Guide to Trademarks

Many of you know about the difficult Trademark battle I experienced this year. I've had a couple people email me to ask how to go about the process, so thought I'd put together another "How To" - and this one is VERY important. If you are using a name that does not include your NAME in it (IE: Emily Ley Paper), you must MUST file a trademark application. If you do not, you are basically telling any one who'd like to use your business name - they can have it. Trademarking protects you and your business from copy-cats.

First, let's take a look at the different type of intellectual property protections :: a Copyright, Trademark and Patent. Read this article written by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Copyright ($35)
This protects music, literature, articles, etc from being re-used without permission from the creator. (IE: The Beatles songs are all copyrighted).

Trademark ($275)
This protects your business name, tag-line, product name, etc from being used by another company (and thereby causing marketplace confusion with the names). Note: It isn't necessary to Trademark your OWN name (IE: Emily Ley Paper) - you innately own the rights to that name because it includes your own personal name.

Patent ($500 - $1,500, sometimes more)
This protects items and products themselves. For instance, you might patent a fancy toothbrush, so no one else can create that toothbrush.
. . . .

Now, for most of you reading this, you're going to be most concerned with the Trademark process. I cant tell you how important it is to spend that $275. In fact, I made the process easier for me by contacting a representative from the USPTO to manage my applications. His name is Jack Briggs and he can be found here :: 888-250-8786 x86 or

The process is a long and sometimes crazy one, but it's totally worth it. Jack charges $250 + the $275 filing fee to manage your application throughout the lengthy process. He is fantastic and extremely helpful/knowledgeable about the whole process and how to get through the hurdles that might stand in your way. Your application will likely cost you anywhere from $275 - $600 total.
. . . .

Quick Flowchart ::
  1. Research your name.
  2. Search the TESS System for similar marks.
  3. Hire a Trademark Manager (optional) and file your Trademark Application.
  4. Use the TM symbol.
  5. Wait . . .
  6. Publication for contesting in the Official Trademark Gazette.
  7. Conquer any roadblocks.
Step 1:: Research your name ($10)
Do a search through GoDaddy (if you dont already own your domain) and see if is available. If that's not available and a similar one isnt available, revisit the naming process. If you find your domain is available, purchase it and any misspelled versions of your domain as well (this will continue to drive traffic to your site even if someone spells your name wrong). Remember to have GoDaddy help you point your "other domains" to your main one.

Step 2 :: Search the TESS System for similar trademarks or pending apps ($0)
Do a basic search through Google and through the USPTO's TESS system to see if your name is available. You'll be provided with a list of names that are similar or exactly like your name. What's most important is that you're not operating in the same industry as these applications. For instance, Sunshine Studios can operate in the photography industry while Sunshine Studios can also operate in the music video business. Dont be discouraged during this step. Just keep going and do your research.

Step 3a :: Optional - Hire a trademark manager ($525)
If you would like to hire a Trademark Manager (and this isn't a necessity - but nice to have someone in your corner), contact Jack or his USPTO office. He'll help you file your application.

Step 3b :: File your trademark application ($275)
If you've chosen to skip Step 3a, begin filling out your Trademark Application here. There are TWO types of trademark applications - a "mark" and a "stylized mark" If you have a logo that uses special fonts and/or colors, you'll want to file a stylized mark. A regular "mark" is one that consists of only letters and numbers - with no specific font or color attached to it.

Also remember industry classification is key - so pay special attention to your application. When you finished and have paid, submit the application. Visit this site frequently to monitor the progression of your application - have your serial number - from your application confirmation handy.

Step 4 :: Use the "TM" symbol now ($0)
Now that you have a pending trademark application, you are entitled to use the "TM" next to your name. The R with a circle around it is reserved for registered trademarks.

Step 5 :: The waiting game ($0)
This part is not fun. The entire Trademark process can take anywhere (if running smoothly) from 6-12 months. Once your application is received by the USPTO, they will mark it pending and tell you to wait 90 days. You can use the serial number they provide you to constantly monitor the progression of your mark, any approvals or any questions/denials. On the 90th day, your application will be assigned to an examining attorney. If they have any questions, they will contact you or your TM manager for clarification or extra information.

Step 6 :: Official Trademark Gazette ($0)
If you make it through this part, you will be given a date for publication in the Official Trademark Gazette. This gazette is published every Tuesday and allows other TM owners to contest your application (if they feel it is too similar to their own). I was told that 1 out of every 2,000 or so is contested at this point. (My experience = case and point. I was contested here and had to hire an Intellectual Property attorney to handle my roadblock.) Your mark will be published here for 60 days. If it is not contested, you will be approved and assigned a date of registration.

Step 7 :: Any roadblocks here? ($0+)
If you can, don't hesitate to work with an Intellectual Property attorney. The cost between $250-$400 per hour - so they can be pricey. But if you are contested and cannot defend your mark yourself, you will likely lose.

Step 8 :: REGISTERED! ($0)
Once your mark is published for 60 days in the Official Trademark Gazette, you will receive notification of final approval and a date of registration. When your mark is official registered, you will be able to use the R/circle with your logo. A trademark registration is valid for 10 years. If you chose to work with a manager, that person will monitor your mark for you and let you know if A) anyone tries to use it and B) help file your update paperwork throughout the 10 years of registration.

BEST of luck to all who will go down this road. It is WORTH it to protect yourself and your name in the future. If anyone has any questions - please let me know or leave a comment below and I'll answer them for everyone to see. I'm no expert but I've definitely educated myself quite a bit about Trademarks in the past year.

After Step 8 comes the fun part - order new business cards, update your website, etc with your new R/circle next to your logo!

Letterpress Adoption

Just a few days ago, I mentioned in my last video blog how much Bryan and I wanted to find a letterpress. We knew the type we wanted, but finding it was incredibly challenging. Most letterpresses are very, very old - dating back into the 1800s. They're not manufactured anymore, so hunting one down requires a little detective work and a lot of research.

Bryan has always been so incredibly supportive of ELP. He's even been known to help get orders out during peak crunch times. (Think custom wedding programs during LSU/Auburn game). He was always innately part of the ELP team, but will be officially joining me to operate and manage our letterpresses.

Back to the search. We were considering a letterpress in New Jersey and another in North Carolina (they weigh quite a bit and cost a fortune to ship). We'd even discussed flying to these destinations and picking up the presses to drive home to South Florida. Much to our surprise, suddenly a listing was posted on Briar Press from Tampa, Florida (hey neighbor!) I called Bryan. He made the phone call. We drove LITERALLY two miles down the street that we live on... and BAM! we are now the proud owners of not one, but TWO Kelsey Excelsior letterpresses (a 5 x 8 and a 6 x 10). We've spent the better part of our weekend dismantling and cleaning (I now smell of lemon juice and vinegar...mmm...) the presses to get them in prime condition to begin printing ASAP. For now, we plan to keep the larger press and sell the 5 x 8 press once its restored.

We also learned yesterday that our 6 x 10 is a very rare press - one of the oldest of its kind. The counter is stuck at 67,000 impressions - so who knows how many times it's been used.

I'm so excited that Bryan has a piece of ELP all his own - he's babied these presses so much in the few short days we've had them. I have no doubt they'll be working perfectly in the next few days. Letterpress is by far my favorite printing technique. Last year I completed quite a few custom letterpress suites and they're on the top of my favorites list. These photos are of a suite (Italian, hand deckled stock) I recently completed for a beautiful Southern bride getting married next month on a plantation in Mississippi. The new ELP collection will be available in both thermography and letterpress.

Last night we discovered the papers in the top image tucked into the 6 x 10. In this stack was a Yatzee Scorecard, "Trudie's Doodlepad," and "The Rabbit Industry and You." Oh yes, a complete guide to breeding rabbits. And because so many of you asked - yes we did name the presses. The 5 x 8 is Clyde and the 6 x 10 is Thelma (think Bonnie & Clyde meets Thelma & Louise). This ELP adventure has been one of gut instinct and sheer passion - so we thought those names were fitting. We'll update with photos from our restoration this week (including FULL before and after shots).

The World's Cutest Save the Dates

Prepare yourselves . . .

Aside from my ELP collection, I also specialize in custom pieces. When our good friends Joey and McKay asked me to design their wedding suite, I was so excited (and honored! She has the cutest taste). I DEFINITELY cant take all the credit for these PRECIOUS Save the Dates (seriously do you see the looks on their faces???) - McKay was instrumental in putting the design of the piece together. McKay and Joey are getting married in April in Tallahassee at a great outdoor venue called Goodwood Museum & Gardens. McKay is very Anthropology and has such great ideas (speaking of which, I'm going to have to post the world's cutest apron she made me for my birthday last year!!). I cant wait for their big day! Photos of their custom thermography/kraft invitation suite coming soon.

The First 30 Days

It's been thirty days (well, tomorrow... I got antsy and decided to post one day early) since I started making some big steps and gutsy decisions with Emily Ley Paper. It's been thirty days since my MTH experience in Watercolor. I had a great conversation with Gina Zeidler last night about MTH as a lifestyle and how the past 30 days has shaped my day to day. Lara & Jeff's MTH tour has BLOWN up and been the talk-of-the-town. But its not just a trend, MTH has really shifted so many people. And its more than just the event itself... making things happen is what you do after the event. It's really about forging ahead and being fearless and passionate and encouraging and stronger and bigger than you thought possible before.

Here is my 30 day recap. Briggs and Harley have become the "Where's Waldo" of my video blogs. See if you can find them. :)

One day I'm going to figure out how to get YouTube to let ME choose the thumbnail it starts with so Im not making my mid-sentence-goofy-face. I should make a collage of these shots...

Harnessing Passion and Creating a Business

Lately, I have been so blessed to have been on the receiving end of a couple of emails from other passionate professionals looking to follow their big dreams and make them happen. They speak of the same things I experience day to day - an unparalleled desire to harness and focus their creativity, a heart and soul that wants so badly to break free from "what's accepted" and "what's normal," and a sincere helpless feeling when it comes to the business end of a creative business.

So I've created a brief how-to for anyone standing at the edge of the cliff, with a ton of passion, just waiting to put it all to work. But this isnt just a list of what to do :: I hope you read this and think... this is DO-ABLE. I have nothing to lose. I have no good excuses. I have EVERYTHING to gain and I can make this happen.

For about $225 (or more if you see fit), you can set your dream into motion, legally, legitimately and wholeheartedly.

Step 1 :: Lay it all out. ($0)
Grab a cup of coffee. Sit down. Alone. With a notepad and a pen. Write down your dreams. Write down ideas for naming your dream. Write down the ways you're going to monetize your dream. Are you going to create and sell a product? Sell your services? Write a blog? Brainstorm. Picture your brand as an extension of your personality. Is it edgy and bright? Classic and soft? Modern and simple? Consider your name as a brand. Settle on a name that fits you and your product.

Step 2 :: Stake your claim in Internet Land. ($10)
Once you've come up with a name for your company (and trust me, I know how hard this can be), visit to purchase your domain. You may want to buy the .com, .net, .info domains as well. (If you find your domain or a similar domain isnt avaialble, revisit the naming process). After making your purchase, set up your email address (IE: Make sure you create a signature for all of your emails including your name, business name and contact information.

Step 3 :: Obtain a Business License. ($20)
Take your Driver's License and $20 cash to your local Tax Collectors office. Apply for (and receive the same day) a business license.

Step 4 :: If not using your own name, File your DBA. ($50)
If you're not using your own name, you need to file a DBA (Doing Business As) with your state. You'll be listed as "Joe Smith DBA Great Photography" with your state.

Step 5 :: Set up your Business Entity. ($0-$100)
This article is a fantastic resource for explaining the different business entities (Sole Proprietership, LLC and Corporation [Inc]). If you want your company to be a sole proprietorship, you can skip this step. An LLC and Corporation require additional paperwork. Visit your state's Division of Corporations website for more details on how to apply for both. If you're incorporating and wish to be an S-Corp (Emily Ley Paper is an S-Corp) you'll need to use this form to apply with the IRS once you've filed your Articles of Incorporation with your state.

Step 6 :: Apply for state Sales & Use Tax. ($0)
Visit your state's Department of Revenue website. There, you will find details on how to apply for a Sales & Use Tax certificate. This allows you to accept sales tax from your customers and pay it to the state monthly or quarterly.

Step 7 :: Buy Quickbooks accounting software. ($99 - $200)
From the very beginning, invest in top of the line accounting software. I recommend Quickbooks (any of their programs are fantastic). I use Quickbooks for Mac. Quickbooks was not easy for me to use (that doesnt mean it wont be easy for you, though. I'm "math-challenged"). I'd recommend their self paced learning CDs if you need extra help.

Step 8 :: Set up a filing system. ($0 - $10)
Buy a couple folders and set up a filing system for your new licenses, certificates and especially your receipts. Organize your receipts by month. I use an envelope for each month to hold receipts. Jeff Holt told me about a great scanning system called NeatReceipts. I may be looking into this soon. It scans your receipts into your computer and files them for you for easy access and retrieval.

Step 9 :: Build your visual brand. ($50+)
Spend a lot of time on this step. And if you can, invest in this step as well. Even in the very beginining when I only had $50 to work with, I purchased a BluDomain template to launch my very first website. They already had the layout and functionality, I just uploaded my copy and info and my photos. I had a friend help me design my first logo. Rainy Day Templates ($), BluDomain ($$), FloSites ($$$) and my own designers Hi Design ($$$) are all fantastic web/branding designers. But most importantly, your logo needs to be STRONG. Have your web designer design a logo for your name or if you feel so inclined (insert shameless self promotion voice here) contact me for details on my custom logo design services.

Step 10 :: Secure your social networking pages/names. ($0)
Set up a Facebook fan page (dont invite anyone to join just yet). Secure your Twitter name (begin to follow other people in your circle (or that you'd like in your circle). Set up a Skype account to connect with others via video chat. Be sure to add these pages to your email signature.

Step 11 :: Order business cards. ($25 - $250)
Contact your favorite business card designer (click that link, you'll laugh). Or visit your local Kinkos to have business cards printed. You'll need a few hundred to begin. Consider the printing technique most appropriate for your business (letterpress, engraving, thermography, flat).

Step 12 :: DIVE IN. ($0)
Dive head and heart-first into social media. Build strong relationships with others in the industry. Expand your experience and constantly educate yourself on your artform. Take classes. Shadow others. Fall. Let it hurt and LEARN. Read blogs of those you admire. Better yet, REACH OUT to those you admire. Commit yourself to the power of social media. Put customer service #1 on your list of priorities. Grow. Change. Find your voice. Pay it forward. Make things happen.

Step 12 never ends. Keep going with this passion and never let the fire burn out. When it does, unwind yourself and remember that one thing that's at the core of everything you do. It may not be wedding planning. It may not be paper. It may not be photography. It may be something much deeper. Go there and remember why your passion was born.

One of my favorite business blogs :: The Business of Being Creative by Sean Low. Read it.

The steps to surviving the business end of your passion are my own experiences. If you have anything you'd like to add or any changes you'd like to see, please let me know.

I LOVE :: Installment II

I can't begin to tell you how my newfound dedication to my authentic self has changed me. Even today, my husband and I were going to Target and I said "I better change..." My sweet hub said "why, you wear those black tights all the time?" (I do love my black leggings). So, I kept them on and we went to Target. Its small decisions like that - that are so freeing from trying "to be..." or "to appear..." or "to become..." I just am... little ol' Southern, fireball, OCD, laughs-all-the-time, not too fancy me.

So in that same spirit, I've been thinking a lot about my last lifestyle post on things I love for 2010. It occurred to me, shortly after I posted them, that those things are things I treat myself with. Not the joys I surround myself with every day. So this is two-part. Today: Installment #2 of the things I can't live without. Then coming later this week, Installment #3 :: the "non-things" I cant live without (Clue :: one of them is 15lbs, black and white and has a tongue that hangs out 98% of the time bc it doesnt fit in his mouth).

Here are a few things I adore - and I am a firm beleiver in the mantra "you get what you pay for." So while these things are all less than $25 each, they're still top quality.

My entire home is FILLED (and by filled, I mean I get "the look" every time I bring another one home) with these brown wide-mat frames from Target. They're around $15-25 and add a touch of tradition to any photo. We have a couple collage walls in our house (wedding photos GALORE) made from these. Next is, quite possibly, my biggest weakness in life :: Wrights Gourmet House cupcakes. Oh. My. If you ever come to Tampa, you MUST visit this tiny little cafe near the South part of town. Their cakes weigh a TON (real sugar, real butter, whole milk, folks.) but their cupcakes are the perfect size. Peanut butter chocolate is where it's at. And then, my all time FAVE tee (next to the JCrew tee of course) are these Mossimo v-neck pocket tees from Target. Each is $6-8 (!) and I may or may not be wearing a bright pink one (with those black leggings) right now.

My husband just informed me this next group has two adult-beverages in it. Ha! Well, try them both - just not on the same day. Cupcake wine is our absolute favorite wine - especially their Cabernet. We buy a bottle of two every other weekend from a local wine shop. It's made in California and is $10! (Publix is carrying it now). It is so good, so smooth and so affordable. It's won multiple awards in its category at wine festivals around the world. Next is my ever-handy Crystal Light-Lightly Lemon. I have made a pact with myself to drink more water. This is how I do it. And last but not least in my adult-beverage duo is Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. I just had to include this because of how truly Southern it is. Firefly + a little water + a giant lemon + a little ice = a great sweet tea cocktail.

I don't know about you guys, but South Florida has seen a crazy winter. I dont know what my poor lips would do without Burt's Bees. I have about 4 of these stuck in random purses and pockets (even in my car). It's minty and stays on a long time. Body & Soul magazine is my new favorite - and just so happens to be published by Martha Stewart. I've always been very interested in nutrition and the way our bodies react to foods, nutrients, etc. Body and Soul explores "clean living" (less environmental footprint, more organic eating, more mind/body/soul nourishment). And lastly, one of my must-haves. I buy a couple of these throughout the year. Growing up, my mom always had a Yankee Candle in our kitchen - honeydew melon. The smell takes me back home. My fragrance of choice for our home is vanilla lime. Its clean, fresh and a little sweet.

What are the things you love to have around you? Both things and "non-things"?

Finding My Voice

I’m learning that my focus and my business is very two-fold :: as a designer and as a teacher/encourager. Growing in each of those areas requires me to define my brand by finding my voice (teacher/ encourager/ blogger) and refining my signature style (designer).

Both of these take a lot of time and a lot of practice, but eventually your voice emerges and begins to solidify. I spent the later part of 2008 and all of 2009 really defining my “style” as an artist. In the beginning, I created all types of invitations and stationery – from the very ornate to the bare minimal. Somewhere along the way (perhaps as I narrowed down the 49 suites I designed for my 16 suite collection) I discovered what I find to be most beautiful :: minimal, traditional, quality, fresh Southern style. My style will always shift, change and grow as a designer, but finding that “sweet spot” felt so good after sleepless nights and hours upon HOURS staring at Illustrator.

Now, I’m discovering my voice as a blogger. The more I stay true to my core (to what FIRES me up) the more comfortable I find myself producing/conceptualizing good content (and good designs, for that matter). I find that my network grows, comments on the blog increases and ELP gets more and more inquiries from brides and other wedding professionals looking to partner with a good designer or ask questions of someone else making this journey. All this to say that when I am faced with a decision (HUGE or teeny), I have made myself a promise to measure it against one thing :: does it serve my “mission” as "Emily Ley"? Sure, you typically hear “mission” associated with a business or a non-profit-organization, but as a professional, you should define your very own mission as well. My mission/goal/promise (whatever you’d like to call it) consists of a couple of things:

1. To be as real and authentic as possible, even when its uncomfortable.
2. To stay true to my Southern heritage as a designer :: less is more; “classy” never goes out of style.
3. To push myself constantly, always, forever. The. End.
4. To stay focused on what FIRES ME UP :: my love and PASSION to BUILD a family, a home, a business, a brand and MOST importantly – other people UP.

If I measure each opportunity, partnership, relationship, idea, design and post against those four things, I have a pretty good feeling it’ll keep me on my path towards my big dreams, help me stay sane (always a plus), and help fill my days with joy and adventure.

MTH2010 :: See you in Atlanta!

I am so crazy excited, bursting at the seems, ridiculously honored to announce that I'll be a guest speaker at the Making Things Happen intensive in Atlanta on February 8! I got the call from Lara and literally squealed right in her ear when she asked if I'd join her. I'm so excited to continue this journey with MTH and meet so many of you that I've tweeted, emailed and chatted with over the past four weeks.

As you already know, MTH made a huge impact on me, my business and, to be very honest, my life in general. I can honestly say I approach every decision, every conversation and every situation a little differently since December 21. MTH was my chance to get real with myself, own each of my strengths and weaknesses and realize what was at the heart of my business - the desire to BUILD a family, a home, a business, a brand and most importantly - other people up. I'd announce this with a video blog if I had a lick of makeup on right now [transparent... but not that transparent ;) ] but I want you to know how excited I am to take this next BIG step and be there with the ATL MTH class as you take yours.

I just cannot sit still. MTH inspired our class to do so much. It not only moved me to take big steps with my business, but to let all of you in - in a very real and authentic way - while I travel this journey. I am so honored to be doing this. I cannot wait to meet all of you in Atlanta. I'd love to hear from some of you that'll be there. Email me here if you'd like to say hello. Trust me, allow MTH to change you and it will. I can't even imagine how my second MTH will move me. The journey continues . . .

Check out the new MTH website here!

Custom Designed Monograms

Since I started Emily Ley Paper, I've fallen madly in love with the concept of using a monogram to "brand" and bring consistency to a wedding. The can adorn everything from Save the Dates to Invitations to thank you notes to cocktail napkins (and just about everything in between). The new website will feature a collection of wedding suites (invitations, response cards, save the dates, thank you notes, menus, programs, and monograms) designed around a "logo" or monogram for your each wedding. The monogram can be used on any DIY project you might be undertaking OR sent via email to a professional printer or vendor creating pieces for you.

Also, it will include information on my custom design services - including custom designed monograms (the designs above are part of the new collection and may be purchased and personalized with your details and color).

More details soon on how I personally used a monogram in my own wedding (including a peak at my very own big day thanks to two of my favorite people on earth : Meg & Charles from Meg Baisden Photography). In the meantime, if you're interested in custom design services, contact me here or for a custom designed monogram, purchase one here.

The Game Has Changed

Over the past few weeks, I have had more humbling, "aha!" moments than I can even count. I've been working feverishly to conquer 2010 right out of the gate. The website and blog are full-steam-ahead and will be launched the first week in February (go here if you're interested in submitting). In this video blog, I tackle the concepts from Crush It - and how they (coupled with my experience at MTH2010) have changed the game for me - including one, incredibly surprising email.

It's coffee and blanket time. I apparently love to talk. Almost 10 minutes long.

Also check out this awesome video from Socialnomics. Really puts it all in perspective.

Be sure to check out Lara's blog tomorrow where she'll be announcing the MTH First Class Scholarship winner! Watch out to whoever-that-may-be :: your game is about to change too.

Go here to purchase the Crush It audiobook!

Paying It Forward

I am a firm believer in the power of a thank you note. The tiniest things (like a sweet, simple handwritten thank you note) can make the biggest impact. The theory goes hand in hand with a lesson I’ve been learning the past few weeks. I remember being really young and my Mom teaching me about the “random acts of kindness”. Essentially, when someone else was least expecting it – and sometimes, for no good reason at all, you’d do something to bring value to that person, to encourage them or to lift them up – even if you weren’t sure they really needed it.

This is sometimes hard to do – especially when we get busy and bogged down in the details of our day-to-day. At MTH, Jeff Holt talked about the theory of bringing value to other people – even without expecting something in return. As a new business owner, I thought this idea was really interesting. It’s easy to ask for help from those around you as you are starting out – and thank them, sincerely, for their thoughtfulness. But what about the opposite?

What if, as a new business owner/entrepreneur/etc, you offer what you can bring to the table to someone else? This thought intrigued me a bit. I haven’t been in this industry for ten or even five years, but I do have a skill-set that is pretty strong. Who’s to say I can’t use that skill set to bring value to someone else rather than asking for the opposite? And without expecting anything in return? I’m a strong writer. I can talk the Trademark process up and DOWN. Even after one year, I KNOW what really really good custom service is. I know how to ensure that every bride feels and KNOWS that they are my TOP priority. And I am a good fundraiser. Yep, I have almost 6 years fundraising experience.

That’s where the MTH First Class Scholarship came into play. The brilliant Christopher Confero sent me a DM on Twitter about a tweet I’d just sent out. He wondered if that person needed help attending MTH, he wanted to help send them there. What an idea… I thought. So we talked about it for a bit. And rather than waiting or planning we got started. 48 hours, 17 donors and $710 later – The MTH First Class Scholarship was complete. And one pro’s life is about to be changed. As a scholarship recipient and a true, sincere, wholehearted believer in MTH and in Lara and Jeff – I knew I wanted to pay it forward. So by fusing my fundraising skills and Christopher’s obvious Southern charm and communication skills (not to mention an Army of Twitter friends) we made it happen.

Come full circle and there have been so many times in the past few weeks that I have been moved, encouraged and inspired to the point of disbelief. I’ve been reached out to, emailed and even had the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers show up at my door last night… from people who want to say “I believe in what you’re doing. Keep doing it.” I am so humbled by the kind words I’ve received from complete strangers, people I admire (and didnt even know they knew my name) and people who just felt the need to give a pat on the back.

So last night, I sat down at my computer and decided to do something that I hope will become a daily habit – reach out to a couple people who’ve been on my mind to let them know how much I believe in them. And not in a random “You can do it!” type of way – but in a sincere, heartfelt, “I know its not always easy but you will. Go. Far.” Type of way. The idea of paying it forward – coupled with a spirit of authenticity and genuine thanks is one I hope fills MY days and my works during 2010.

* The MTH First Class Scholarship application ends tonight at midnight! The winner will be announced by Lara on Monday.

Image from 100 Layer Cake

A Big Moment for Me

Do you have any moments that stand out in your head? Not events or hours or conversations – but moments when something just CLICKS? I’ve had a couple of them in my life – one in particular on December 21 of last year. Wes Leytham was right there to catch it. It was the moment above. I laughed when I first saw this photo, because of the look on my face. I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud.” Part of what made MTH so changing for me was that Lara and Jeff really encouraged everyone to GET real and BE honest. Not on paper, not later after the event, but right there – right then – in front of everyone. Yes, there were tears – in fact, I think mine came seconds after this photo was taken. That kind of honesty is hard. But everyone in the room just let their guard down and let it all spill.

At this moment, I was saying “My biggest fear… is falling. Failure. I just don’t.” I meant it too. My entire life, I’ve worked my tail off to get what I want. And about 99% of the time, if I worked crazy hard and crazy long – I won. Now that I’m almost 27, I’m learning (in quite a few ways) that life just doesn’t always work that way. Truth be told, three days before MTH, I received a Cease and Desist letter from another company operating under the name Good Paper. My first instinct, when I received the letter, was to fight it as hard as I could (because that’s how you win, right?). I’d done everything right – filed two trademark applications (which had passed through all the necessary research and approval and were due to be REGISTERED just 24 hours later) and hired a trademark manager to manage the process. I knew in my heart that I had every right to that name – that I would win. So, I immediately hired an intellectual property attorney. He started doing the initial research. and told me that yes, I may win – but the battle could be a long and expensive one. Again, I was ready to fight. I had worked an entire YEAR – paying every penny I made through my business to an amazing web/branding designer who had built a website/blog around this name. It was (IS!) incredible. I wasn’t going to lose that. But more importantly, I’d promoted my name to my clients – to my friends – even built a reputation around it on Etsy.

I wasn’t going to fail. Because I DON’T fail.

During a break at MTH, I checked my email on my iPhone. An email came through from my Attorney – “Emily, we may lose this.” Again, he brought up a few points that made my registration look bleak. All of the energy and renewal I felt from the first part of MTH felt shaky. I suddenly felt embarrassed (besides, I’d even introduced myself to the MTH group and to Lara as ‘Emily Ley – owner/designer of Goodpaper’). How would I explain this? How would I tell all my friends and clients that I’d failed? Everything I’d worked for – for an entire year. I was embarrassed.

It was Jeff Holt and Kyle Barnes who initially said – over wine and sushi after MTH – while others were having their one-on-one time with Lara… “What is Goodpaper? Why aren’t you using your name?” (I laughed a little… they didn’t know the bad news that had just come my way – they also didn’t know that I originally started my company as Emily Ley Paper, but changed it to Goodpaper midyear). I couldn’t answer that question – other than the fact that I had this ridiculously strong brand that was going to be unveiled and it was GOODPAPER. Then, I had my time with Lara. She said the same thing. She encouraged me to take my name, my personality – to the next level. It was right then, that I realized, that my BRAND wasn’t strong because it was Goodpaper. It was strong because it was an sincere extension of myself. Simple. Classic. Fresh. And most importantly, very Southern.

It was like I finally took a breath in that moment and realized… it is OKAY to fail. I have failed at this Trademark – for many reasons. And everyone will ask what happened – and why didn’t it work out – and what was wrong with the Goodpaper name – and some people may even like that better. But that would be okay. Because by focusing on what FIRES me up – my love to BUILD (a home, a family, a business, a brand – and other people up) – would be my end-all-be-all focus. And nothing about my brand would change, other than my willingness to drop the weight of the name and OWN it as an extension of myself.

The very next day, I abandoned both trademark applications. I let my attorney know. I began the name change process. And I made the announcement to my friends and clients (subtly) that Emily Ley Paper was making a comeback. The way it was received assured me I was doing the right thing. And by being honest, I was sticking to my PROMISE to be authentic. And you know what… it felt good. It felt good, for the first time in my life, to fall. Because what was waiting for me when I hit the floor and felt the embarrassment and pain of losing so much money – was support for everything about my business that ISNT in my name – my dedication to my clients, the quality of the materials I use, my personality, and my strong belief in my design.

* Photos by Wes Leytham of Rae Leytham Photography.

Tweet, what?

I plan to use this blog for storytelling - to tell the story of a Southern girl who's intent on doing-it-all-being-it-all. I'll be honest, sometimes juggling it all does me in. But the challenge is part of the fun. When I launch my new blog, I'll tell you all my entire story. But for now :: a couple of things that have really changed me and the way I operate

Last night, my sweet husband, Bryan, said to me "Babe, I love you . . . But will you please explain all of this tweet-tweet-post-tweet-re-tweet?" I have not laughed that hard in a long time.

Twitter is really foreign to people who dont use it. So, I walked him through my TweetDeck. He's been in sales for YEARS, so he had a hard time understanding why this is important to my business. It's all about CONNECTIONS I told him - about building relationships and keeping up with what's going on in the industry.

Granted, when I started using Twitter a few months ago, I had a hard time understanding exactly HOW to use it. I took the same approach as Bryan - how do I drive sales with this? I posted a couple of Etsy sales I was having or my occasional blog post. But it seemed very ONE way to me. I thought "How do I use this for my business?" It's important to know that Twitter (and alll social media, for that matter) is designed to CONNECT - connect people/people, people/information. The connections made (and relationships built) on Twitter will bring value to your business - as you bring value to others.

It wasn't until I started understanding Twitter's abbreviations/symbols (ie: RT, @) and hashtags (ie: #FF) that I really understood exactly HOW to interact with others. Twitter has a great FAQ page that explains following, mentioning, retweeting, hashtags, etc. But here are a few quick tips for the newbie trying to figure it out:

RT :: Retweet or repost :: LOVE THIS! RT @Username Guess what! @EmilyLey is designing my invitations!
@ :: Precedes every person’s username :: @EmilyLey
# :: Hashtag – This precedes any topic you’d like to “tag” your tweet with. Hashtags categorize tweets so that they are searchable :: Guess what! @Emilyley is designing my wedding invitations! #weddings” – OR - Guess what! @Emilyley is designing my wedding invitations! #TheyreGoingToBeAwesome!
D :: Direct Message – Send someone a private message by typing a “D” before their name. It will go directly to them and wont be listed in your public timeline of tweets :: D @EmilyLey do you offer square, ivory letterpress invitations?
#FF :: Follow Friday – this is a common hashtag. #FF stands for Follow Friday. Post your favorite people to follow on Fridays :: FF @SkyDiver @LaraCase @Mashable

  • Post “I’m so hungover” or “Oh no, I left my front door unlocked and we’re halfway to Canada!” – These are not smart or safe things to make public. Keep your reputation (and your valuables) in mind.
  • Tweet only to promote yourself. People will lose interest. Interact with others – be interested in what they’re doing, tweeting, etc. Twitter is about building relationships and sharing information.
  • Use those crazy “Get one THOUSAND followers now!” services. They require you to follow a ton of other people – and who wants 1,000 random followers who aren’t really CHOOSING to follow you anyways? Eek.
  • Thank people for retweeting your posts. Just like you’d thank someone for passing on your information in person. Retweeting is like referring others to you.
  • Use the Direct Message feature to have private conversations with friends. Not everything should be aired on Twitter.
  • Use free services like Tweetdeck and HootSuite to make Twitter more easy to understand. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing until I started using Tweetdeck.
  • Use free services like TwitPic and TinyURL to shorten your URLs (remember, you only have 140 characters to use) and post links to your photos (note :: TweetDeck & HootSuite do this for you if you use their applications).
  • Post links to photos, good blog posts, articles, cool websites and your blog in your Tweets. People want to know more about you than just your 140 characters.
  • Promote (by "mentioning" their username) people you admire, who give good service and who promote you as well. Twitter is one of the greatest resources for referrals.
Like anything, getting involved is half the battle. Retweet what you think others would like to read. Reply to others posts. Don’t be shy. One of my favorite bloggers, Liene, of Think Splendid wrote a great post on Twitter for wedding pros. Twitter has (and I’m sure will continue to be) monumental for me. I’ve connected with people I’d otherwise never have the opportunity to “meet” or get to know. Use it right, consistently and with proper etiquette and you’ll find it to be a VERY VALUABLE tool for you and your business. And if you haven’t read it yet, pick up Gary Vaynerchuck’s CRUSH IT. It’s all about social media and how to use it to your advantage to seriously make things happen.

New Beginnings

January is one of my favorite months of the year. There's so much enthusiasm, so much opportunity and all kinds of possibilities to come. My resolution this year is to make resolutions that I can actually stick to - things that are inherently important to me and achievable. More on goal planning to come. But another reason I love January is because it is an opportunity to START fresh. I really want my new (soon!) blog to be a reflection of me - not just Emily Ley Paper - but of a Southern girl living a Southern life trying to "doitallbeitall." So I thought I'd share a few of my FAVORITE things as we start a brand new year.

J.Crew is one of my most favorite places. Ever. A little 2010 goodness showed up in my mailbox today. At left are the new metallic leather Sperry Top-Siders. Sperry's are some of my favorite weekend shoes. They're cute, comfortable, casual and now (thanks to J.Crew) super chic. Even though it doesn't get blow 32 degrees in Tampa, every girl's got to have a cute coat - enter the Wool Harbor Peacoat. Just ask my mom, I bought a FAB coat from Ann Taylor LOFT when I was home for the holidays. Why? I needed it. Because one day. I might. Travel somewhere. Cold. Perhaps. Next - J.Crew perfect fit tees - I own 10. They're super comfy, not super tight, not super loose and fit just right (not to mention SUPER affordable and great quality).

For Christmas, my sweet aunt gave me this amazing Citron Hand Therapy from Crabtree & Evelyn. Its one of my new favorite products ever. It smells so fresh and makes your hands so soft (without the greasiness - not a fan of greasiness). Besides shoes, purses are a girl's (this girl's) best friend. I'm a huge Dooney & Burke fan. When B and I went to New York, we found the Dooney there and I went a little nuts. I only bought one purse but they were all on SALE!! They're so durable, very classic and come in fresh colors. These Tiffany Beaded Earrings are my go-tos almost every day. They're as classic as pearls and go with everything. I own three of these little beads. One for backup in case I lose one. But that's not on purpose :) I lost one one time and B saved the day my following birthday with a new pair.

I am in LOVE with Sharpie Pens. I carry these with me everywhere. They're perfect for writing on every type of paper and come in a great selection of colors. I prefer pens that are thin (small hands) so these are the way to go. Moleskin journals are a new obsession of mine. I have a love affair with kraft paper (as you'll see on the new website) so the kraft Moleskin journals are my fave. I keep one in my purse every day now. Stamped across the front are the words Making It Happen. Thanks, Lara :) And last but not least - the Live What You Love letterpress print from Hijirik on Etsy. Most of all, I love that phrase. But, I also love letterpress. A lot. (one day I will own one).

Living what I love is becoming a constant theme in my goals for 2010. Instead of resolutions, I've set goals for myself. Blogging consistently is one of them. I'll share them all with you down the road. Thanks again to all the supporters of the MTH First Class Scholarship. Twitter was all a flutter with MTH support over the past 48 hours. $710 later, something big is about to happen to a wedding pro. Get ready whoever-you-are, you're about to be changed.


A giant, sincere thank you to all 17 donors who made the MTH First Class Scholarship possible.  And another giant, sincere thank you to all of our Twitter friends who helped spread the word.  Proof that passionate people pulled together can do BIG things. 

48 hours.  17 donors.  $710.  1 life changed.  MTH2010.

Visit Lara Casey's blog to see how to apply.

The MTH "First Class" Scholarship

Christopher Confero and I were chatting via Twitter tonight and came up with a BIG idea :: to pull together as the charter class of Making Things Happen and send one person to another MTH2010 with a "MTH FIRST CLASS SCHOLARSHIP." So many of us (myself included) were so fortunate to be chosen as scholarship recipients. That meant the world to me. Perhaps we can make that difference for someone else.

So in the spirit of paying it forward, we'd like to ask each of you to contribute to the MTH First Class Scholarship fund using the "Donate" button below. Your contribution will go to a PayPal account and the lump sum will be sent to Lara Casey to award to the recipient of her choice. I'll keep updating the amount so that we all know how much has been raised to date. UPDATE: We've had many contributions from outside the first class of MTH - if you were not part of the first class, but would like to help us MAKE BIG THINGS HAPPEN for another pro, please feel free to make a contribution below!

If you have any questions - post them here. Let's MAKE THIS HAPPEN for another deserving pro! Thank you all for your support! UPDATE: Read Lara Casey's Making Things Happen Vol 2 post for more details on MTH2010 and the MTH First Class Scholarship selection process. Contribution opporutnity will close Thursday at midnight. Application process will close Friday at midnight. Lara will announce the winner on Monday, January 11!

GOAL :: $700
RAISED :: $710!

Thank you, sincerely - on behalf of the MTH2010 Watercolor Class - to all 17 donors who contributed to this scholarship!  And thank you to all our Twitter friends who passed this around and helped MAKE THIS HAPPEN!  So excited for the pro this will change.