You may already know The Ellie Project was created during my late husband, Andrew’s, bonding time with our daughter, Ellie, while he was laying in his hospital bed in our home. He really wanted to play with Ellie, but couldn’t wrestle with her or run around and play with her outside, so he decided to combine two of her favorite things, animals and drawing, into Daddy-Daughter time. Andrew requested I purchase some professional drawing pencils he could use to create beautiful pictures of Ellie’s favorite animals. After seeing some of Andrew’s drawings I was blown away by the fact he could actually draw. From college football player to scholar, writer, artist, and so much more, there was honestly nothing this man couldn’t do. Andrew was a complete renaissance man. I encouraged him to do something special with his art for Ellie. He then came up with the idea of creating an alphabet book with an animal for each letter filled with love letters to Ellie about all of the life lessons he wanted to pass on to her. He completed the book before he passed away on July 26, 2013.
I knew I wanted to get the book published after Andrew passed away so Ellie could have something that was hers from her dad. I wanted her to know he had important things to share with her, he wanted to connect with her, and he spent his final months creating something special just for her. This is one of the reasons I think Ellie is so drawn to art. She does art on a daily basis and if you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she will say, “I want to make things.” She often creates books for me and tells me that she makes books like her mommy and daddy J
My plan was to work with a publisher who would keep Andrew’s original art and words, to print only so many copies, and to share them online like I did with Andrew’s other book, A Gray Faith. A couple of months before the books came out, I was approached by my former wedding planner, turned dear friend, and her husband, one of Andrew’s close friend’s toward the end of his life. This husband and wife team met planning Andrew’s memorial service and were married last year J. They wanted to collaborate with her invitation business, Simply Personal, to create a line of stationery, art prints, canvases, journals, and other products inspired by the book.
The goal was to launch the book and stationery at The National Stationery Show in New York, which Susan had attended several times in the past. At first, I was really nervous to do the business venture because it was a risk in investment, partnerships can sometimes be tricky, and I was afraid of the unknown, but another part of me was really excited about the opportunity. I hadn’t even thought this big originally, so the creativity involved was a huge draw for me. I also liked the idea of working with two people who knew our story and loved Andrew. After getting business advice from those I really trusted, I said yes, and the rest has been a whirlwind.
Susan and Chase spent countless hours busting their bums pioneering this venture and although I don’t say it enough, I am beyond grateful for their belief in Andrew, in me, and for their work ethic to help me create a much bigger platform than I ever thought possible. Because of their contribution, so many more people can be touched by the messages Andrew wrote in the book. So thank you, Susan and Chase Graves, for all you’ve done to help with the evolution of The Ellie Project.
Would love to hear about a time when someone helped challenge and encourage you to think bigger than you ever thought possible, or about any instances of awesome teamwork that lifted you or your team to greater heights! Please share in the comments below.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Hope you had a great 4th of July and I will catch ya next week! Blessings.
P.S. Loved seeing so many of your faces at the Cuero library book signing! Thank you for your support for The Ellie Project. I truly appreciate you sharing your experience with the book with your friends and family and encouraging them to go to www.ellieproject.com to hear our story.
P.S.S. I am coming back to Cuero on Thursday July 23 and would love to see your face! I will be signing books at Lakeviewknoll from 7 pm-9pm before movie night in the park. Please come say hi!