Today is a big day for my little company! Lea Alcantara, my EE Podcast co-host of two years, is joining Emily Lewis Design, LLC as Lead Designer! More than just my co-host, Lea has become a trusted friend and our relationship is the best professional collaboration of my career.
If you are lucky enough to know (of) Lea, you know that she is genuine, fun, straightforward and, of course, talented. She's also my perfect teammate. She is on the same page as I am when it comes to details, priorities, deadlines, integrity and client value. And she brings qualities that I tend to lack.
Of course, hiring Lea wasn't just so I could work with the best designer and ExpressionEngine expert I know. Our clients now get a kick-fucking-ass team of one of the best female web designers and one of the best front-end developers, both of whom can seriously rock a CMS. Like Butch and Sundance, we are impressive individually but unstoppable together. And as much as that level of self-pimpage makes me uncomfortable, it is true. We've proven it with the EE Podcast, with our own businesses and with our contributions to the community. We'll continue to prove it.
How We Got Here
I'll let Lea tell her own story, but the beginning of our latest collaboration started with a phone call in May that Lea would be moving to Seattle in June. Due to US foreign worker laws, Lea wouldn't be able to continue running Lealea Design and, as a result, we couldn't keep doing the podcast in its current iteration. Lea had come to terms with closing her business, but neither of us wanted to walk away from the podcast.
While we had never really talked about it, I had thought (dreamt) about working with Lea more formally. Turns out she had too. (Though I suspect we both imagined a more planned and official partnership, as well as a less-rushed timeframe. But I've learned opportunity never shows up at the “right” time. It just shows up and you better fucking grab it.)
And so we decided that I would hire Lea. She would bring what clients she could over, and we would continue doing the podcast through ELD. It would allow Lea to work while living in the US and would get us on the path we both envisioned for a shared company.
Since Lea is a Canadian national, it wasn't just a simple process of hiring her. We first needed to address her worker status. Then I needed to get my company structure and accounting ready for an employee, including registering my business in Washington.
Those three sentences are the most microscopic tip of the iceberg of what we each have had to do in terms of paperwork, consultants, lawyers and more paperwork. But we both plan to blog about the details of those experiences over at the ELD Blog in the coming months … so I won't bore you with it all here. Suffice it to say, it was a shit-ton of work in a very short period of time with a lot of uncertainty.
And totally worth it. Now that all of those one-time ordeals and requirements are over, Lea and I are focusing on what we're doing, what we want to do and how we can continue to contribute.
Where We're Going
Our immediate focus, of course, is our current clients. Continuing to give them the same quality and reliability they expect from both of us. We are also seeking new projects. Now that we can offer Awesome Squared™, we are aiming for larger-scope projects and clients that need full-cycle design and development. In addition to targeting larger projects, we are also considering the types of clients we want to work with; who we can get passionate about and help the most.
Beyond that, we plan to rebrand. I have to admit that, even now, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of an established professional like Lea working for a company with my name. It just sounds weird and feels weird. And it was weird to try and get Lea's personality and a team message into my site that was originally designed from an individual freelancer's perspective.
Rather than investing too much of our time now trying to make my current site and brand (hah) work with our new structure, we will be renaming ELD, probably in the next year. There will be a gorgeous new brand (courtesy of Lea's genius, of course), new messaging, new design and possibly a new CMS.
We're also planning some changes with the podcast. And, as I mentioned, we'll be blogging more from the new ELD Blog (if I'm lucky, I'll blog here more often too). We will both continue to be involved with and support programs like Web Standards Sherpa and Ladies in Tech, as well as conferences like Converge and events like those from Environments for Humans.
So, please stay tuned! There will be much awesome.