The HerKentucky Easter Basket Wishlist

If you're like me, you're going to be spending Easter Sunday with a big family dinner, a fancy dress hidden under a sweater, and the resolve to not eat too many Peeps. I thought it would be fun to put together a couple of Easter Baskets full of Kentucky-themed products to go along with those holiday plans!
  • The littlest gal on your Easter list will love this Savannah Seersucker Bonnet from Lexington's own Beaufort Bonnet Company. This monogrammable bonnet makes an amazing keepsake of her first Easter.
  • I adore the Lilly Pulitzer Just Add Mint print for spring. With all the fixin's for a julep, it's sure to be a hit at the spring races. Both the Lexington and Louisville Peppermint Palm stores have plenty of this fun print in stock, including my favorite, the Lavender skirt, as well as the Leandra and Lacina dresses.
  • Mellen Designs strikes again! Dress your iPhone 4 or 5 in your favorite team colors with the Winning Team Phone Case.

  • The little guy in your life will look sharp in the Baylor Bow Tie from Beaufort Bonnet. I love the monogram option!
  • Treat your beau to a bourbon class at the 1785 Bourbon Societyat Midway's Holly Hill Inn. I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a tasting; I left feeling a little happier and a lot more knowledgeable about Kentucky's native spirit!
  • Of course, what your favorite Kentucky fan wants is a commitment from Andrew Wiggins. I doubt the Easter Bunny can swing that one, but this Waterford crystal paperweight commemorating our 8th National Title is pretty nice.

A Very MEllen Christmas to You!

Y'all know I'm just obsessed with MEllen Designs
Ever since I interviewed Mary Ellen for HerKentucky earlier this year, I can't get enough of her whimsical designs!
I mean, who wouldn't love to send a Christmas card featuring these adorable ladies?
And how lovely is this calendar? A year of MEllen sure sounds fun!
I am so excited that Mary Ellen has graciously offered one lucky HerKentucky reader a chance to win my very favorite design -- a customized set of KY Lady Flat Cards. Silks, a horseshoe, and a julep -- it doesn't get any cuter than that!
Just enter the Rafflecopter drawing below! The contest lasts through midnight Monday December 10th. We'll announce a winner on Tuesday the 11th. Good luck, and I hope y'all have a very MEllen Christmas!
Edited to announce: Congratulations to Allison P. for winning this drawing. Allison, look for an email today!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

HerKentucky Business: Mellen Designs

Today, we're so excited to spotlight Mary Ellen Harden of Mellen Designs as our July HerKentucky Businesswoman.  Mary Ellen's whimsical, iconic cards and gifts have a distinctively "Lexington" feel, with vibrant drawings of local landmarks, horsey themes, and bright colors.  I first noticed Mary Ellen's work when she designed a custom character for Junior League of Lexington's Holly Day Market. Since then, I've found myself absolutely smitten with her work.  The KY Lady Flat cards are just calling my name (juleps, horseshoes and silks? Yes, please!) and I'm simply obsessed with the Map Cards, the cutest and most unique way to tell a couple's story on a save-the date! -- HCW

Mary Ellen Harden is committed to providing the South's spunkiest, most sophisticated line of cards and gifts. Born in Lexington, Kentucky and graduate of the University of Kentucky Harden is most proud of her local success. Awarded a Trendy Finalist at the National Stationery Show in 2011 is one of the company's greatest achievements. The Mellen line includes greeting cards, invitations, correspondence card sets, gift items, and custom illustration for weddings and large celebrations. Harden says, "The opportunity to give customers exactly what they imagined, or sometimes, better than they imagined makes this very fulfilling work!"

Mary Ellen graciously agreed to answer our questions starting her business and about life in Lexington.  We were thrilled to find that she's as lovely as her artwork!

Have you always lived in Kentucky? 
Yes, I have always lived in Lexington. I went to SCAPA for elementary and middle school and graduated from Lafayette High School.
When did you start drawing/ designing? 
Mellen Designs Horse Shoe Tray
I was always crafting something! I was a young aunt in 6th grade and my sister decorated my neice's room in Winnie the Pooh, I did a series of colored pencil drawings based on the Winnie the Pooh series for the baby's room. I guess I consider this my first large project! I worked at Peggy's Gifts on Clay Avenue in college and she was kind enough to use my art for custom order requests, etc. This was when I produced my first simple line of cards and created custom invitations. I can't remember when I first picked up a marker, but I do remember visiting Disney World in the third grade with my family and walking through MGM studios when artist were still sitting over desks drawing characters for the films. It hit me that I would really enjoy a career where I could do the same.
What made you decide to start your own business?
Save the Date map cards
I was very fortunate to find a job out of college at a successful greeting card company. This gave me the opportunity to learn the industry and build my skills. The owners pushed me to start my own line on the side, so January 2008, only a semester out of school, I opened Mellen Designs. I have always had a goal of owning a stationery business, I just thought it would occur much farther in the future.  
What do you wish someone had told you before you started MEllen Designs?
That there are a LOT of stationery companies out there! Just a joke, but it does raise the topic of comparison and competition. My business model is to do my best, and stand out as myself - not to worry about the "others." I find as a woman and in my business, comparison sneaks up. Although watching industry trends is very important, comparison can make you lose sight of yourself!

What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business?
 I believe that if you are doing what you love and cannot imagine yourself doing anything different you will achieve success. It is very hard work, not to be brushed over, but if your heart is in it, the hard work is so very fulfilling.
Mary Ellen also answered a few fun get-to-know-you questions for us:
What is your favorite drink?
I hold dearest my morning coffee with a bit of milk and sweetener, but more exciting is an ice cold beer on a hot day at the lake!
What is your favorite spot in Lexington?
I'll have to name a few - Merrick Inn for a celebratory dinner with my husband, the Arboretum for a run with my dog, Keeneland with friends, Old Cassidy Ave. where we are moving in a week, UK campus which brings back so many great memories, Graeter's Ice Cream Parlor with a black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cone in hand!
Jeans or a skirt?  
Definitely skirt! I can't ever get jeans to fit me right, I'm short!
Cats or Cards?  
Cats - always! We named our sweet beagle puppy, Cali after Coach Cal.
Summer or Winter? 
Summer! Hot summer days lift my spirits and bring inspiration - of course, it's always harder to get to work in the summer!

 For more Mellen, visit the company website and blog, or follow Mellen on Twitter and Facebook. For the remainder of July, Mary Ellen is running a 10% off offer for all online orders.