Love Letters by Emily, an online Etsy shop specializing in photo prints, handmade cards and custom designs featuring American Sign Language letters, has been selected as a nominee in the 2013 Martha Stewart American Made contest now underway at marthastewart.com/americanmade.
Originally created by Carolyn Maxwell as a learning tool for her special needs daughter, Emily, Love Letters evolved into a special business venture for the mother-daughter duo from Kingston.
Inspired by a Valentine's Day gift from Emily's Teacher of the Deaf, who photographed her hand finger-spelling "L-O-V-E" in American Sign Language letters, Love Letters by Emily creations blend the art of ASL with everyday sentiments of love, caring and friendship. The end result is a unique product that is not only personalized, but also bridges a communication gap between those fluent in ASL and those who are not. Simply put, Love Letters by Emily are a way to "express your love…without saying a word"
Using a fusion of Emily's hand-modeling talents and Carolyn's self-taught photo editing skills, the Love Letters by Emily Etsy store has flourished, earning the pair custom orders that include date and event announcements, sentimental love notes featuring images of Emily's hands creating heart shapes, greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc., inspirational quotes, and ASL finger-spelled family names. Emily even has a number of pieces displayed for sale at Bagelz in the URI Emporium.
Martha Stewart's American Made contest is open to entrepreneurs across the country who have creative businesses involving crafts, design, food, garden, style and technology. According to the American Made website, the movement "spotlights the maker, supports the local and celebrates the handmade."
Simply entering the contest has already been a positive experience for the Maxwell family, as its publicity has not only helped the Love Letters by Emily business take off even faster, but more importantly it's done the same for the message behind the brand.
Ten finalists will be chosen by the editors of Martha Stewart Living, and then voted on by the general public at the contest's official website. Ultimately, voters will select six category winners and one grand prize winner who will receive a magazine/website feature, a trip to attend the American Made Awards and Workshop in New York City and $10,000 for their business - a prize that Carolyn says would be "life-changing".
The most recent round of online voting for the contest began last week and will run until Friday, Sept. 13. Individuals may cast up to six votes per day for any finalist. Click here to vote for Love Letters by Emily in the American Made contest.