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Interview | Emily Ley Paper + Emily Lay Creative

Today’s interview is very close to my heart, as it comes from an amazing woman whom I’ve come to know in the past year and grown very fond of her and her work. Emily Ley owns Emily Lay Paper, a stationery design company that makes fine, elegant papers out of Tempa, Florida.  ELP offers a clean, polished look rooted in the Southern tradition. How did ELP get started? Well, in Emily’s words “When Emily was just a pig-tailed five-year-old, she looked forward to the special notes from her Mom that sat between her turkey sandwich and juice box – in her lunch box, of course.” 
To me however, Emily Ley is just the girl next door! Join me, as I ask her to share her thoughts and experience in balancing creative work and family.


{1} Tell us about ELP + ELC.
I started Emily Ley Paper back in 2008 – out of a sincere love for design and a desire to really utilize my creative abilities and interests. In the beginning, I worked full time at a University and managed ELP during the wee hours. I took every project I could and quickly grew the company from a handmade start-up to a fine stationery collection sold in retail stores nationwide. ELC (Emily Ley Creative) was born just a year later – when I realized the reason I loved working on weddings so much was because I loved the way design could tell a story. I wanted to help other professionals tell THEIR personal stories through their brands. Right now, things are wonderful. I’ve just added a fabulous “Client Concierge” to the ELP/ELC team and am really focusing my time on design.



Above : Samples of Emily’s work, wedding suites and branding…

{2} What’s a typical day like for you?
Now or in four weeks? :) Baby Ley (Brady Dennis Ley, who we nicknamed Bman) will be born in mid-February. Or so we think. Now, my days begin around 10am (I like to take care of my personal things – the gym, my house, appointments – in the morning and get started with a clear head once other tasks are off my plate. I start by creating a to-do list for my day – before checking my email. My day can be a little sporadic with lots going on, but I’ve learned tricks and tips to keep my processes and workflows streamlined – and provide the best possible client experience.  Many times, I turn off my email and work, then turn it on when I’m finished and ready to respond to waiting emails. This way I’m not distracted and can give my clients my full attention.


Above : Photographs of Emily’s work space. I am particularly fond of her white desk.

{3} Where does your inspiration come from?
Oh wow, all over. Magazines (House Beautiful is a new favorite), fabrics… I actually don’t get a lot of inspiration from blogs. In fact, there are only a handful that I read on a weekly basis. I try to keep my head as clear as possible to really allow those “creative juices” to flow.


{4} You’re about to become a mother. How are you envisioning to balance creative work and motherhood?
Great question. Got any tips? Just as I’ve planned for Brady’s arrival into our family the last 9 months, I’ve also planned his arrival into my DAY the last 9 months. Right now my day is all work. When he arrives, I want to be able to devote a great amount of time to him – hence my focus on streamlining, adding to the ELP/ELC team and really minimalizing the steps it takes for me to complete my workflows. I had a huge realization over the holidays this year… 2010 was the year I poured my heart and soul into my businesses. 2011 will be the year I give myself to my family. By doing so, I’ll be a better designer for my clients. I’m learning it’s so important to take care of yourself – your body, mind, spirit, family, etc – in order to give yourself fully to others.


I love the inspirational board featured above as well as the cards display!

{5} When you aren’t hard at work, what can we find you doing?
Spending entirely too much money at Pottery Barn. It’s literally a stone’s throw from my house. Dangerous. Kidding. I love exploring Tampa – finding those privately-powned niche restaurants, reading, travelling (a new-found love for me) and getting Brady’s nursery ready for him!

{6} What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a PERFECT day… But rather an ideal day. My ideal day includes just a couple of things: family, laughing with my (ridiculously hilarious) husband Bryan, encouraging/helping others, time for myself (be it a bath, a walk, a workout, a shopping trip, coffee with a girlfriend) and a phone call with my Mom. We talk everyday. She’s pretty great.

{7} What makes you smile?
Bman’s dances and frog kicks. Hitting the nail on the head for a client – after twenty rounds of ideas or two. Witnessing transformation in others. Clean, beautiful, minimal design. Text messages from my best girlfriends. Realizing God knows what He’s doing even though I think I can plan it better.

{8} what’s next for ELP + ELC?
This year is going to be amazing. Lara Casey and I launched MAKING BRANDS HAPPEN  in November. It’s full speed ahead and we’re adding new options very soon. This is COMPREHENSIVE branding – both strategic and visual. It’s totally full circle and involved and really fires me up. I’m also working on a really fantastic project for stationers. Can’t spill the beans just yet, but it’s something else I’m really excited about. ELP is introducing a Baby Collection and new Wedding Collection this year as well!


Thank you Emily for sharing bits of your creative world with us today! 
You can read more stories from amazing women entrepreneurs HERE

Visit Emily’s blog, her Facebook fan page and follow her on Twitter.

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