Meet the Maker: Meg Sutton of Belle & Union Co.

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union


Today we’re excited to introduce you to Meg Sutton, who founded Belle & Union back in 2011. Now run by Meg and her husband Josh, Belle & Union is well-known in the maker community for their letterpress prints, handmade wrappings, and gorgeous housewares. Brimming with old-fashioned American wit, wisdom and style, all Belle & Union goods are made 100% in the U.S. (no really, 100 PERCENT). Thanks so much for joining us, Meg… we’re thrilled to share your story!


LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Meg: After working for a year as a graphic designer in an advertising agency, I was not feeling fulfilled creatively. I had worked in a boutique shop in downtown Savannah, Georgia, where I fell in love with letterpress. After finding a press in an antique mall in Florida, I quit my job and began designing my collection. One year later we launched at the National Stationery Show and the rest, as they say, is history.


LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Meg: As with most creatives, I had on rose-colored glasses about entrepreneurship – believing my days would be filled with doodling and product development. I quickly learned that having a business is 10% creative and 90% wearing all of the other hats related to actually running a business.


Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union


LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Meg: We started out mainly as a paper goods company, but grew to add a variety of kitchen items and housewares. We believe in creating small-batch, hand-crafted artisan goods from American materials. We’ve found our niche in the foodie market, so many of our goods have that twist, whether that is through letterpress printed greeting cards with food puns, screen-printed tea towels with food patterns, or actual cooking elements like hand-carved utensils for your kitchen.


LBC: Walk us through your typical workday.

Meg: No day is typical! Being an entrepreneur is a lot of fire-fighting – if I am not putting one out, I am probably starting one. I read once to make a list of 5-6 things the night before, so you can hit the ground running in the morning. It has really changed my workflow and allowed me to be more productive. I can usually accomplish on a Monday and Tuesday what used to take me all week, just by being thoughtful and intentional about what needs to be accomplished. No day is typical, but each usually has emails, some sort of work on new product development, supply chain management, production, and order fulfillment.


LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Meg: 1) Finances. Know your numbers from day one. You may not like them, and may need help doing them, but you need to make sure you are actually making money and pricing your products correctly.

2) When you do launch, what is going to make your product different? Being handmade or illustrated isn’t enough anymore. Within our industry, the market is flooded with hundreds if not thousands of greeting card designers, so we had to differentiate ourselves from the crowd.

3) That leads to the third thing, and most important: You need to know your “why.” If you just want to make pretty things, that isn’t enough. Running a business is hard work; there is a grind day in and day out, and some days will be tough. It isn’t all doodling and flexible scheduling. Staying true to your “why” and connecting it with your purpose is what will keep you going.


Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Meg: If we can help bring joy to someone, be a light in their day – that’s why we do what we do. The memories we awaken in others with our hand-crafted gifts, or a handwritten note from a loved one – we are helping to create treasured moments in people’s lives. Staying focused on this mission of connecting generations past and present is why we do what we do, and what keeps us going each day.


LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Meg: From the beginning, it was important to me that all of the products that we make or have made for us be 100% American made – from the materials to the final production. It’s taken a lot of extra effort, especially with textiles, to oftentimes create our own supply chains. For example, our tea towels took almost a year to develop, from working directly with the West Texas farmers to start, reserving our cotton (much of American cotton is sent overseas for production), to it being loomed in the Carolinas, to finally being stitched and then screen-printed in Georgia. It was a massive undertaking with lots of research and sampling. But now that the chain is established, we can rely on it and know that our quality is the best it can be. For us, our commitment to American made is something we can truly stand behind – knowing we are helping to establish and continue jobs stateside and that our goods are of artisan quality.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Meg: When I was first preparing to launch, I had saved every penny from custom work to fund our booth at the National Stationery Show in New York City. It took literally every dime I had to launch at that show – and we were received so incredibly well, far beyond what I had dreamed. What I hadn’t thought through (again, know your numbers!) is what it would actually cost to produce all of that product that I had just sold. After calculating it out, it was going to be around $25,000 to create all of the inventory I needed to fulfill orders. After several breakdowns, I pulled myself together and made it work. Now I always make sure to take the time to know exactly how much everything is going to cost start-to-finish before we get too far down the road.


Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union


LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Meg: Over the years we have created a few products that specifically give back to Veteran causes. Having seen firsthand how difficult military life can be (my husband spent 6 years in the United States Army), it was important to give back to the men and women who give so much for our country. One way we honor them is by our commitment to American made goods, but we have gone above and beyond that by donating money to various support groups to help Veterans and their families.


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Meg: 1) We have an online inventory management system that is the control center for all of our orders – our wholesale orders are manually input, and our website orders automatically filter in. It allows us to keep everything in order, and anyone can check and see the status of an order or inventory at any given time. Organization is key in running a smooth operation, and having this platform set-up from the beginning has been a huge factor in keeping us efficient.

2) I highly recommend getting an accountant from the beginning. Even if you run everything yourself, having that person to double check your work is invaluable. We didn’t start with one, and made a mistake where we weren’t filing the proper employee taxes for a few years. That was not a fun or cheap error that could have been caught early on if we had that system of checks and balances with finances.

3) We recently completed work on our “business bible” (it only took five years!). Even when you are starting out, I think it is important to set this up early on. Put down on paper how things work – the proper way to package products, fulfill an order, etc – it’s your operations manual. By having it down on paper, when you do go to hire, you can easily hand that document over to someone and all of the expectations and how-to’s for the business are right there in black and white. It is easy to think in the beginning it isn’t necessary, but it only takes a few minutes to record your process in that moment, than to try and go back and do everything all at once. We have to treat our small businesses like big businesses from day one.


LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Meg: In 2018, we are launching our flagship brick-and-mortar location, which will be our biggest adventure to date. As part of the shop, which will also house our studio, we plan to offer workshops, everything from letterpress printing to hand-lettering, and even a quarterly supper club. We want to create community with our supporters, encouraging people to slow down and enjoy the sweet moments in life, gathered ’round a table filled with smiles and laughter. In a few years, I hope to find the shop thriving in this new journey.


Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union


LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Meg: Something sweet. I have a terrible sweet tooth that is constantly getting me in trouble!


LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Meg: An eclectic mix… everything from oldies, Broadway show tunes (hello Hamilton on repeat 24/7), pop – whatever I am feeling at that moment.


LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Meg: Self-care is so important – so I make sure to take time for just me. I usually get my nails done or get a massage at least once a month. I used to feel guilty about taking the time out of the workday to focus on me, but I’ve found it to be so important to my mental health. So I suppose it isn’t that much of a guilty pleasure after all!


Thank you, Meg, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love what you’re doing with Belle & Union, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!


Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!


Where Are They Now? Patricia of Indigo Ember

Indigo Ember

Wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? Then settle in with a mug of something yummy for the next installment of my “Where Are They Now?” series! And I’m especially excited to bring you this week’s blog, because it features a maker who’s working in the non-packaged consumer good space. Settle in and enjoy!


Indigo Ember



This week, I’m introducing you to Patricia of  Indigo Ember, who creates modern, rustic stationery and goods that warm the heart and home using sustainable, earth-friendly raw materials. Welcome, Patricia… we’re excited to share your transformation story!


LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Patricia: One of my dream life goals was to launch my own business after gaining solid experience in the professional world. My company was launched in September 2012 under a different name (PABD Elegance, LLC). I opened my Etsy store in October 2012 and sold handmade greeting cards.

I’ve always enjoyed crafting as a child and dabbled in various crafts. In the early 2000’s, I created and sent Holiday greeting cards to my family and close friends. In addition, while planning my wedding between 2005 and 2006, I created my own save-the-dates, wedding invitations, programs, table seating cards, favors, and more. I wanted a wedding that was intimate, so I incorporated some elements of handmade (created by me) and received lots of compliments from those who attended my wedding. I also tried home décor crafts such as floral arrangement. I definitely was seriously into crafting, but at that point in time, I hadn’t thought about taking it to the next level of starting a business.

The idea to start my stationery business came from sharing my greeting cards and wedding stationery with a next-door neighbor. She was really impressed with my work and encouraged me to sell them. After I spent some time thinking about it, I decided to give it a try, and my company was born.


Previous logos, BEFORE Brick House Branding


LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Patricia: My company went through a couple of rebrands since it launched in 2012. The second rebrand occurred when I decided to transition from using paper as the primary medium to wood in late 2013. In December 2013, my company was renamed to Tri~Elegance and I began introducing wooden stationery goods in January 2014. I truly enjoy working with wood; it stems from my father, who was a woodworker.

By late summer of 2016, although my business was growing each year, I felt I was still missing something and needed to work on improving certain aspects of the company. I needed more focus, a stronger brand voice, and an improved website. I’d been eyeing a particular professional graphic design company the year prior. They specialize in creative businesses, and I knew I wanted to hire them to take my website to the next level.  So, I did just that in September 2016, thus beginning another rebrand journey into what is now Indigo Ember. I also learned about Brick House Branding through the graphic design company, and knew I was going to enroll in BHB’s Spring 2017 semester class.


LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Patricia: Module 2 of BHB brought on significant realizations about the Indigo Ember brand. Creating the core conversation in Module 1 laid the foundation. However, when I started working on the activities involving the brand’s personality and voice in Module 2, things really started to come together. I finally have focus! I’m not saying I’m 100% there, and my brand will continue to evolve over time. But compared to where I was with the company, I gained more clarity on where I want to take the brand, I know my target audience, and I know the brand’s personality and core conversation.


Tri~Elegance product photography, BEFORE BHB and a rebrand


LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Patricia: I worked with a professional graphic design company to start the rebrand journey, which included business name brainstorming, marketing consultation, graphic design and web design services. I worked with two photographers to redo many of my product photos, including editorial and product shots. These photography services tied into the creation of Indigo Ember’s Holiday 2017 Lookbook, along with the services of another graphic design company who assisted me with packaging.

With the help of Lucky Break’s LBU and BHB courses, I worked on improving the brand’s copy and product descriptions including establishing Indigo Ember’s Wholesale program.


LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Patricia: The biggest obstacle I encountered was coming to terms with having to rename my business again! I was quite resistant at first because it felt like starting all over again and honestly, I felt embarrassed about it too (*hint*, third name). After spending some time thinking it over, I knew it was the right thing to do, and I’m so glad I did.


Indigo Ember

Indigo Ember product photography, AFTER BHB and a rebrand


LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Patricia: I think my business now has true focus: I know my core mission/conversation, personality, and voice. Before, there was a lack consistency and focus. I also became more aware of the difference between running a business versus growing and developing a brand.


LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Patricia: I think Indigo Ember’s customers perceive consistency in the brand including its product offerings and messaging.  I believe that consistency will help my customers to quickly identify when they see an Indigo Ember product online or in stores. They also will know what to expect with respect to product quality and customer service.


LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Patricia: Sales have definitely increased since the rebrand. I’m also getting more opportunities to be featured in blogs and popular online marketplaces.


LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Patricia: BHB gave me the tools and resources to help me build and grow the Indigo Ember brand. The first few modules were critical to reshaping the brand and putting it onto the right track. I’m so grateful for the brand personality exercise. It was exciting to have an “ah-ha” moment with respect to the core conversation, brand personality, and voice. It gave the brand life.


LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Patricia: I would say to keep an open mind. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get stuck in their ways and not want to change, especially if he/she is passionate about the matter. We like to think we have it all figured out. Sometimes, we may be unaware that we cannot see the forest for the trees, and we may be taking steps that are actually hurting the brand/business rather than helping. When embarking on the brand development process, be open-minded and listen carefully to the recommendations and critiques.


Indigo Ember

Indigo Ember editorial photography, AFTER BHB and a rebrand


Thanks for catching up with us, Patricia. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Indigo Ember. We’re cheering you on!


If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2017, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 8-week brand development incubator dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment for the first semester of 2018 opens on October 3rd and closes after 10 days, or as soon as we sell out of seats… so if you know you want a spot, be sure to mark your calendar today to ensure you don’t miss out. I’d welcome an opportunity to work with you!

I hope you’ll stop by next Wednesday for another “Where Are They Now?” blog and an amazing transformation that I’m excited to reveal…


Meet the Maker – Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle



Today in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know the lovely Amanda Wright, who runs her perfectly witty-pretty stationery company Wit & Whistle from home in Cary, North Carolina.  Welcome, Amanda!


LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Amanda: I started Wit & Whistle because I needed a creative outlet. I was working as a graphic designer at a design firm, but my work wasn’t giving me the freedom I craved. Logos, annual reports, websites, and stubborn clients were holding me back. I felt like I needed a big change, so I made one!


LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Amanda: I didn’t have a vision when I started my business, which probably isn’t a great way to start out. I only knew that I wanted working to be fun. I took it a day at a time without a big plan—tweaking and slowly growing my business as I went.


LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Amanda: I create witty and whistle-worthy greeting cards and paper products. My work is pretty with a touch of unexpected crassness.


LBC: Where can we find your products?

Amanda: You can find my products online at and at a bunch of brick and mortar shops around the country.


Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle


LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Amanda: I recently had my first baby, so my typical work day routine has been thrown out the window. These days I frantically try to cram a full day of work into nap time and the few hours I have after the baby goes to bed. I’m not getting much done, but my shop is open, and I’m keeping up with orders. So I’m content with that for now!

BEFORE parenthood, my typical workday was dreamy! After breakfast, I made a cup of tea and headed to my basement studio. In the morning I shipped orders, replied to emails, sent invoices, and reordered supplies. I reserved my afternoons and evenings for fun creative things like working on new designs, taking photos, brainstorming, and writing blog posts. Those were the days!


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Amanda: Remembering that I’m the boss! I chose to do this, and I can make Wit & Whistle into whatever I want it to be. If I’m not happy with the way things are going, I can change them.

I also remind myself that my business has peaks and valleys. If I’m overwhelmed with work, I just need to power through until I hit a slow period. Ahhh, sweet summertime… when they are no card-giving holidays!

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle


LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Amanda: Starting out selling on Etsy was a great decision for my business. Many potential customers (both retail and wholesale) constantly search Etsy. It was much easier to be found and gain recognition there than it would have been starting out with only my stand-alone website from the beginning.

Building a relationship with a trusted local print shop so I could outsource my printing was also a great decision. For the first few years in business I printed all my cards myself, but it got to be too much for me to handle. I was always printing, cutting, and folding when I really wanted to be designing. Picking up boxes of freshly printed and folded cards from my printer is the best feeling! It frees me up to do more of what I love.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Amanda: I’ve grown my business so incredibly slowly that I haven’t made any massive mistakes (thank goodness). Several years ago I decided to expand my line and introduce a collection of home goods. I spent a good chunk of money screen printing large quantities of tea towels and printing custom fabrics for pillow covers. My pillows and tea towels weren’t total failures, but they definitely didn’t become customer favorites. Since then I’ve been slowly selling out of my home goods. I’ve realized that my customers love Wit & Whistle for the witty paper goods, so why reinvent the wheel?!


LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Amanda: I support Water for Good (they drill and maintain wells in the Central African Republic) and the local North Carolina food bank. There’s nothing like helping others in need get the basics—food and water!


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Amanda: My sketchbook, Adobe Illustrator, and Wave Accounting.


LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Amanda: I honestly have no idea! I’m going with my “take it a day at a time” plan for now. There may be more babies in my future, in which case Wit & Whistle will be coasting for the next few years while I savor this phase of life. Maintaining the business has helped me stay sane and feel like myself as I adjust to motherhood, so keeping the shop doors open one way or another is important to me.


Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle


LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Amanda: Warm-from-the-oven, gooey-in-the-middle chocolate chip cookies. With milk. (I’m a total chocolate chip cookie snob.)


LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Amanda: Regina Spektor. Pretty sure I have all her albums. I also love Rubble Bucket. Oh, and Parov Stelar.


LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Amanda: I can’t control my self around desserts. If I make a pan of brownies or a batch of cookies, it will be gone within 24 hours. I’m a monster! I have to limit myself to making those single-serving mug brownies.


Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle


LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?

Amanda: Cleaning the grout in my bathrooms. Grout is the worst.


LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Amanda: Today my favorite quote is: “Don’t panic, and it’s amazing what you can do in a day!” —Rhea Thierstein


Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love what you’re doing with Wit & Whistle, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!


Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!


Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs

Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs

Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs


This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re going behind the scenes with Mica May, the creator of and CEO behind May Designs, an eco-friendly company known for functional and fabulous canvas notebooks, stationery, photobooks and greeting cards. Welcome, Mica!


LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Mica: The May Designs brand was started almost by accident when I couldn’t find the perfect notebook. I was running a design company at the time, so I whipped up a few that were just the right size and were more fashion forward than anything I could find. They were small enough to throw in a purse, customizable with a logo I liked and had inside pages that were useful. After a few months of carrying them around, people took notice and wanted to buy them, so I designed and launched and started selling my first retail product: May Books. Soon enough, I realized that I had really stumbled upon something that I not only loved, but other people loved as well, so I ran with it!

I spent the next several years perfecting the product, learning how to operate an e-commerce business and invested a lot of resources in PR initiatives. I landed a segment on Good Morning America that aired the first week of December, and after a 15 second spot featuring my fully customizable notebooks, my little company changed forever. We received over 33,000 orders that day – and I’ve spent the next several years building, sustaining and growing the company into what it is today. Six years later, here we are!


LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Mica: I love PR, so I envisioned little goals like “if I ever got on Oprah’s favorite things, that would be the pinnacle of success”! When I decided to pursue May Books full time, I turned to my husband and asked what it would take for him to feel like May Books had “made it”, like it was no longer just a hobby, but a successful business. He said he’d love to see it hit $100K in sales, so that was my next goal. Fast forward one month later and we reached $100K when we were featured on Good Morning America!


LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Mica: I love the idea of making everyday life more beautiful! We do this by letting our customers design a beautiful product they’ll love using every day, and our hope is that this will give people the freedom to be exactly who they want to be. I’ve always wanted our patterns to set us apart and make May Designs unique – we try to offer a wide range of patterns that can inspire several types of designs styles, but all stay within our overall brand vision. We want to be a place of inspiration, where you can find both the latest trends (like our Marble Collection or our gold foil patterns) that will challenge and stretch the style of our every day customer — and then we have classics (polka dots and rugby stripe) in every color that are fantastic patterns that can fill the need for a simple and straightforward design for a birth announcement or a gift!


Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs


LBC: Where can we find your products?

Mica: You can find all of our products at Whether you want notebooks, cards, stationery, photo books, or desk calendars, they’re all on our website, ready for you to personalize!


LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Mica: I love to create and problem solve. I think about 99% of what I do all each day is one of those two things: essentially putting out fires, or lighting new stuff on fire! I typically wake up and immediately check my phone for any text/email emergencies that might have happened in the middle of the night. I’ve got three young kids, so after I get them dressed, fed and out the door, I head into the studio. Our team is still pretty small (we have 13 employees) so the office is pretty fast paced and we always have several projects going on at once. We could be working on the marketing campaigns for the week, upcoming pattern launches, or white boarding out the next social media strategy we want to try.


LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Mica: 1. Having an idea is just the beginning. There is a ton of effort and whole lotta hustle involved into turning an idea into a thriving business. Be ready to keep setting goals and working your tail off!

2. Not all ideas that seem great will be great. I give myself a lot of room to dream big and fly my kite crazy high, but I also give myself room for grace and failure. Sometimes failing tells me even more about a marketing initiative or a product than I could have ever dreamed of!

3. Go with your gut! I think one of the most important things I can do as a wife, a mother and CEO of May Designs is to trust my instincts. I usually know what is best for my kids – even if it goes against the norm . . . and the same for my company. I try and surround myself with people who encourage and challenge and believe in me and trust that I am not going to move forward with a decision until I feel 100% sure it’s the right thing to do!


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Mica: I think knowing your limits and when to say no is a crucial first step. If you are already overwhelmed – take SHORT amounts of time for yourself that energize you. For me, i can literally feel on top of the world if i simply sit in my car for 10 minutes after I get home, but before I go inside, to just clear out emails or do one more phone call so that I can shut it off when I walk in the door to be with my family. Or sometimes I will take a quick lunch break and breeze through Anthropologie just to clear my mind.

I also make a ton of lists — lists that literally say “things that stress me out!” and I write every single thing down, however small it might feel. What inevitably happens when I do that is I find that THINKING about things is far more stressful than just taking the time to knock stuff off my list; the “list” feels more stressful than the actual tasks on it. So when I get really overwhelmed, I make my list and then do the easiest things first – the things that take the least amount of time – so I feel a sense of accomplishment. I’m an achiever by nature, so when nothing is getting done but I keep thinking about it, that’s when I feel the most overwhelmed.


Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs


LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Mica: Operating with integrity in the small things builds practice for keeping integrity with the harder things down the road. It has been so great that we feel like integrity is a practice now. It’s easier to have integrity with big decisions because we’ve already committed to integrity.

Hiring a fantastic team and surrounding our business with people who are excited about the vision is very imporant to me. I love to give our team room to fly, which takes the pressure off of me having to do everything! Trusting them with shared responsibility has been so great because we have hired such an amazing team.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Mica: I’ve had a couple of mis-hires, which was an obstacle for us that we quickly identified. We chose to overcome it by resolving it as quickly as possible! As soon as I recognized it wasn’t the perfect fit, we made fast adjustments, which was so much better than dragging out the situation.


LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Mica: Absolutely! My son has Down syndrome and goes to a school for young kids with special needs. It has been so rewarding to see the success of our Rise Art Pattern Collection!

The Rise School Art Book originated from a beautiful canvas displayed in my son’s school lobby, painted by students – most of whom have Down syndrome. I was smitten with its bright colors and cheery outlook, and asked if I could put the design on a May Book – to raise money for the school and children with special needs.

Then, May Designs hosted an event to add to and complete the Rise School Art Book collection, and the kids at the school helped turn plain canvases into beautiful masterpieces! Proceeds from the Rise Art Collection helps to raise awareness and provide better education for children with special needs through the Rise School and other initiatives. It has been such a joy to give back to a cause that is so close to my heart!


Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Mica: I can’t do without a handful of great mentors that I can call and have access to if I need quick help. Great mentors are crucial for any entrepreneur! You need cheerleaders who are always in your corner and love you, as well as the people who aren’t always “yes people”. It’s a necessary balance between mentors who are always supportive and on your side and mentors that will tell you when your ideas aren’t smart, or when you need to make some changes.


LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Mica: It’s definitely an exciting time. It’s been a year since we moved to Austin, and we’ve added several people to our growing team. This past year we have been marketing and dreaming up new ways we can share our company with more people. We’ve being doing a lot of advertising and trying to grow our fan base one notebook junkie at a time! In the upcoming years, I’m dreaming about seeing May Designs expand into new product lines and keep hitting our goals!


LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Mica: Definitely cheese!


LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Mica: Taylor Swift, Passion Pit, Shawn Mendes, Ellie Goulding… anything good for dancing in the kitchen with my kids.


Meet the Maker – Mica May of May Designs


LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Mica: I really love to get my nails done. I feel out of whack when my nails aren’t painted! It makes me feel like a new person. And I usually take my daughter Mady with me, so I get a date with her and I get my nails done at the same time!


LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?

Mica: Ha! I recently realized that I love dreaming and building and anything involving the front end of decisions, but I’m the worst at follow up and maintenance. I would love to hire someone to come alongside me as the logistical one who follows up with everything and ties up loose ends while I dream and fly my kite!


Thank you, Mica, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for May Designs. We’re cheering you on…


Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!


Catching up with LBU Alumni: April May of Everything Little Miss

2016 Butterfly Wall Calendar by Everything Little Miss

April May Headshot 2014


Are you wondering what happens to my LBU alumni post-graduation? What they do with all the momentum + knowledge? Where they take their businesses next? Each Tuesday in September, we’re catching up with a different grad to see what they’ve been up to and get their thoughts on the program. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on these makers + product designers!

This week we’re talking to stationery designer April May of Everything Little Miss, a line of delightfully fun paper + gifts.


Meet: April May
Started her business: 2009
Graduated LBU: Summer 2014
Lives in: Acton, Massachusetts


2016 Butterfly Wall Calendar by Everything Little Miss


LBC: When you first joined LBU, what were you searching for?

April: When I signed up for LBU, I was looking for business guidance. I felt like I was creating and creating, but not gaining much traction or growing as much as I wanted to be.


LBC: How did the LBU experience propel your business forward?

April: Since LBU, I’ve really been focusing on the business side of things. Instead of making decisions, I’m making business decisions. I’m looking at my sales data with clearer eyes and making design decisions based on sales instead of guesses. It sounds silly, but when something starts as a hobby, you have to learn to treat it like a business.


Map Cards by Everything Little Miss


LBC: What was the biggest surprise or most valuable facet of your LBU experience?

April: The amazing community! Prior to LBU, I would read all sorts of blogs telling me to find my tribe. I didn’t know what that meant and I felt really alone. Not anymore! I finally found my people, and it’s making such a huge difference. The support and encouragement are invaluable. I learn so much from my new friends on a daily basis. They ask questions I haven’t thought of, they give honest critiques, and they understand what it means to run a small business from home with little kids running around.


LBC: Describe the LBU experience in 6 words or less.

April: The best thing ever? Haha! But seriously: “Lotsa work. Epiphany! Implement big improvements.”


Christmas Hedgehogs by Everything Little Miss


LBC: What have you been up to post-graduation?

April: The very first thing I did was discontinue quite a few products. Then, I updated all of my product images and listings and my shop feels much more cohesive + my sales have increased. My wholesale sales are also increasing since I stream-lined my offerings. Speaking of wholesale: I’m now an official West Elm LOCAL vendor at the Fenway store in Boston! I also decided not to attend the National Stationery Show this year, and instead did a big, fancy mailing to retailers and it was very well received and led to a few new accounts, along with a couple of Instagram posts that made me feel Insta-famous for a minute. Oh, I also had a baby in January, 8 days after my first turned 2. It’s been an action-packed year of family + business growth!


LBC: What’s next for your business?

April: In 2016 I’ll be narrowing my focus and products even more. I’ll be working on my branding and my signature style as the year winds down. I’m excited (and a bit nervous) about making changes, but I know my business will be improved and I’ll be better able to serve my customers.


Cape + Islands Card by Everything Little Miss


LBC: What would you tell a fellow entrepreneur who’s wondering if LBU is a wise investment or a good fit for them?

April: If you’re ready to do the work (it’s a lot of work) and really look at your business with a critical eye, I wholeheartedly recommend LBU. The price tag may seem high, but I’m still getting value from this course a year later! Lela’s a wonderful teacher and she wants everybody to walk away more knowledgeable and business savvy. Her commitment to the program in inspiring – she totally leads by example.


Thanks for catching up with us, April! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Everything Little Miss. We’re cheering you on!


Are you an LBU Alumni with some big news to share? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “LBU ALUMNI” as the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you!