself. I schedule everything and try to do a half-way decent job of sticking to it. My ideal day (and you better believe 90% of these things are ACTUALLY on my iCal):

7am: Wake up, breakfast (typically cereal or yogurt w/ granola)
7:30: Gym
8:00: Run any errands for the day (Publix, Post Office, Staples, etc) OR home to clean up the house
8:30/9:00: Home to shower and get ready for the day
10:00ish: Start working - create a to-do list for the day
12:00: Lunch at my desk, still working OR on some days, lunch with a friend or Bryan - always nice to get out :)
12:00-5:00: Working on branding projects, fulfilling wholesale orders, phone-dates with potential ELC clients, shipping fun
5:00: Attempt to put something together for dinner
6:00: B gets home, dinner time
7:00: Wrap up work and spend some q-time with B

I get to enjoy this schedule for 4 more months, then it gets jumbled up and mixed with feedings, play dates, and probably email time at midnight. I know there are a lot of you who've emailed me that you're expecting (or newly expecting!!) and I hope this is helpful. 



Baby Center is a great website for information. What to Expect When You're Expecting is a great book too. If you get scared or confused, don't google anything (trust me on this one), it'll only make things worse. Perhaps my favorite pregnancy book is Jenny McCarthy's "Belly Laughs." It. Is. Hilarious. She basically tells it like it is - reading it is like laughing with a girlfriend who's been there done that. Granted, it's a little graphic at points, but a really quick, fun read.

And if any of you pro's out there have any tips for soon-to-be-working-mama's like myself who want to make things happen for their businesses and their families, I hope you'll comment and share your wisdom - I know I'd love some pointers!


OH ME OH MY

Where on earth have the past three months gone? Things have been busy, crazy, new, exciting, scary - almost too much to put into words. I've been trying to connect with this new idea of becoming a mommy - and not just that, a full-time-business-owning-mommy. Earlier last month I was fortunate to spend a week back home in Pensacola with my family. This photo is a girls' trip to the beach - with my Mom and my best friend, Taylor (who also just HAPPENS to be my little brother's long-time girlfriend). Yes, the girlfriend part happened first - for all who are wondering. It was so nice to unwind and relax - the next few weeks held a bit of craziness.

This is likely my last post in this little blog before the new one launches. This little handmade blog has been great for the past (almost) two years. Two years... holy cow. ELP will be two years old late this December. Two years has gone by very fast. Speaking of two years, Bryan and I will be married for two years in three weeks. Thank God for him. Many don't know this, but we went through a very scary two weeks worrying over sweet Baby Ley thanks to some abnormal test results. It's safe to say they were two of the hardest, scariest two weeks I've ever faced. Bryan, of course, donned his brave face (if only for me) and guided us through it. Late last Friday we got the news that Baby Ley is just fine. He is strong and kicking hard and growing every day (especially this week! I think he may have had a little growth spurt - this belly is getting bigger!) I have so many special posts I cant wait to share when the new blog launches. Alongside that blog, Emily Ley Paper and Emily Ley Creative will be brand new as well. Stay tuned.

MTH2010

What a whirlwind of a week! I am totally late in posting this as I've been digging out of an ENORMOUS shipment of Emily Ley Paper album orders, holiday album design, Emily Ley Creative branding clients (oh so much to say about these... amazing, inspiring, passionate, artistic people....) and somewhere in the middle - finding out that my sweet baby girl is actually a SWEET BABY BOY! (You better believe I'm already shopping for little bowties!)

Whew! Right now, I am just so so so excited for the winner of the MTH2010 Scholarship! Lara made the announcement today on her blog. I cannot wait to meet everyone on this amazing journey. Let me just tell you that reading all 141 entries (which seemed to DOUBLE overnight at one point) was amazing. The stories that were told in that little comment field were so real, so wholehearted and so sincere.

Hop over to Lara's blog to watch her video and hear some OTHER exciting news! I cannot WAIT until November!

go, go, GO!

Being a one man show is TOUGH. So rewarding though - to see the direct fruits of your labor. These albums are such a labor of love. They've been delayed a thousand times for a thousand reasons - each I've learned from. The biggest being the TERRIBLE morning all day sickness that hit me as soon as the NSS was over. I have learned SO much about creating these puppies since creating (in a short span of 4 weeks) the lone album I toted with me to NYC. I plan on writing a detailed series of posts with NSS tips (including album building tips) as soon as these albums are out the door. At the end of the day, I will be so proud of them. They ARE shipping next week - as soon as the binders arrive. Hallelujah! I cant wait for these to be in stores. A few photos of the madness here...

iPhone images I forgot I had... me with my lone album on my way to set up for the NSS. Middle: me, getting ready to place loose stationery on the magnetic wall at the English Paper Co booth. Right: The ENORMOUS stack of shipping boxes awaiting albums.


Images from the ELP Everyday Album

More images from the ELP Everyday Album & ELP Wedding Album page stacks - awaiting samples to be adhered to them.

Craziness ensues :) You better believe I have a massage and a date planned for the day these puppies ship.

CASTING CALL!

I've been busy busy busy designing the ELP Holiday Photo Card Album and am in need of family, couple, children or baby photos to be used as examples throughout. Photos taken by professional photogs will be credited beneath examples. Photos taken by "aspiring" photogs (aka with your handy-dandy point and shoot) are great too. Interested in being part of these albums that will be distributed nationwide? Submit hi-res photos with crediting information to hello@emilyleypaper.com. Photos will be slightly cropped to fit photo areas.

A SOFT INTRO... TO EMILY LEY CREATIVE

Sneak peak. I'm so excited about this new adventure. ELP is busy wrapping up albums to send out to our retailers across the US... and this little idea has been brewing for a while. The biz is already official, but the site is being programmed now. It was designed by... yours truly. The importance of branding is something I think about daily... hourly. Consistency, quality and personality are key. I've had the pleasure of already working with a handful of business owners and big dreamers to take their ideas, their stories, their personalities - and visually bring them to life.

The process begins with a phone or skype call and a great, in-depth conversation. The end-result? Your visual brand (inspiration board, color palette, logo, business card design, stationery design, even social media integration... the list can go on and on), copy written specifically for you that encompasses the heart upon which your business is based, a CD containing all the digital files you'll need to move forward, even a heavy, matted inspiration board as a reminder of the pieces that brought your brand together. I'm so over-joyed about this new adventure. Emily Ley Creative will officially launch likely in August... but I'm accepting a handful of new clients for the next few weeks.

To gear up for the launch of the ELC site, the ELP site redesign, AND the new ELP blog - I'm offering 15% off ELC branding packages until August 15. Spaces are limited. Interested? Email me for a full packet of info.

BEING A BUSINESS OWNER ISN'T ALWAYS SUPER-FLY-FABULOUS


Please enjoy the images above. The image on the left is my desk on a typical day - very OCD, very organized, very neat and clean. The image on the right is my desk today - woah. What happened. Please note the Happy Meal cup and Jolly Ranchers. Yea, I'm pregnant.

But today, after sitting in my car outside Staples, slobbering all over my iPhone as I cried to my husband about my terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day, I realized... being a business owner isn't always super-fly-fabulous. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it involves working with people who are different than you, making difficult decisions and (brace yourselves) dealing with money. And I don't know about you guys, but I prefer not to do those things! I shot a text message to a friend who immediately warmed my day. I came home and put on my favorite music (Watermark). Actually, I stopped and got a Happy Meal first - so that kind of helped too. Oh the joys of pregnancy :)

When I got home, I sat for a minute and thought and said a little prayer. Being a business owner is hard. Working full-time for yourself is hard. I had a couple client phone calls for Emily Ley Creative after that moment and I remembered why I love this so much, despite the hard parts. I'm blessed to work with and be surrounded by some of the most amazing, inspirational, talented and sincere people I've ever known. I get to help brides and other business owners turn their big dreams into something visually and wholeheartedly personal and strong.

But along with all that passion, today I realized in a big way - a business owner has to have the strength of an army and savvy that is keen and refined. I also realized that kind of savvy comes from making some pretty big mistakes: making non-lean business decisions (IE spending money where you don't REALLY need to), trusting that every person you work with has your best interest at heart, not clarifying, being direct, and standing up for your dream/business/project/passion. All that to say, my savvy got a little keener today - a little more refined. And my strength got a little stronger. Embrace mistakes and move forward. Learn from them. "Feel the hurt, let it hurt and move on." Quoting myself there...

Like I said to my friend today - being a business owner isn't always sunshine and happy faces, but it's so worth it in the long run. Kind of like pregnancy :) Speaking of which... where are my jolly ranchers...........

A WHOLE NEW KIND OF BALANCE


I wanted to title this "How to make things happen when you can't button your jeans." But I decided to refrain. Lately, this blog post has been bubbling up in me and its an interesting one. My entire life, I've always had this insatiable drive to move forward, to take risks, to do it all and be it all. I knew eventually that would include motherhood. I also knew (know) that will be an entirely new ballgame. But no one tells the over-achiever how to keep going when they're pregnant. Probably because most people say "being pregnant is the most beautiful, most special, most exciting time of your entire life." I've heard "I felt sexier, prettier, healthier than ever before when I was pregnant" and "I had more energy, more spark, more motivation than I'd ever known for nine months." I just assumed I'd be in that group, right?

Not yet...

I can definitely relate to the happy part. Its true - I've never been happier, more excited for something, more blessed. I loved Baby Ley when we found out about her/him, but I fell in love with her/him when I saw his/her arms and legs. Funny... :) BUT I've also never been as nauseous and as tired in my entire life. And I can't button my size 4 jeans, so there. Every woman and every pregnancy is different and I'm happy to say (knock on every piece of wood in this room), I think I've turned the second trimester corner. I don't officially enter the second trimester for two more weeks, but after a weekend of not being able to keep food or water down, my doc prescribed me something to keep the sickness at bay. And it worked like a charm.

My first few weeks of running ELP full time haven't been what I'd envisioned. I'd envisioned days of waking up early to work out (finally, something I never had time for before), working relentlessly til sunset - designing with one hand and stirring the pot of home-made spaghetti with the other (right?). Well... for the first nine and a half weeks of my pregnancy, I was barely able to lift my head off the pillow at 8am and unable to keep it off my keyboard by 2pm. It was a battle. Business is great - and the momentum is definitely there - something I am so grateful for. But for an overachiever like me, the inability to cross things off my mile long to-do list is torturous. So, how did I get through it?

Honestly, I had to give in for a little while. I had to really prioritize (the biggest lesson of a Mother, I'm sure). I gave in to my body when it said "Emily, it's time to sleep - Baby Ley needs to rest." And I had to take advantage of the burst of energy I'd get around 10am. I'd work like crazy because I knew the next round of nausea wasn't far away. I didn't push it though. And now, I'm finally feeling like myself and able to get back into my routine - another lesson of being self-employed - learning how to set up a routine for yourself. More on this later.

So to all you Mama's out there who are doing it all and being it all - hats off. I don't know how you do it. And if you have tips, I'd love to hear them. My business is so important to me - as is my growing family. It's a funny balance already. I'm told there's no greater joy in life than being a mother. And for me, right now, there's no greater joy than knowing that little person is growing safe and sound - and getting the rest, the nourishment and love it needs. Thanks to all of you for your sweet words of congrats and encouragement! xo

Emily + Canon = BFFL

For months now, I've probably thrown my camera at the wall about sixteen times. A few weeks ago, my friends from K&K Photography in Clearwater (just over the bridge from Tampa) came over (with their ADORABLE son Blythe) to help me figure out product photography lighting. They brought some amazing equipment that I plan to purchase in the coming months. But they also walked me through using natural light to photograph my products as well. Here are a few tips I learned.

Natural light is always best. I'd had issues trying to use photography lamp type things and light boxes - bottom line is, they're way too fancy. Overcast weather is perfect for product lighting - especially indoors near a good window. The clouds filter the light so that you don't have sunbeams coming in on your products.

If you don't know how to use your camera (ahem... me) don't be embarrassed to set it on "P" (I think this means "programmed" or something like it). It's the auto setting that decides all the settings for you based on your environment.

Custom white balance is key. Figure out how to use your camera's custom white balance feature. This makes sure that the "white" you're photographing actually turns out white in your images - rather than blue/white or yellow/white.

When in doubt (of Photoshop), use iPhoto. I know, I know - all my photographer friends just cringed. I'm an Illustrator girl myself, so Photoshop intimidates me a bit. Until I learn Photoshop, I'm sticking with iPhoto - and it does a pretty decent/quick job.

Buy a GOOD SLR camera. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars, but invest between $600-$1,000 on your camera and consider buying additional lenses. I have the Canon XSi and three lenses - the standard lense, a 1.8 lense (that gives you the "dreamy" feel - where certain parts of the image are blurry and certain parts are not depending on where you're focusing), and a macrophotography (perfect for stationery designers; this lets you photograph small features like type very easily).

Here's my favorite photo from my mini-shoot today. I took these phot lense os on an antique wooden table near a window with great overcast light (not BRIGHT light, just enough) and used a few cute props for added personality.

MAKING THINGS HAPPEN - PACK YOUR BAGS!

What a year this has been. On the SAME DAY in June... my husband and I found out we are expecting our first child... and hours later, I got a call from Lara Casey inviting me to join her in Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco and Los Angeles for the next leg of the Making Things Happen tour. Talk about a big day. I'm so excited to continue this journey - I can only imagine what those ten days in November will hold. Yes, I'll be six months pregnant - Baby Ley's first travel adventure!! Read/watch Lara's announcement of the next leg of the Making Things Happen Tour as well!

Life Changing

The past month has been life changing in ways that I'll never be able to write about. New York and the National Stationery Show were a fantastic success. My husband and I made the decision for me to pursue Emily Ley Paper full time... and one week later, a dream we'd had for over a year came true... we found out that we are going to have a baby.

After a year of specialists, tests, surgery and prayers galore our dreams came true. Baby Ley is eight weeks old and while he/she is making Mommy very nauseous, he/she is already a big part of the Ley family. Its an indescribable feeling - knowing that next February we will have a little family.

This takes my desire to make things happen with ELP to an entirely new level. I cant wait to show my baby that he or she can be anything in the whole wide world - that they can go to college for six years, earn an English Degree and a Masters in Administration then make the crazy decision to follow their heart to pursue their creative passions. They can do and be anything. Though we've kept our fertility journey pretty private, I cant wait to share this journey into motherhood with you all. Looks like ELP will need a baby line soon...

MTH2010 :: Lara's Six Month Check-in

Lara just tweeted a link to a blog post she wrote introducing MTH2010. I revisited the post and re-did the excercise... wow. Has it really been six months since MTH in Watercolor? This paragraph sticks out to me the most. In seven days, I'll be living my dream full time. Do I feel the fear. OH my goodness... I'm more excited, nervous, anxious, fearful, stoked, and in love with what I do than ever...

Read this from Lara...
Fear. Every "big" thing I've ever accomplished in my life I was terrified of at one point. Fear is the biggest thing preventing you from really making things happen. Right now, you already know the answers. You know not-so-deep down what you have to do. You just have a million excuses and fears as to why you can't get there. My job as a consultant is to hear the fear. I was a personal trainer in Manhattan for several years, during which time I learned more about self-imposed limitations than I care to share. I have heard every excuse for living an unhappy life and the truth of the matter is (and no one likes to hear this)... it's all in your head. Face real facts, not the constant mental chatter that holds you back from living the life of success you deserve. When you simply identify your fear, worlds of possibility open up.

Wow... after walking through that exercise again. Its funny how the same fears creep up every now and then, how my strengths have grown, but are remarkably the same strengths I had in December, how things have shifted a bit now that I will be running ELP full time, how many opportunities I have had since December, and how many times I've fallen on my face along the way - great risk = great reward. The more times I've tried, the more times I've both failed AND gotten it exactly right. Interesting... go here & do this.

OH THIS IS GOOD

ELP'S SISTER COMPANY. . . A SNEAK PEAK

Coming soon... a sister company from ELP. Over the past few years, I've really developed a passion for branding. That can be seen through my love for Wedding Crests, graphic design and working with other passionate business owners. Earlier this year, I started exploring my creative talents a little more by taking on a few branding clients. Over the next few weeks here and on the new blog, I'll be sharing a few of our journeys. Branding isn't just about graphic design, its about capturing feeling, emotion, stories, personalities, quirks, humor, passions and dreams. Working with branding clients, for me, is like working with brides. I find that I'm guiding and walking with them through a delicate, enormous, exciting and creative journey.

Tracy Larsen is a photographer. But not just any photographer. She's a photographer who adores children, finds joy in natural light and passion in family. She contacted me looking for a brand that reflected "love, creativity, purity and honesty in [children's] faces, letting kids do what kids do and stepping in to capture that moment, freezing time, life long memories, [strong client] relationships." Tracy's style as a person and a photographer is very natural, minimal and full of life.



The branding process (with the super secret new ELP sister company) includes three steps:

  1. Discussion: We talk about your company, why you got started, why you do what you do, what you love most and least about it. We talk about you, your story, your personality, your passion. This allows me the chance to get to know you - to answer your questions and get to the heart of your brand.
  2. Color Palette & Inspiration Board: We gather any images you may be saving or may have tagged as ones you really identify with. Pairing any of these images with others that may fit the aesthetic we have in mind, I present three inspiration boards to you. These boards, like the one above, are full of captivating photos based on our discussion (as well as photo sources). For Tracy, I started with HER own photos - pulling the character, personalities and color from within. We refine and perfect these until we have a board and palette that are truly representative of your brand and most importantly, of you. (See Tracy's finalized Inspiration Board, Color Palette and Logo above)
  3. Logo development: Next, we begin designing the logo. I'll present you with four options based on our discussion and your inspiration board. We'll refine and perfect these adding colors from your palette and design elements to bring your logo to life.
I'm so excited to watch Tracy's brand grow here and here. She's wildly talented and has a real gift for working with children. It was such a joy to help design the elements of her brand - one that really already existed within her - as a mother and a photographer. Follow Tracy on Twitter and visit her on her site and blog.
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Interested in working with ELP's secret sister company? For now, before the official launch, contact me here and I'll provide all the details you need about this branding process and many other services available.

THE MTH FIRST CLASS

I just realized... my first day of working full time for ELP will be EXACTLY six months since I attended Making Things Happen in Watercolor. How ironic. It's also the launch date for ELP's sister company... details coming soon...

This morning, I was reading Gina Zeidler's post about how today is ironically her three year anniversary (congrats to M&G!) as well as her last day at her "day job." Tomorrow she begins a whole new life. I am so proud of her.

Monday, I read this post from Lauren Kelly. In Watercolor she had a dream about expanding beyond wedding planning - into serving couples after their "big day" as they embark on the biggest journey of their lives. Lauren has teamed up with amazing people nationwide to start Spark - a holistic retreat for married couples. I am so proud of her.

Last Thursday, as I was minutes away from telling my boss that I'd be leaving my full time job, I caught Christopher Confero on Facebook. He gave me a fabulous little pep-talk. I just adore him. Since MTH, I have witnessed someone with a heart of gold take risks and put himself out there in a way that is almost breaktaking. See here, here and here. I am so proud of him.

Valerie has pulled all of her creativeness under one hat - Southern Fete - and continues to grow her business - not to mention becoming a bride herself. It has been such a joy to watch Valerie grow. She is so kind and supportive - always first with a sweet encouraging tweet right when you need it. I am so proud of her.

While riding in a tiny cab to our hotel in NYC for the National Stationery Show, I got a text message from Lara Casey - whom I admire and respect greatly... "Just wanted to wish you all the best this weekend. I know you will knock their socks off!" How this Superwoman has time to send her encouragement at just the right time, I do not know. I appreciate Lara and Jeff so very much.

It's funny what that one little day did in my life. And I know that though I'm speaking for myself, it meant that much to everyone else in the room as well. There are so many amazing success stories - I'm leaving out tons. But I just wanted to note how much life can change when you break down walls, climb over hurdles and step outside your comfort zone.... when you live and work with passion and purpose.

Thanks to the MTH First Class. I love you ALL and am so proud of how much we've all grown as people and professionals. And our stories are just the first of MANY. Cheers to you all - here's to making BIG things happen during the second half of 2010.

RIGHT WHERE I AM: LIFE IS GOOD.

My friend Jenna told me the other day... "I'm going to start calling you STELLA because you're about to get your GROOVE back." My husband took this photo of me in our backyard yesterday afternoon. What am I doing? Who knows. But I apparently thought he was pretty funny. I love this photo. It's so me. So casual, so lighthearted, so imperfect. Jeans. Long hair. Not skirt suits. Not stuffy. Life is good. And its only about to get better. More driven, more ambitious, more opportunity, more creative, more authentic. Happy weekend.

A BIG DAY FOR ELP

And so, it is with all the pride, nervousness and confidence in the world that I share with you all that beginning on June 21, I will be devoting my efforts, my love and my attention to ELP full time. This was a long time coming and something that has been weighing heavily on my heart for months now. I'm leaving a terrific job as a fundraiser for a Women in Leadership program for the 9th largest University in the nation. But I'm leaving this job to pursue my OWN leadership and passions - something I spoke to spectacular women about daily. ELP has reached every goal I've set for it... and then some. I'm sure I'll write a more heartfelt post later - but for now. I'm so proud. Thank you so much for all of your love, your encouragement, your prayers and your support.

PHOTOS FROM THE NSS

A few photos from the National Stationery Show:
The Emily Ley Paper section of the English Paper Co booth. On the wall is the Social Stationery Collection, in the album and displayed on the shelf is the Wedding Crests (TM) and Classics Collection.
One of my new favorite people, Sophie Askew (also the Art Director for Tiffany & Co), in front of the Askew Design section of the English Paper Co booth. Second photo - ME = NERVOUS on day one. Third photo, the ever-fabulous Christopher Confero and I in front of the English Paper Co booth on Day One. 
From left: Bryan, my husband, and I; Sophie Askew and I; Whitney English and I. Words cant sum up the thanks I have to Whitney for her mentoring and endless coaching. English Paper Co is doing some BIG things right now. Keep an eye out and visit their blog here

ELP'S FIRST NATIONAL STATIONERY SHOW

I’m going to write a much more in depth blog post very soon, but I can’t delay writing what’s overwhelming me right now. The National Stationery Show was unbelievable. I cant find the words (rare for me) to describe the experience. Just one month prior to the show, I found out I’d be exhibiting. I worked myself into a frenzy but finally made it there. On Day One, I was exhausted, filled with adrenaline, terrified, and excited beyond belief. I told my husband as we had breakfast before the show in our hotel that I was going to go back to sleep because 1) I was scared and 2) I felt like I was going to my first day at a new school and I didn’t know if anyone would like me (AKA my collections).

I remember those moments just a few days ago, and how my husband had to literally WALK me to the show… and I can’t help but laugh. Putting myself out there was scary. But ELP was received in a fantastic and wonderful way. The biggest compliment I received was that my collection “filled a niche in a big way.” Many retailers were looking for 1) a Wedding Collection with a high end appeal and two price points and 2) a Social Stationery Collection that is simple, classic and polished – with a fresh/modern edge.

I got to meet so meet so many amazing bloggers, magazine editors, other designers, the English Paper Co crew (some of my new favorite ppl ever!) among so many others. That, in itself, was a huge blessing. I cant thank Whitney English & English Paper Co enough for their support. ELP’s first National Stationery Show was a great success.

And so beginning this summer, ELP will now be carried in 30+ retail stores nationwide. Stay tuned for two NEW Collections coming soon! The ELP Holiday Collection and the ELP Accessories Collection.

If you’re interested in carrying any of the ELP Collections, please contact me here.

THE WEDDING CRESTS & CLASSICS COLLECTION

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Introducing . . . The Wedding Crest™. Southern ladies have a real “thing” for monograms – we monogram our napkins, our bags, even our clothes. Heck, we’ll monogram our placemats if you let us. Over the past few years, monograms have become increasingly popular as a way to brand a wedding – used the same way you would use a business or event logo. Overall, they’ve brought consistency to invitation suites, favors and gifts – even provided themes to tie décor together.
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ELP is taking that theory one step further – introducing the Wedding Crest – a polished, elaborate spin on the everyday-monogram. At the National Stationery Show this weekend, ELP will be debuting our Wedding Crest and Classics Collection – a line featuring 20 Wedding Crests and 4 Classic style invitation suites. The Wedding Crest™ is intricate, clean and very personalized. Using artwork and text, the Wedding Crest ties together your personalities, your love story and your big day. Each Wedding Crest in the collection is available as an invitation, response set, enclosure card, menu, program, place card, thank you note and save the date in letterpress OR flat printed. Some are simple and sweet, others are elaborate and bold.
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Stop by the English Paper Co booth if you’re in NYC this weekend to check out the Wedding Crest and Classics Collection (as well as the new Social Stationery collection – complete with flat stationery, imprintables and party invitations). Albums are available for pre-order now (wholesale@emilyleypaper.com for more info). I’ll be debuting the ENTIRE collection including all 20 Wedding Crests here on my blog after the National Stationery Show!

ELP is also offering CUSTOM Wedding Crests for those brides who want something a bit more fitted to their taste, style and story. (emily@emilyleypaper.com for more info).
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SEE YOU AT THE NSS!


This video blog is LONG overdue! Forgive my hair. It happens when you don't sleep for a month :)

ELP ON PAPERCONCIERGE


In an ever changing, ever growing, extremely saturated stationery industry, I can’t tell you how cool I think this concept is: PaperConcierge is the brain child of Caroline Brant. Caroline owned a retail store called Leap Frog Paper for many years and recently partnered with English Paper Co to pursue PaperConcierge in a big way. The concept behind this business is game-changing. Anyone in the paper-world knows how important it is for customers to have a personal experience. While online-shopping is and continues to be all-the-rage, the personalized experience and any valuable face-to-face time is key. Paper goods are special because you can touch and feel them – unlike an email or a text message. Letterpress, in particular, is a specialty that can really only be appreciated when you hold a letterpress piece and feel the richness of the deep indentations on thick cotton stock (in the case of ELP).

PaperConcierge marries the concept of online shopping, the personalized experience and face-to-face interaction. PC carries the best brands in the stationery industry and empowers its “Concierges” to own their own stationery business “without the overhead.” Concierges purchase a startup kit for only $175 that includes samples, 100 personalized business cards, a personalized website and email address. Concierges then sell directly to clients and let the team behind PC take care of the rest. I’m telling you, this concept EXCITES me. And I’m thrilled that Emily Ley Paper is part of it.

AND PaperConcierges receive 25% off personal orders (HELLO BRIDES! THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU!) Visit PaperConcierge here. Follow Caroline & PaperConcierge on Twitter. Click here for more information on becoming a PaperConcierge. Keep an eye on this company, its bound to make a huge impact on the stationery industry.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT MAKING THINGS HAPPEN.

You all know that the Making Things Happen workshop in Watercolor last December really changed me quite a bit. It gave me a newfound appreciation for my unique brand, helped me dig up the courage to fall pretty hard and connected me with some of the most inspiring, incredible people I’ve ever met.

But since December, SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. So much. Have I accomplished all of the goals I set for myself? Nope. Have I accomplished things that I didn’t even THINK to add to my list? Yep. A few things I’ve learned that have become INCREDIBLY valuable to me:
  • Don’t be afraid to fall. And when you do, feel how bad it hurts, learn something, pick yourself up and move on in a BIG way.
  • Have patience (huh? What’s that?) It is cliché – but Rome was not built in a day. Do your best work and constantly improve your art AND processes.
  • Make every connection possible – the best way to make things happen. You never know where these connections will lead.
  • Take opportunities as they come to you. Especially when you are new, it’s so important to put yourself out there. I think about the times I was most afraid to put myself out there – great risk = great reward.
  • Pay it forward. As you learn, don’t be shy about sharing the lessons you’ve learned with others – even if you’re not an expert yet.
  • Be authentic. Life’s greatest lesson. Try hard, mess up, experiment, expand your art, broaden your reach – but most importantly BE TRUE TO YOURSELF, to what you like, don’t like, to your personality – the way you work with people, the words you use. Let your brand grow ORGANICALLY from this.
This weekend, I’m putting myself out there in a big way. Am I excited? Holy cow. Am I nervous? You betcha. Will the craziness I’ve taken on the past month pay off? I have no doubt. If you’re in NYC this weekend, stop by the English Paper Co. booth and say hello! I’ll be debuting the Social Stationery and Wedding Crest & Classics collections on the new blog – launching after the National Stationery Show.

National Stationery Show (!!!!!!!!)

I've been MIA! I KNOW! :) I'm the most overwhelmed, excited, exhausted, PUMPED I think I've ever been - since starting ELP. If you're in NYC in two weeks, come to the NATIONAL STATIONERY SHOW and swing by the English Paper Company booth - there you'll find ME! I'm thrilled and honored to be exhibiting as part of this booth and to be working with this fantastic company. In one month, I've designed and produced my Wedding Collection album, maneuvered a mini-facelift for the website and blog (coming soon) and designed a whole HEAP of a social stationery collection. This announcement deserved a video blog. But just like I havent slept in 2 weeks, I also havent worn makeup in 2 weeks, so there. Here are some photos of my life lately - including swatches, my album mock-up, a glass of wine or five... see you in NY!









OH MY, HANDMADE GOODNESS!

I am so excited to share that I will be contributing to an amazing new blog - Oh My, Handmade Goodness!

Oh My, Handmade Goodness was started, and is edited, by a business owner I admire in many ways. Sara Tams owns Sarah & Abraham - a great paper studio just full of goodness for children. I'll be joining current contributors - Stacy of Name Your Design, Amanda of Lucky Guppy Marketing, Stacy of Inkspot Workshop, Meg of Olliegraphic, Arianne of Aeolidia, Holly of Holly Mathis Interiors, Heather of Cookie Mondays, Nicole of Honeybunch, Marla of Keeping up with Stella and Lizzie of Lizzie Sorensen Brand Management.
I'm so excited to be part of OMHG - blogs like these are so special and important to entrepreneurs. There's so much to be said for expanding your network and interacting with other business owners through a format like OMHG. Stay tuned for business how-to's, handmade finds and the inspiration to keep you going. Meanwhile, go check it out!

I AM ALIVE! HAPPY TUESDAY.

HELLOOOOOO BLOG FRIENDS! I am alive. I swear. I have so much blog-goodness stored up in my head that I take one look at my keyboard, shudder and walk away. I. Have. So. Much. Going. On. And it is awesome and just how I like it. Type A anyone?

In this little post you're not getting any ettiquete tips, any pretty photos, any inspirational goodness or any of my thoughts on life. Well maybe a few. Just a big fat HELLO-how-are-you-see-you-soon-update.

Branding Clients. I love you. I have had the joy of working with a handful of branding clients on inspiration boards, color palletes, logo design, packaging concepts, social media pages and stationery design (well of course). It fires me up. It makes my soul happy. Sappy, I know. But I love this side of ELP. Seriously, helping others visualize their passions is pure joy to me. I'll be featuring a few of these on the new blog in May! Interested in big or little help? You know where to find me.

Brides. I love you also. Just completed some GORGEOUS custom letterpress suites - one for a darling bride in Virginia and another for a bride whose groom has the coolest name ever. I will display gorgeous photos for all very soon. More custom work up my sleeve.

ELP Love. So much ELP love! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the ELP love! Featured on Style Me Pretty thanks to the talents of Ashley Baber and Holly Chapple. Featured in Eco Beautiful Weddings thanks to Get Polished Events in NOLA (a city with a special place in my heart!). (Thanks Katie, Val and Emily!) Now part of
Lemon Tree Paperie. MORE exciting news to share in this little section - but not quite yet :)

Wholesale. What a beast! And I mean that in a fuzzy, snuggly monkey beast sort of way. New wholesale clients, big wholesale relationship in the works. Album is UNDERWAY (the beast itself).

Website/Blog. Guess what! ELP is getting a mini face-lift. Stay tuned for a couple changes and the new blog in May.

I'm tired just writing this. I need wine. Happy sunny, 80 degree Tampa Tuesday.

ELP ON STYLE ME PRETTY!

What a day yesterday was! ELP is now up and running on Lemon Tree Paperie AND ELP was included in a feature on Style Me Pretty! A huge thanks to the ever-fabulous Ashley Baber and Holly Chapple for asking me to create placecards, menus and an invitation suite for this shoot. Purple is really making a big comeback this year, so I was really excited to use these tones in the suite I created for them.



The suite features the Ginny Crest found here. Its one of my top three favorites crests that I've designed - really simple and fresh.



Thanks to Style Me Pretty, Ashley and Holly for the great photos and feature yesterday!

ELP ON LEMON TREE PAPERIE

I've been bursting at the seems to share this news! Earlier this year, Whitney English approached me about carrying the ELP Wedding Collection on Lemon Tree Paperie - an online boutique that carries classic, modern paper goods from amazing brands like Whitney English, Dabney Lee, Lilly Pulitzer. I was STOKED and jumped at the opportunity.


The collection is available in letterpress, of course, but we're offering a flat printed option as well. Soon, the entire ELP Wedding Collection will be available exclusively through select online retailers and boutiques. I'll still take custom wedding orders, but the collection will be wholesale. I cant tell you how excited I am about this new business model. There are some other big announcements in the near future, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, visit Lemon Tree Paperie and follow Lemon Tree Paperie on Twitter!

MUST READ :: LINCHPIN

Hello! It's been a while. There has been so much going on - and I've been learning so much along the way. I haven't written much because I've been working on a few projects and head first into the book "Linchpin" by Seth Godin. Oh. My.

New favorite book. #1. Ever.

I've been reading it slowly so that I can take each word in. Its a book that resonates within my heart like no other book. The basis of the book is understanding that little voice within you that says "... says who..." or "... why do we do it like this ..." It is a must read. As traditional as I may be, I've always questioned the status quo.
  • Who says you have to wear a skirt suit to be a powerful woman?
  • Who says productivity is bound to the hours of 8am to 5 pm?
  • Who says you should have to go to work every day for the REST of your life doing something that, while wonderful work, may not fire you up - fill the voids within you - give your life a greater purpose.
  • Who says greatness is ONLY measured in reports and numbers.
  • Who says I'm not allowed to question these things because "that's how it is" "welcome to life" "everyone feels that way" or "it is what it is."
And that's just it. It ISNT. More and more with the shift in the economy people are questioning these things. And just like faith, in my opinion, we are STRENGTHENED when we question. Our faith strengthens when we question and then reaffirm it. Our love is strengthened when it is tested. And our lives are strengthened and enriched when we step back and say "SAYS WHO."

OH I am so passionate about this. I promise I will write my own book about it one day. Favorite page from Seth's book so far ::

"Do you remember the old American Dream?" It struck a chord with millions of people (in the United States and in the rest of the world, too). Here's how it goes:

Keep your head down.
Follow instructions.
Show up on time.
Work hard.
Suck it up.
... you will be rewarded. As we've seen, that dream is over.

The new American Dream, though, the one that markets around the world are embracing as fast as they can, is this:

Be remarkable.
Be generous.
Create art.
Make judgement calls.
Connect people and ideas.
... and we have no choice but to reward you."

INSPIRATION :: CLEAN, SIMPLE SOUTHERN

So inspired by simple, clean colors in natural settings. And what's an inspiration board without a little inspiration from one of my favorite authors. Its safe to say most, if not all, of the ELP Wedding Collection was inspired by images like these.

Image Credits (from top left):
NYC kitchen featured on House Beautiful
Spring tablescape from Pottery Barn
Beautiful, classic wedding on Style Me Pretty
Wooden sign designed by Chocolate Butterbean

MORE OPTIONS :: WISH UPON A WEDDING SALE

I've added sets of 24, 50 or 100 to the Wish Upon a Wedding Personal Stationery sale. Each set comes with personalized notecards and coordinating envelopes (shown above) in kraft, white, chartreuse, fuchsia and pink. Return address is delicately printed across the back flap. Follow this link to be part of this contribution for an amazing cause.

MARSHMALLOWS & WOODPECKERS

I had the privilege of hearing Ariane de Bonvoisin speak yesterday at the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction luncheon. It was my second time hearing her speak – and she moved me even more yesterday than the first time. Ariane held a top corporate job managing a $500 million venture capital fund at the age of 30. She was making great money and was miserable. So one day, her “inner microphone” said to her “Ariane… get out.” And she did.

She left her high paying, miserable job in search of the “thing” that fired her up. She travelled Europe (she was born in NYC, but is part Belgiun and part English) – and went on to visit all 7 continents. During her adventure, she started to realize how much she was changing – all because of this change she’d made in her life. So she spoke to everyone she met about just that – change. She asked people who had experienced incredible, miraculous changes what the best thing that came out of that change was. And she asked the same question of people who’d lost loved ones. The good and the bad. She compiled the lessons she learned in her book “The First 30 Days.” But two stories she told yesterday really struck a chord with me.

MARSHMALLOWS
A group of five year old students were each given one marshmallow. They were told they could do whatever they wanted to with it. But if they waited five minutes before eating it, they’d receive a second marshmallow. 90% of the kids ate their marshmallow. 5% licked their marshmallow :)  and 5% waited with marshmallow in hand for the second marshmallow. The group of kids who didn’t eat their marshmallow received a second one. And that group was tracked for the next 35 years. Without a shadow of a doubt – that group was wildly more successful than the group who ate their marshmallow.

Patience – and the realization that your greatest accomplishment or opportunity – that which you LONG for – could be just five minutes around the corner – can play a huge role not just in your business, but in your life in general. Emily’s greatest life lesson. Perhaps one day I will fully learn this :)

WOODPECKERS
Ariane talked about how woodpeckers choose a tree. And every day they go back to the tree and peck away. Everyone else looks at the woodpecker and says ‘Crazy woodpecker, what are you doing day after day.” But the woodpecker keeps pecking, monotonously and with dedication. One thing’s for sure – their beak hurts every night. Another thing’s for sure… one day, that tree falls. And everyone else says “Look what that woodpecker did.”

The moral here? Never give up. Even when it feels monotonous. Keep pecking. And don’t eat your marshmallow just yet.

PAYING IT FORWARD :: SPECIAL SALE TO BENEFIT WISH UPON A WEDDING

Philanthropy, and the idea of "paying it forward" is very, very special to me. For many reasons. While enjoying dinner with Lara, Jeff and Sandi in Atlanta for MTH2010, we discussed the passion behind Emily Ley Paper... the reason I do what I do - where this brand came from. Undeniably, the idea of paying it forward was a common thread in the stories I told. I love to teach and share - but most importantly, I have to know that the product I'm producing, the relationships I'm building - there is a deeper meaning behind them all.

So in an effort to pay it forward - to the industry that has welcomed Emily Ley Paper with open arms since the very beginning - I'm offering a special sale :: Boxed Personalized Stationery (each including 100, 50 or 24 notecards paired with coordinating envelopes) are available HERE at a special price. Only 40 available.

30% of the sale price from each set will benefit an organization whose mission is unbelievably important and very special. Following the lead of the Make A Wish Foundation, Wish Upon a Wedding was created to grant the dreams of couples facing terminal illness. Having been a fundraiser for Covenant Hospice, this mission is incredibly dear to me. I've held the hands of those facing the inevitable and witnessed their PURE grace and sheer courage firsthand. To be able to make the dream of the most important day of their lives come true - well... that is a privilege.

Click here to be part of this contribution.
Click here to learn more about Wish Upon a Wedding.


RIGHT WHERE I AM

Every now and then I'm going to post a quote and a photo of me that catch me right where I am. Have you ever read something that just stopped you in your tracks. My mom sent this to me today. She must have known I needed it.

"Do not wait; the time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." - Napoleon Hill

"When you regularly take continuous action toward your most important goals, you activate the
Momentum Principle of success. This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going."

Moms are the best. Especially mine.

THE COOLEST THING I'VE SEEN ALL DAY

Hello!? Chocolate covered cheerios? Seriously? My little Southern heart just skipped a beat. See, we put chocolate (and butter) on well... everything. And I'm a serious Cheerios junkie. I eat them every day. Sometimes twice. Only the plain kind. But I may have just found my new favorite. Thanks Oh Joy Eats. Mmmm Mmmm.