Pullovers and Positive Vibes
In this digital age, people still crave that personal touch. We enjoy seeing handcrafted goods, we seek out farm-to-table food, and we love receiving hand-lettered invitations. For artist and owner of small business Emma Leigh Design, Emma Robinson decided to go one step further by putting her own designs on custom shirts to serve as a visual reminder for people to relate to one another.
Based on her love of hand-lettering, creating, and offering people tangible ways to connect, Emma launched her business while she was still in college. She initially started out with a focus on weddings and events but struggled to find the growth she had hoped for. She finally found her audience after winning two stationery design challenges on a popular wedding website. Combined with the support from her community, this feedback spurred her on to keep following her passion and to find opportunities to engage with others.
She discovered that one new way to connect was with custom apparel. She saw that it could help her branch out beyond the paper products that made up the core of her usual business. Emma decided to try her hand at making custom t-shirts using her original designs. After hearing about Custom Ink while searching for a printer, she placed an order and never looked back.
“My experience with Custom Ink has been incredible. They have been present and proactive through each and every stage of the process, and as a small business, that kind of support is huge!” In addition to the care that Emma received through the ordering process, her customers appreciated the high quality of the shirts and printing. “Custom Ink helps bring my designs to life for people to experience and enjoy on my apparel products.”
The t-shirts were a hit and a positive sign that people were resonating with Emma’s designs. “I had so much fun selling the custom t-shirts to my friends that I decided to try out making sweatshirts as well, and those have by far been my most successful items so far!” It helps that Emma brought the concept of connecting with others front and center (literally) with her sweatshirt. Featuring the simple sentiment of “Love Your Neighbor,” these custom sweatshirts have gone on to be the most popular item in her store.
“We each carry our own pain and struggle, and oftentimes we are unable to see what it is that other people are dealing with beneath the surface. These sweatshirts were created to serve as a visual reminder for us to recognize the worth in every person, to check in on the people around us, and to simply love first—because you are loved, and so are they,” says Emma.
In people’s fast-paced, electronic-focused lives, it is a challenge for many to look beyond their screens and think about everyone around them. Emma’s custom sweatshirts resonated with enough people that, after she started selling them at the beginning of October, she’s since placed multiple reorders to make sure she doesn’t run out!
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With the amazing sales of the “Love Your Neighbor” shirt, she decided to continue with the theme of kindness towards yourself and others. She added a “You Are Enough” design to her store, which she describes as “a reminder to someone of the worth that they have, even on the days when it can be so hard to believe.” Products like these work on multiple levels offering inspiration to both the wearer, and to anyone who sees the message.
The current success of her business has had a big impact on Emma’s life, and it provides the type of inspiration that appears on her shirts. “Creating art and doing graphic design has been such a life-giving thing for me over these past few months. It has been such a source of joy and peace for me in the midst of a somewhat crazy season of life. I love getting to bring an idea that is in my head to life whether that is on a stationery card, wedding invitation, or sweatshirt.”
Being able to share that passion and vision with others, and feel that community support, has been a driving force for Emma. “It has been so special to me to have so many people come alongside me in this business to support and encourage the work I am doing. This business pushes me to try new things, take some risks, and gain confidence in the work that I am doing! I am so excited for what is ahead!”
You can find Emma Leigh Design here, or follow on Instagram at @emmaleighdesign.