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.


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...........


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.


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...