Today I am thrilled to introduce you to the incredibly talented lady, Ellen Braley of El’s Cards. I first met El over 14 years ago through a mutual friend. Then when it came time to plan my wedding she was one of the first people I called. El addressed all my invitations and also did all my place cards. As many of you know I am obsessed with paper, so I didn’t make the choice lightly. Years later, I enlisted El to make a custom map of Zanzibar, Tanzania, as a thank you gift for my sister who lives there. It was fabulous and exceeded my expectations! Her maps are a beautiful piece of art and would make an amazing gift.
El started her company over twenty years ago. What started with small calligraphy jobs and a leap of faith has turned into a successful company and a wedding staple. Five years ago El had built up enough business that her husband, Bob, quit his job and joined her as her business partner. Now she can focus more on the creative side, while Bob runs the business side. It is an amazing partnership.
I have loved watching El’s Cards grow over the years, and any bride that uses her is in very good hands. El has really shown that with consistency and hard work you can turn your passion into a thriving business. Make sure to stay tuned to the end of the interview for a gift from El.
HERE IS MY INTERVIEW WITH HER
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
About 7 years ago, a couple of my wedding industry friends were doing a workshop that sounded interesting. At the time, I was overwhelmed and feeling pulled in a lot of directions. I felt that I should take every job, no matter what the size, because I had this fear of not having enough work. The workshop facilitator, Heather, said that every time someone offered me a job, I needed to ask myself “Is this job in line with the vision I have for my business?” If it was not within my vision, then I should say no. This would help me stay more focused and heading in my intended direction, without the distraction of accepting projects just for the money. It was hard at first to say “no” so much. But over time I saw that by saying no to the things that would not serve my business plan, there was space created for the things that would become my business focus!
What other women do you admire, and anything you want to share about them?
There are so many! But there are two special women who come right to mind. The first one is my Mum. She is a creative person who succeeds at whatever she tries. Most of all I think of her positive attitude. She is a positive person by nature, and she taught that to me too. She is also a creative person and if that is a gene, Mum is where I got that too!
The second woman is my high school art teacher, Jane Wydra. She was a talented artist and always encouraged me to pursue a career in art. She taught me calligraphy and how to draw and paint. Since I don’t have any formal art training, Jane is the beginning and end of my art education.
What app can’t you live without?
Instagram is definitely my most used app! It has been a great platform for connecting with new brides and staying in touch with our clients.
What is your favorite podcast and or book?
Reading is my thing! I am a true bookworm. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes-loved that book! Another favorite is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Louise Penny cannot write her books in the Inspector Gamache series fast enough for me!
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan was an inspiring book for my business. No regular podcasts, but when I am painting in my studio lately, I admit to cranking 80’s tunes (REO Speedwagon, Journey….) on Pandora.
What piece of advice would you share with other women?
The best advice I could give is to be patient. Little by little my business grew because I stayed with it. I had to put myself out there even though it was uncomfortable. So stick with it but don’t be discouraged if things aren’t happening overnight!
What are you most grateful for?
I am so grateful for my family and all the people who have helped, loved, and supported me along the way. And I need to mention my husband, Bob, especially. We are a team and run El’s Cards together full time. We each have critical roles (and different skill sets) and I couldn’t do it without him.
Use coupon code INSPIRE or click here for 20% off the El’s Cards website plus free shipping!
Cover photo by Geneve Hoffman Photography