This post has been a long time coming and it feels so good to finally be ready to hit the “Publish” button.

Over the past five months, Greg and I have been working on a fun and exciting project that’s been in the concept phase for almost three years. As some of you may know, we started selling prints over on Etsy late last year. It has always just been the “7th House Etsy store” with just a few prints, but we wanted it to be something more. Five months ago, we decided to finally bite the bullet and dig in full force. We didn’t want to just amp up the Etsy store, but we wanted to totally refresh the efforts and eventually build a brand. Ahhh, “brand” sounds so legit!

Before the designing, programming or detail-planning could begin, we had to come up with a name. As I mentioned earlier, it’s always just been the “7th House Etsy store”. Not only did we want something fresh and new; we felt it would be much easier to differentiate the store from the blog if we separated the two and came up with a whole new name just for this project brand. We wanted something fresh and classy, yet meaningful to us. After a lot of list-making and text messages to our families for their input, we finally decided on Brown & Barkley.

Clearly, the first part of the name is our last name but though the connection seems obvious, there is a bit of a funny background there. If you’re one of my close friends, you know that my marrying someone with a simple last name was like a breath of fresh air. My maiden name is Lunsford. Growing up, people would constantly mess it up… Lumpsford, Langsford, oh and the most popular, Lungsford. It became a joke with our family that we always had to spell it phonetically… “L-U-N as in Nancy-S as in Sam-F-O-R-D… Ford as in the car.” To this day, my friends still tease Greg and say I just married him for his last name.

As for the second part of the name, Barkley was Greg’s stuffed toy dog when he was a kid. Barkley still hangs out at Greg’s parent’s house and won’t be leaving anytime soon. He’s around for good. Barkley was named after Lake Barkley – the lake in Kentucky where Greg’s grandma lives. Greg spent many summers on Lake Barkley growing up and it’s a place that’s near and dear to his heart. For that reason, when going through possible names for the brand, we kept coming back to Barkley. Thus, Brown & Barkley was born.

With a new venture comes branding. Last night we unloaded all of our new materials on the kitchen counter, and I have to admit, I got a tad giddy. For me, the branding has probably been the most exciting part of the process. Greg’s been more excited about the programming and Excel spread sheets. He’s such a geek. I’ve done a lot of branding for both large and small companies in the past, but there’s something about branding your own baby company that gets you excited, anxious and nervous all at the same time. All in all, I think what it comes down to is freedom. You have the total and complete freedom to make a brand have the look and feel exactly the way you want it. In that aspect, Greg and I have been my worst clients. Ever. We’ve gone back and forth on everything from colors to kerning. But now, after quite a few sleepless nights, we have stripes, worn letters, kraft paper, sunshine yellow, Washi tape and even a fancy ampersand. In other words, we’re happy campers.

As for the future of Brown & Barkley, for now we’re sticking to art prints, but we’ll continue to add new prints regularly. Down the road, we’re looking forward to carrying different products such as custom rubber stamps, stationery and other paper goods – including Washi tape! Holla! We also set up a small, super-simple “business card” site that has links to both the blog and the Etsy store. It won’t stay like that forever, though. We’re in the midst of designing a full fledged, totally legit online store – which will probably launch around the same time we start offering additional products.

Since we’re already gushing about our childhoods, plans and dreams, we want to take a second to gush about you, our readers. It’s because of you that we’re able to do what we do and we seriously can’t thank you enough. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try! It means the world to us that you take a few minutes out of your busy day to stop by and see what we’re up to. You motivate us, support us, make us laugh, and are oh-so patient. We couldn’t ask for more. Thank you so much!