Mom to Melody // Founder and Creator, Love Lettering

Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal

Doris Wai radiates positive energy. We visited Doris at her home office and studio and left feeling energized and inspired. We chatted about a podcast, her recently published book, her daughter Melody, and what her biggest struggles are.

Your work space is so clearly integrated with your living space.

My office is upstairs and that’s where I do most of the administrative work. The dining room and the area near the window are where I do large-scale lettering pieces for Love Lettering. I work on Posecards™ in the basement. 

Tell us about Love Lettering and Posecards. How did you start your businesses?

I used to be an office manager for an import/export food company. It was a great environment, I enjoyed the work and I was there for a few years. I learned how to wear a lot of different hats and to be adaptable and efficient, since it was a small company. Unfortunately growth in the company was limited and with the yearning to spend more time with Melody, my daughter, who was two at the time. I decided to pursue my passion for lettering and see if that would grow into a business.

Love Lettering is my main line of business where I hand letter onto beautiful objects – for events, home decor and gifts. I’ve published a book where I teach people how to hand letter beyond paper. I also have a YouTube channel where I host tutorials to show people how to use lettering in their lives every day from decorating, to parties to thoughtful presents. This channel is called The Lettering Lifestyle

“I would love to write another book! It was a true labour of love from the design to the content inside, I poured my whole heart into it. I’m going to spend more time this year promoting it.” You can buy Doris’ book, Extraordinary Hand Lettering, here.

Posecards™ are designer photo props and photo prop greetings. They were designed for the big and small celebrations of everyday life and perfect for outside the photo booth, and perfect for selfies.  They are for every occasion you need to buy a card, Christmas/Valentines/Birthdays etc., as well as those moments Moms cherish forever like the first day of JK and the moment they lose their first tooth. 

How do you divide your time among your various lines of business?

Previously, most of my focus and energy has been on Love Lettering. This year my goal is to devote at least 50% of my time towards Posecards™ since I feel like in the long term, it could be a more sustainable line of business. 

You are constantly creating! What are elements of your work that you really enjoy? 

I love teaching! So the YouTube tutorials, the book and the in-person workshops that I host are all extensions of my work that I really enjoy, where I get to share my love of lettering with others. As a teacher, I really enjoy helping people get over the misconception that lettering is really hard or takes a very long time to perfect. There is that element of perfection, for sure, but I teach that the enjoyment comes through the process. I love adding words to an already beautiful object. 

Doris was recently featured on Sidehustle School where she talks big tips for first-time business owners.

Conversely, tell us about your struggles with the business.

Well for one thing, I have SO many ideas. It is a real struggle for me to focus on just one idea at a time, because I want to do it all! And of course, learning to let go sometimes and realize that it’s ok not to spend 100% of my time thinking about my business.

Do you feel like there are one or two things that have helped you succeed?

Working a TON of customer service jobs! From working at McDonald’s to being a waitress, it’s been best way for me to learn how to manage people, how to deal with customers and how to talk to people face to face. 

Dealing with people is a super important skill to have. And not just dealing with them but leaving them with a warm, great feeling inside after interacting with you which is something you’re honestly so great at. 

“I keep this pretty pillbox in my purse for when I need Tylenol. I just love having beautiful little trinkets around to make everyday items a bit more special. My purse also will always have a calligraphy pen, sketchbook, chapstick and cream.”

Do you draw inspiration from specific sources for your work?

Have you ever read the book Steal Like an Artist? That really resonated with me. Most of my inspiration comes from within – it’s what I want my life to be. I want to leave a creative legacy for Melody. I’m literally inspired by everything – I want to spend more time travelling so that I can absorb what’s out there in the world. 

Speaking of stealing like an artist…your work is so beautiful and original. Have you encountered others who are a bit too heavily ‘influenced’ or ‘inspired’ by you? And how do you handle that?

I try not to focus on copycats, but redirect my energy towards moving forward and constantly innovating. I really don’t mind people being inspired by my work – it’s flattering! But just don’t claim it as your own. I just try to avoid negativity and drama in my life overall, so I don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.

We can’t help but notice your beautiful Christmas tree…sitting pretty in your living room in March.

I used to be obsessed with having the perfectly decorated tree, with ornaments placed exactly where I wanted. Since having the business, I’ve completely let go and Tan and Melody just go for it. It’s not perfect, but it’s done.

A testament to just letting go.

Yes! And the fact it is still here in March kind of shows you where I’m at. 

“A big part of my YouTube channel is encouraging people that lettering can be a part of your everyday life.”

Absolutely, we’re all busy and we all prioritize differently. Speaking of busy, hit us with your typical day.

I wake up around 7:30am and make breakfast for Melody and our dog Pepper and I walk her to school. My perfect morning would be spent eating and reading (I’m loving Michelle Obama’s Becoming right now). Usually in the mornings I’m taking care of emails, administrative work and social media. I pack some orders. Even though I work from home, I rarely spend my time doing housework – Tan takes care of laundry and cleaning. I’m always focused on the business. 

“ I created a storybook character for Melody called ‘Miserable Melody’ because when she was little, she never smiled! I want to write a children’s book series around different activities where Miserable Melody doesn’t seem to enjoy herself, but at the end of every evening when she’s being tucked into bed, she snuggles with her mum and finally smiles. Melody is the main reason I do what I do, because I want to leave a legacy for her.”

Melody comes home for lunch every day so she’s back for an hour around noon. I usually book meetings in the afternoon – lunch meetings at 1pm are the best because I get to eat and get work done at the same time. Tan works for the TTC so he’s up early and goes to bed early. So after Tan and Melody go to bed around 8pm, I spend the evenings working on lettering.

It sounds so peaceful to be able to have the house to yourself and just work away.

Sometimes I’m up until the late hours! You’ll see my Instagram stories at 1am or 2am!

We’ve totally seen those stories when we are up late at night ourselves. 🙂 When do you squeeze in time for yourself?

I make a lot of time for myself. I get my lashes done and it took a few years for me to get over the guilt of just sitting there for a couple of hours, not being productive. But it makes me feel good and I’ve just let go of the guilt. I’m really social so I like going out with friends or attending industry events. 

Time to talk favourites. What are some of your favourite tools to use?

For lettering, I love Stabilo All and Bohin France mechanical chalk pencils (seamstresses use these). 

Favourite Instagram accounts?

Right now I love @newdarlings, @goodtype and @kiss925 specifically to watch clips of the Roz & Mocha Show, they are hilarious.

Favourite TV shows?

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules…any reality show where I can just listen to the drama without actually having to watch!

Favourite meal?

We eat out a lot! Like 5 times a week. We love going to Hunter’s Pizza. 

Favourite ways to spend time with Melody?

Pottery, painting, going out to eat, crafting together and Candy Crush! 

Favourite things to buy when travelling?

I love picking up tools or stationery as souvenirs! Like a cool pair of scissors or a tape dispenser. Anything that is beautiful and useful.

We really admire Doris for so many things – her passion for what she does, the motivation to keep on creating and innovating in her field, and her ability to stay up past midnight on a regular basis. 😉 To check out Doris’ latest work, be sure to visit her website, YouTube channel , and buy her book here.