In 2013, Maggie Mielczarek stepped away from her career as a high school art teacher to start her own business. It was a bold move given the shaky economy. Then again, having an accomplished painter for a mom might have given her a little added boost. After all, Maggie’s dream wasn’t simply to teach art, but also create it.
What ultimately drove the decision was her love of Leland, a Northern Michigan “Fishtown” where she grew up vacationing with her family. The idea was to export the essence of this unique part of world and bring it directly into peoples’ lives. Maybe even make it a way of life. This is how her company, Leland Gal, was born.
Since then, Maggie has parlayed her love of textiles and eye for design into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. What sets Leland Gal apart are her original oils and watercolors. Inspired by scenes of Fishtown, Maggie’s paintings serve as a graphic design element, imprinted on everything from curtains and throw pillows to hoodies and serving platters. To put a stamp on things, the Leland Gal logo features a line drawing of the cherry tree growing in her grandparents’ front yard, just outside of town.
With eight employees, a store in the heart of Fishtown, and a strong online presence, the company is earning a growing reputation among retailers from coast to coast. As with any small business, the momentum has brought its share of challenges. Among them was the question of how to articulate the many things Leland Gal stands for. After four years in operation, the company needed a brand essence—a tagline it could build upon for years to come.
When Maggie approached Reese Creative to write the tagline, she needed a phrase that could quickly bring to mind the Leland Gal vision. In a few short words, the company needed to appeal not only to new and existing customers, but also retailers and buyers experiencing the brand for the first time. And, like any tagline, it couldn’t be long-winded.
Maggie’s input for the tagline was as inspired as her company vision: she wanted to express the feeling you get when the clouds pile up over North Manitou Island, or having brunch with friends on Van’s Beach. That said, the focus couldn’t center entirely on Leland. The brand had to travel to the places where her customers spend their everyday lives. The goal was to make people feel they’re part of the Leland Gal experience, no matter where they call home.
Make light of it
Landing on the right tagline was a fairly instantaneous decision. With several strong contenders already vying for attention, Maggie latched onto Make light of it almost the moment it was presented. She liked that it was a reinvention of a familiar phrase. The idea can be taken literally to convey the energetic color palette the company is known for; or thematically, to give people an excuse to relax and celebrate life’s simple pleasures. It also gets people involved, encouraging them to roll up their sleeves and “make,” design, create, and do more of the things they love.
Look for the tagline on all Leland Gal products in Fishtown, at fine retailers, or online at lelandgal.com. While you’re at it, Make light of it.