Creative Process with Bethany

📷: @b.ethanygrace 

We are always blown away by Bethany's flat lay images, and because of that, we wanted to get as many details about her creative process as possible. We were able to chat with her about life in Canada and the story behind her iconic letter board images. 

Followers of our IG are no stranger to your photos. But tell us a little bit about you!

A little about me?? Weeeell, I am a 27-year-old dreamer from just outside Edmonton, AB, Canada, and currently make a living doing photography and calligraphy. I used to be a grade 1 teacher, but left the profession last year to pursue my creative endeavours, as I believe life is too short not to at least TRY! Though completely and utterly exciting, the transition was scary and unknown, and thus I am so thankful for my big family (8 kids) and wonderful community of friends who have supported me throughout the whole thing.

Speaking of friends and family, Jesse and I love spending time with just each other, but we are social butterflies! Our friends and family are extremely important to us and we spend a lot of time with them. And who is Jesse? He is my amazing boyfriend of over 7 years now (can you imagine the letter board I make to announce THAT engagement?!), and we love to do everything from hiking and camping in the mountains in our campervan, Bertha, to binge watching dat sweet, sweet Netflix on our ritual Pizza Sundays with our adorable cat, Douglas Fur. Overall, I like to believe in the goodness of people and leading a life fuelled by love and kindness, while knowing that having perspective, a grateful heart, and my beautiful mom, are all reasons as to why I am able to have the outlook on life that I do.

What’s the process behind taking your colorful, creative letter board photos?
Hmm, I think my process starts from the quotes I use. If it's funny, I can go more full of a picture, with all of me in it. Where as if it's something that's more heartfelt and purposeful, beautiful comes to mind. Then from there, I will look at my feed and see if I need more of a certain colour, heading to look for flowers/objects/items in that colour, but that match the subject of the quote, too, taking inspiration and ideas from what I see. For instance, I knew I wanted something to do with Valentine's for my Valentine's letter board photo I took, but I didn't specifically know what until I went to the grocery store and saw those white-chocolate-covered pretzel hearts, which were PERFECT to play around with, and I just love how it turned out. On the other hand, though, sometimes inspiration comes from objects -- donuts, leaves, holiday decor -- at which point I use the same process, but backward, having the items first and choosing a quote that matches or speaks to me.
With all the props you use, how long does a typical photo take to set up and what’s your process?
Length of time depends on what I'm decorating with! Oftentimes, the placement of the words on the board takes me just as long, IF NOT LONGER, than putting the props down does, haha. I love when the spacing and symmetry of the quotes is bang on! That being said, the props can take a while. Generally, the bigger the props, the less time it takes. The smaller, the more finicky and picky I become in how they fill they space of the picture. For instance, donuts and peonies and Christmas bulbs are pretty large objects, so those ones might take me anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get those ones laid out, taken and edited. But the ones with smaller details, like the candy-covered board, or any colour gradient of flowers, can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour; and it can take that long because of how choosy I am! I lay them out, take a picture, study it, move things, take another, and over and over until my heart SINGS with the creation of something that was born in my mind, now laying in front of me in real life. I love every second of the process. It's incredibly meditative and fun for me.
Which photo are you most proud of? (Humble brags are allowed here.)
I am probably the most proud of my leaf gradient photo and my Irish blessing photo, simply because to date, they are the ones that have taken me the longest to make, and I am just beyond in love with how they turned out. 
It looks like you’re always on an adventure! What’s your favorite place you’ve been to recently?
Oh wow! Yes! I love, love, LOVE travelling and being outside, seeing new places and trying new things! Most recently, I found myself back in the mountains of Jasper (I live 3 hours from there, and 4 from Banff) and was taken to a place I thought I knew (Old Fort Point Lookout), only to discover back trails and views that completely took my breath away. I love travelling outside of Canada -- it's a big world to explore -- but I am also a huge believer in exploring the goodness that your own country has to offer! 
If you had one tip for an aspiring flat-lay artist, what would it be?
Editing. I think that it's easy enough to look at the literal millions of flat lay photos on instagram and learn how to do them by mimicking another picture's look and placement of props, hopefully eventually finding your own style, BUT...good light and a well-cropped photo, topped with a filter that flatters the photo and makes it crisp or moody, is what takes it from average to excellent, in my opinion. Aaaand also (I'm cheating, you said one, but I want to give two.) spacing/placement of your letters and objects. Having it look symmetrical or at least moving things around until it looks "right" (not necessarily equal, but balanced) is what I think makes a photo nice to look at and super important to me when it comes to creating them. 
And finally, what’s currently on your letter board?

I currently have 3 quotes on 3 of my boards: on my white one is the last one that I took a picture of: "Comparison is the Thief of All Joy." 

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Zion Forever Project

đź“·: @zionforeverproject

The Zion Forever Project is a non-profit that helps maintain Zion National Park, the third most-visited park in the United States. These beautiful parks don't take care of themselves, and one of the Zion Forever Project's many undertakings is supporting over 40,000 children through the Junior Ranger Program each year.

First of all, tell us what we're looking at in this photo.

Mark and I are standing on the banks of the Virgin River in the shadow of the Temple of Sinawava—the gateway to the world-renowned Zion Narrows. This is one of my favorite sanctuaries in the park, a space where it’s hard not to marvel at the majesty of Zion Canyon.

How would you describe Zion National Park to someone who has never visited?

Zion National Park is love at first sight. Even if you’ve seen a thousand pictures, there is nothing that prepares you for Zion’s immense beauty and peaceful presence. Your first (and fiftieth) Zion experience will be full of awe and wonder as you see and feel the overlay of majestic sandstone canyon walls, stunning trees, plants, and wildlife, and the life-sustaining and feature-creating Virgin River. As our guests describe it, Zion is a “place of profound inspiration” that “is a part of our world heritage.”

And how many visitors enter the park every year?

Zion welcomed 4.5 million guests in 2017. We are now the third most-visited park in the National Park System, with more visitors than both Yellowstone and Yosemite.  

Tell us about Zion Forever's role and mission.

As the official non-profit partner of Zion National Park and Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring National Monuments, the Zion Forever Project understands that these sacred places do not take care of themselves, and in order to prosper and remain vital, they must have a community of supporters reflecting all walks of life, experience, and circumstance who care deeply for their future.  

Our Forever team strives for excellence in the work we do for the park every day, but we rely on the innovation, creativity, and capacity of our partners to help save what we all love. One of our central goals, inspired by Zion’s superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh, is to find a way for everyone who has a meaningful connection to Zion to find a way to contribute. We need your vision, your energy, and your talents to accomplish our mission.  

As parents of little ones, we love the Junior Ranger program. What could a participating Junior Ranger expect in Zion?

As children and families participate in the iconic Junior Ranger Program at Zion and our sister parks Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring, they connect to the parks on a deeper level through activity-based learning. With the Junior Ranger booklet in tow, families explore these parks looking for clues and learning fun facts about the park. Junior Rangers can identify native plants and animals and better understand Zion’s unique geology. After completing their activities, Junior Rangers are sworn-in by a park ranger and promise to protect our National Parks. They also receive a badge that mirrors those worn by park rangers.

How many Junior Rangers participate ever year? And what does that cost the Park?

In 2017, 40,000 children and their families participated in the Junior Ranger program at Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring. A fact many visitors don’t know is that these signature park programs are not funded by the federal budget. In Zion, Cedar, and Pipe, this program is funded by the Zion Forever Project. The Zion Forever Project is committed to safeguarding Zion’s Junior Ranger Program and is looking to raise $53,400 to ensure that this experience is available to all children and their families in 2019.

Why is this program so important to maintain for the park?

A lifelong connection with nature occurs most profoundly when developed during our children’s formative years. Zion National Park and the Zion Forever Project are committed to making sure that all children who come to Zion are able to participate in this deeply meaningful program regardless of their ability to pay. We know that as they do, we are helping build the next generation of park stewards.

What sort of outreach is done for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit a national park?

Junior Ranger is one of several programs that the Zion Forever Project supports as we look to Inform Tomorrow, a central driver of our Mission at Work. Over the last 5 years, the Zion Forever Project has helped bring 600 students from Nevada’s underserved schools to Zion for 3 days of ranger-led educational experiences in an award-winning Concrete to Canyons program. Despite living only a short distance away, many children from Title I schools in Washington, Kane, and Iron Counties visit Zion for the first time on a Zion Forever Project funded Field Trip.

In partnership with our supporters, the Zion Forever Project funds summer internships for Utah’s college students interested in public lands careers, brings park rangers to Southern Utah classrooms for hands-on learning, and broadcasts distance learning lessons “Live from Zion National Park” to children from Atlanta to Puerto Rico. We are intentional in our effort to provide all children access to this special place.

And finally, how can we help make a difference? What's the best way to help support these causes?

Partnerships with stewardship-minded individuals and organizations, like Johnny, Joanna, and the entire Letterfolk family, are what are moves the work of the Zion Forever Project forward. Our partners bring hopeful energy, excitement, and action to the Zion Forever Project.

We believe that Zion has many supporters who would contribute to our work if they understood our mission, and we are grateful to Letterfolk for helping us share our stewardship message. Just as we look back with gratitude to the visionaries that set aside Zion National Park for preservation in 1919, our partners in 2019 will be remembered for their trendsetting contributions for Zion’s future protection.  

We need all of you: Children who connect with Zion the moment their feet hit the trails, Moms and Dads who believe that outdoor classrooms are an essential part of growing up, Grandparents who want their legacy to extend far beyond their family, and Adventurers who want to continue to discover Zion’s every corner. Discover a portion of our work that matters to you at, and join the Zion Forever Project.

Donate $10 & Get Free Passport

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A Fresh Shave

đź“·: @thefreshshave

 Who doesn't love shave ice? The Fresh Shave, a shave ice business on the island of Kaua'i, uses our boards for their shop and we couldn't resist asking them all about their delicious treats. 

While we haven’t had a chance to try your delicious looking shave ice, we love your photos! Tell us a little bit about you and The Fresh Shave.

It all began when we met in Spain. We graduated from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks) to become classroom teachers. Then we became parents, moved to beautiful Kaua’i, and eventually transitioned from the classroom to running a business together. Can you tell that we love adventures? At The Fresh Shave we offer a fresh take on Hawaii’s most famous treat. We proudly serve handcrafted shave ice with homemade syrups using real ingredients. Goodbye high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring, hello organic produce. On top of giving you a good time, we strive to inspire both our keiki and yours to think about the impact of their food choices on their bodies and the future of our planet.

How do you come up with those amazing flavors I see on your menu?

Pregnancy. Just kidding, kind of. Our keiki (children) inspire us to create fun and interesting flavors from in utero and beyond. In addition to seasonal offerings, we have a Secret Menu, and my favorite flavor on there was born from my latest pregnancy. It's called the DalĂ­, and it's our coconut syrup layered with Ghirardelli chocolate cream and chopped macadamia nuts.

What’s your best seller?

Our best seller is called The Fu Manchu--it's house-made organic strawberry syrup topped with fresh cut bananas and sweet cream. 

What’s your favorite part of running a business?

We love standing behind a product that we are proud to serve to our own children. It's a privilege to chat with folks about our sustainable practices--from sourcing locally to eliminating all single use plastics--then watch the magic happen as they take their very first bite of our shave ice.  

What’s the hardest part of running a business?

The work never ends. We strive to operate our business with the same mentality we had as classroom teachers, always asking ourselves, "What could we do better today?" With one location in Kaua'i and another in Long Beach, California, we are always on our toes.

What’s on the horizon for you and The Fresh Shave?

Next up, we are looking to expand throughout the Hawaiian islands. We are also wrapping up our franchising paperwork to make shave ice dreams come true all over the world. 

And finally, what’s on your letter board right now?

"Blue raspberries aren't real."

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Elopement Excitement!

📷: @nbork84 & @chandrabork

There's nothing we love more than a good love story, especially when a Letterfolk board makes a small cameo to announce those momentous moments that only love creates. So we couldn't wait to ask Chandra and Noah about their elopement and all the planning (or non-planning) that came with their special wedding day!

Let’s start off with this photo. Tell us about your story!

Noah and I met on May 17, 2015 at a karaoke bar on our first date. He sung two songs that night and captured my heart. Three years later to the day, we eloped at Boston City Hall. Not too many people get married on the anniversary of their first date, because it's not easy to match the days. But it turns out it's actually really easy if you don't care what day of the week you're married!

Was this a spur of the moment decision or had you been planning it for a while?

We both knew that we wanted to get married very early on in our relationship. Time flew and the conversations became more and more serious nearing year three, but the stress of planning a traditional wedding was overwhelming. We really wanted to have a moment just for us. There was a day early in the year when we both said let's just do it. Quickly we decided why not sooner rather than later? We planned the entire elopement in about three months give or take a week.

Looks like your pups were in attendance! Were there any other less furry guests at your ceremony?

So, not really … but kind of. Our dogs are a huge part of our lives and our relationship, and it was important to us that they were a part of the day. And although we were eloping in a very real way, we wanted to glam it up at bit. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in Boston on our wedding night, we had flowers, and I had my hair and makeup done. The ladies who did my hair and makeup were the first people I saw on my wedding day. They brought mimosas and made me laugh for an hour straight. The staff at the hotel was so friendly and supportive. The folks in the Clerk's office at City Hall were so sweet and the Clerk herself was incredible. We are so happy she was the person who married us.  

The only way we'd be able to share this with our family and friends was through photographs, and we knew how important that was. Our photographer, Taylor, and her fiancee, spent the better part of the day with us. Witnessing our wedding, carrying our bags, fixing my hair, and holding our dogs in between shots. We can never repay them for capturing these memories. She was the one who got the "we eloped" shot on the letter board which we used to announce the news to our family and friends. 

When we walked outside of City Hall just after being married a construction worker took off his hard hat and wished us a lifetime of happiness. When we were taking photos in Boston Common people were clapping and cheering us on. We never felt alone on our wedding day, and all this unexpected support made it really special.

So let's talk about the logistics of eloping. Did it start and end there, or did you celebrate later with friends/family at a reception?

Eloping was our thing and it was special for us. Those days we really did keep to ourselves, but our private ceremony is actually out of character for us. We both have very big and close families and both of us have collected a ridiculous number of close friends. We knew when we decided to elope that it wasn’t going to be in order, but we would find a way to celebrate with our people. We are having a party with family and close friends at the end of this month at one of our favorite restaurants. There won’t be a seating plan or those awkward speeches, but we will be surrounded by those we love, and we can’t ask for anything more than that.

How did your friends and family react?

Our wedding evening and the following morning were spent calling, facetiming, and texting our family. We had no idea what reactions to expect but every call was a good one. People were so excited and happy for us. Their reactions were nothing but positive. It was a huge relief. I keep telling people who ask about how our families took the news that eloping is really easy and if someone truly loves you, they will love you no matter what.

And finally, what’s on your letter board right now?

Uh oh. So, confession: our letter board is the same as it was on our wedding day. But our excuse is that we have been so busy going on a mini-moon and planning our reception that we haven’t had a chance to change it! BUT both of our letter boards are going to be a part of our party. We plan on using them to share our wedding hashtag and to welcome people to Boston!

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Debt Free

Debt. Most of us have it. All of us hate it. From school loans to credit cards to mortgages, most have us have been acquainted with that dreaded four-letter word. Getting out of debt is a long, arduous journey, but thanks to stories like Kimberlee's, we know it's possible. When she posted her "Paid in Full" letter board photo, we knew we had to learn more about her journey and share her inspiring feat. 

đź“·: @cuppakim

We were so excited to celebrate your debt freedom vicariously! Tell us a little bit about your journey.
I had always considered myself "good with money" (I'm a numbers person, a math nerd, a spreadsheet junkie), but in the fall of 2016 I tallied up my monthly debt payments (mostly normal things — car, home improvements, student loans, and a small credit card balance that never seemed to go away) and realized how much money I had obligated to things of the past, and nothing to hold for the future. I was shocked, and extremely motivated to take care of business. I started the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps immediately, including the "debt snowball" which is the processing of paying minimums on all debts and then throwing every dollar at the smallest balance. Once that is paid off, you do the same and "snowball" those funds to the next smallest. I set a goal for myself and got to work. It took a couple of months to really get a good groove going and to figure out a budget that worked for my life. But once I did, things started really coming together and the snowball was rolling. It took me 20 months to pay down $52,000 of debt.
So how does it feel to be debt free? 

It feels so great. I've been debt free for a little over a month, and every so often I am reflecting about how much less complicated things are without all kinds of bills and payments going out every which way. It is exciting that I can now focus on the future, and most importantly, I have more opportunities to give generously. As a believer, I find it super important to be generous and a good steward of what I have been given. Becoming debt free was a big conviction I had, and I know that the Lord is the one who is the giver of all things, and I want to be wise and do the best I can with what He has given me.

I saw that you mentioned Baby Step 3 in your post, what does that mean?

Baby Step 3 is saving for a 3-6 month emergency fund. I am getting started on that ASAP. I will definitely be doing a six-month fund, with a little extra cushion. Since I'm single and a homeowner, the responsibility is solely mine if anything happens to me. So having a good safety net is super important for financial peace.

Who helped you the most with support and whatever you needed during your journey out of debt?

Literally everyone around me. My family, friends, and coworkers were all cheering on the process. I won a cash prize at my company Christmas party, which went almost entirely to my debt snowball, and seeing how excited and happy everyone was for me was incredibly encouraging. My coworkers were always championing me on payday. My family was so supportive and I'd get a few meals from them when the budget was extra lean. And my friends were always asking about the debt snowball.

Did you do anything fun to celebrate?

The day I became debt free my sister, dad and I went to a nice lunch — my treat (and in the budget!). I went to France two weeks later, all saved for with cash. It had been my goal to become debt free before doing this vacation so that it would feel like a real celebration. I also bought myself a nice handbag that I had been saving for. I feel like I celebrated to the max! And now it's time to get to business on Baby Step 3.

Any tips for those of that need some encouragement to get out of debt?

If someone is looking to get out of debt, the first step is to find out exactly how much debt you have. A lot of people, like me, don't realize how much debt they actually have until they total it up. And then the most important thing is to create a budget. Add up your monthly necessary expenses and you'll know how much else you can put toward debt. I used to hate the word budget, but I have learned that a budget "gives you permission to spend" without guilt. I actually have my budget loosely typed out through the end of next year. I have a plan for saving up for Baby Step 3 and beginning Baby Step 4 (which is saving for retirement). I know what is coming up and how much money I should have to spend on the necessities, as well as the fun stuff and my next travels.

And of course: what’s currently on your letter board?

My current letter board is inspired by my France trip. I like to do a letter board for each trip and then I use that photo for the back cover of my Shutterfly Album and iPhoto Album. It says "DE TOUS LE LIVRES CE QUE JE PREFERE C'EST MON PASSPORT," which translates to, "Of all the books out there, my passport is my favorite." I read a few other great books while I was gone, and I think I found a quote or two for my next board!

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