On today's Felt Good Lives blog feature, we have someone I have deemed the Letter Board Queen and if you don't already know why, you will after this chat with her.
She is one of the first people I met when we first started FGV. I tried to scroll back in our DMs to pinpoint exactly how our friendship started but it just kept scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling. I scrolled past messages about our kids, business ideas, our work, our families, our weekend plans, our goals, dreams, frustrations. Truth is, it doesn't matter how the first conversation started, all that matters is it hasn't stopped since.
THE Emily of @emily.kay.says is our guest feature for today. She has changed the letter board game and has helped put so many small shops on the map, FGV included. With her beautifully styled boards, she pushes all design boundaries and shows just how creative one can be with a board and a few accessories. I'm quite convinced her creativity and vision need a bigger platform and that it truly transcends way beyond the board.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Emily more and I know you will too so let's get started.
Do you remember your first letter board, and do you still have it?
Yes and yes. It’s a black 10x10 felt board I bought off Amazon, no brand name to speak of. My husband came home and said “why is there a sign that says ‘NO’ on our counter?” I think I was searching for creative/funny quotes and searched up “letterboards” on facebook which led to the group “Letterboards and fun quotes”. Then I found out that there were all kinds of letters and icons I could score at Jo-Ann’s through that group and the rest… well that’s what we’re getting to, right?
How many boards do you have?
I stopped counting at 60. Is that a ridiculous number? Yes. Do I use them all? No. do I have favorites, yes. Should anyone else have over 60 letterboards? No. Why so many? There’s some little ones in there. Some plastic ones that I hate, but ironically, they’re the ones that I tend to use in long term/permanent décor. I’ve scored a ton of cheap crap from Amazon. Some I actually consider as “research” in the sense that I want to know how they compare. I’ve gotten some good ones. And some crap ones. I’ve had companies reach out and offer to send me things in exchange for posts… I’ve done shadier shit for less stuff! 😂
What are some of your other hobbies?
I enjoy long romantic walks through the aisles of target… Just kidding. I prefer to go to target alone. I’m a nerd. I like books and words. You’ll find me with a book before you find me watching tv. I like labels and clear plastic storage containers because organizing things is my relaxation. Making things fit. I color code my planner with stickers. I love scouring a thrift store for fun finds, but I don’t get to do it nearly as much as I like these days. Does momming count as a hobby? Because I’m usually at an event for my kids.
When you’re not letter boarding, what can we find you doing?
So, yeah. If I’m not letterboarding I’m usually at an event for my kids. Right now they’re both doing quiz bowl. One is wrestling and one is swimming. We just got done with cheerleading and cross country. If I’m not running the kids around, I’m working. I am a produce manager for a local SpartanNash store. I’ve been with the company in some capacity for almost 25 years. On paper, I’ve been there for 5. I was at a store that closed, took their severance package and walked away. I came back 6 months later. I really do love my job. The people help, but I enjoy the work too. When I came back, I was only part time which afforded me the opportunity to be home every afternoon for my kids. I went back to full time this year and it’s definitely been an adjustment for family life.
What has been your proudest accomplishment of 2019?
I think my proudest accomplishment is probably earning over 1000 followers on IG. Is that silly? To be caught up in the number game? Probably. But it was a goal back in 2018 that I said, you know, I think I’ll document these letterboards and I’ll share them. And then, I think I’ll try to be more consistent about sharing them. And I think I’ll try to engage more people and so while the number of followers was never a goal, it’s a measure of how much I’ve accomplished in honing my craft. And that has been a meaningful experience.
What has been your most meaningful experience of 2019?
I think being offered the management position at work, and accepting it has been my most meaningful experience. Because it forced me to do something different. It forced me to stop being complacent and made me want bigger things. I don’t know what the next step will be. This took at lot of getting over fears of change and I feel those again. How long will I stay in the produce department? Or should I try something different? This was definitely a proud accomplishment, but I didn’t have my sights set on this until it was presented to me, so its my meaningful experience.
What is the one tangible goal you are working towards for 2020?
I wish lbCON2020 seemed more tangible. I think it will end up more along the lines of, Emily takes a vacation again. Right now, I want to be able to focus on my Emily Kay Says side hustle. I’m trying to pimp out my letterboards for rent to friends. No takers yet, but I also don’t have much overhead. So I figure I have nothing to lose. I dream of being able to create letterboard kits. Designs that would have my name on them. Everyone would be able to create something that I did. I’d find some corporate company that would make inferior products just to make as many as possible, and people would scramble and be upset that they couldn’t find them in their area. Okay, I’d hope for better results. Lol.
What is something many of us may not know about you?
I love pizza just as much if not more than tacos, but taco Tuesday is more fun than Pizza Pfriday. My dream car is a 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I get super anxious in loud crowds and small spaces I can’t get out of. Elevators don’t scare me, but escalators do. My favorite era would probably be mid century modern, but I love the rustic things too. I wanted to be an architect when I was in high school. Drafting was my favorite class. My major in college was English. And then I dropped out. If I went back to school I’d do something along the lines of marketing or graphic design. I hate being told what to do. Most of the time I’m shy and stoic, but if I’m excited, I get very animated. I cry when I’m stressed. And during movies.. And commercials. And sports. I love Michigan State basketball. Weird celebrity crushes? Tom Izzo & Gary Vee.
You are a big part of our Felt Good Tribe and letter board community, but tell us more about your circle (family, friends, etc.) in real life and do they get in on the letter board fun too?
My husband Jason and I have been married for 14 years. I met him when he lived in Indiana through mutual friends. We got married on a farm before Pinterest made it cool. He really is one of my biggest cheerleaders, even if he doesn’t “get” the creative process. We have 2 kids, E and Wavy, who are 13 and 11. They are in 7th and 6th grades. I avoid their names and pictures of them on these public internet platforms because I’m trying to be fair to them as they get ready to navigate social media themselves over the next few years. Most of my friends are part of my mom tribe where our kids are all friends. They are not into letterboarding. But they’re some of my biggest fans. I have 1 older sister and 2 nephews. I live 1 mile from my mom and dad and the house I grew up in. My kids attend the same schools I did.
What does community mean for you?
That’s easy. It’s a group of people all working together lift each up. Michigan doesn’t have consolidated schools. Their school districts are chopped up into little towns. Except our district can’t claim a town as their own. But what we lack for in hometown, we make up for in community. We’re close knit, we help each other out, we look out for each other. Much the same way we do things online.
Letterboarding is a niche, so when we find others who love it too, we try to help them out. I wrestle daily with this back & forth conversation, should I be upset they took my idea? Am I not encouraging people enough to do their own thing? Do I want them to run with my ideas? It’s a lot to live up to when people have given you the nickname of “letterboard queen”. I should probably be a better community member.
I mean, talk about someone doing my job for me. I don't even have the words to close out this beautifully written piece, so I'll end with this. Emily is a fantastic community member, for many reasons but if only for the fact that she pushes us all to step up our letter board game and design beyond the board.
If you're not familiar with her already, you can check her out on Instagram at @Emily.Kay.Says and Facebook at Emily Kay Says.