About Emily: Emily Ley was born and raised on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, Marketing and Administration, she founded Emily Ley Paper in 2008 with a big dream, a stack of Crane lettra and a penchant for good ol' Southern monograms. Now, Emily Ley Paper is a sought-after brand featuring fresh, personalized stationery and gift products designed to help busy women find joy and simplicity. Emily has been featured in Martha Stewarts “Dreamers into Doers," Glamour.com, Southern Weddings Magazine and Blog, Stationery Trends Magazine, as well as on Style Me Pretty, Oh So Beautiful Paper and numerous other wide-reaching blogs. Emily is passionate about her work with Emily Ley Creative - as a coach to budding designers, a big dreamer with Making Things Happen and brand designer with Making Brands Happen - her partnership with Making Things Happen founder and luxury wedding market consultant, Lara Casey.
Emily now resides in South Florida with her husband, Bryan and son, Brady. Her love for a good cappucino, all things Southern and the perfect monogram is only trumped by her fascination with sweet Brady Ley born February 16, 2011.
Making Things Happen stirred my heart and ignited my passion. It set my feet on a course of authenticity that has led me on adventures I still can’t believe. In late 2009, after starting a small stationery business, I attended the first Making Things Happen in Watercolor, Florida. During that intensive, I learned that I’d lost a very expensive trademark battle over my business name. My goal had been to build the “image” of a large company (though it was just me!), to portray perfection at every turn. I was devastated. But the warmth and spirit of openness in the room - paired with Lara’s encouragement to dream bigger, embrace my personal brand and tell my authentic story - led me to rename my company after myself: Emily Ley Paper. I also named the one word that to this day defines everything that fires me up and fills my heart to the brim: building. I am most full building culture around brands, building beautiful products for women, building traditions for my family, building a loving home inside my house and building up others so that they too can pursue the work that sets their hearts ablaze. The members of the very first MTH class, Lara included, have become some of my closest friends. It’s been a joy to support each other as we navigate the road less traveled. After leaving MTH that night, I hurried home and posted my very first video blog - owning (thereby letting go of!) my need to embody and portray perfection. From that moment, my life was never the same. I started embracing my imperfections and sharing my journey with others. Traffic to my blog increased daily. I started to be more comfortable in my own skin and ran wild with the goals I set for myself and my business in Watercolor. I learned to let go a little more each day - even laugh at myself from time to time. In February 2010, I received a beautiful, encouraging email from Whitney English Kolb - who’d unknowingly been my “stationery-idol” for some time. I was floored. She’d found my blog through Twitter and was impressed with my rare dedication to authenticity. She wanted to wish me well in the stationery industry and offered her support. Just a few months later, she offered me the opportunity to debut my stationery collection at The National Stationery Show in NYC. Again, my life was changed. After a successful debut (which resulted in my collection being carried in stores and boutiques nationwide), my husband and I made the scary, yet strategic decision for me to leave my full-time job and pursue my passions. Weeks later, Lara invited me to travel with her and help facilitate future Making Things Happen intensives. Hundreds of new friends later, Making Things Happen is a community I’m immensely proud to be part of. Lara Casey, Gina Zeidler, Natalie Norton and I now travel and share our stories with other big dreamers. Lara and I started Making Brands Happen - a holistic approach to personal branding that builds businesses from the ground up. Perhaps my proudest achievement is my son, Brady Ley. The marriage between life as a mother, a wife and a designer has been my proudest, most difficult, exciting, amazing adventure of my life. I’ve learned that by sticking to the authenticity and imperfections I learned to embrace at that first Making Things Happen - and holding myself to a standard of grace not perfection - anything is possible.
Best advice to others on how to make things happen: Commit yourself to authenticity and hold steadfast to your core. Always keep your priorities in line and everything else will fall into place. Give and give often. Nothing makes me feel more whole.
The biggest thing I learned from MTH is that there is power in each of us. Sometimes it's covered with fear and doubt and unreasonable expectations, but it is there and it is big. I’ve learned that those who are successful in the biggest ways possible are teachers and givers. I’ve always believed that we should fill our days - the short days we have here - with things that make our hearts sing. We make such an impact on the world when we use our best abilities and talents to give back, to share and to teach. And when we’re able to marry together our personal goals, our professional goals and the things that set our hearts ablaze… well, that is true success.
Before MTH, I never thought I’d do something that made my heart sing in such an enormous way. I never thought I’d meet so many other passionate people who dreamed of breaking the mold and taking ownership of their lives. I never thought I’d meet so many mothers who dreamed of being more for their families by pursuing their goals and filing their days with work that utilized the best of themselves - thus filling up their cup so that they can give even more to the ones they love.
What’s ahead for me: My deepest desire is to be an example to mothers. To show mothers around the world that it is possible to do it all. To show other mothers that by simplifying our lives and committing ourselves to our most precious values, we can be happier, give more and show our children that they can be anything in the world they dream. I dream of teaching more, sharing more, inspiring more, building more. Making Brands Happen sets my heart on fire. I dream of showing my son that his mother dreamed big and made enormous things happen for herself and others - but all the while held steadfast to her commitment as a mom who plays on the floor and has time to finger paint on a Tuesday afternoon. I am holding myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. I am whole.