Friday, August 30, 2013

The Unsung Generosity of Lisa Frank

Did I ever tell you my Lisa Frank story? It really is quite charming. This memory is about 25 years old so details like dates and exact contents may vary slightly. But it is true, and it did happen.

For those of you who don't know, Lisa Frank is a person, an artist and a company. She founded Lisa Frank Incorporated at the age of 24. She is known for her use of bright colors and cute, glossy eyed animals on stationary and school supplies. Designer Jeremy Scott's Fall 2012 show even featured a corset covered completely in Lisa Frank stickers.

Found this pic of the corset on the Squaresville blog. Link attached to pic.

When I was a young girl in the 1980's, Lisa Frank items were among my most coveted. I always have had a thing for stationary items and I thought her designs and colors were nothing short of magical. They were practically tailor made for me. Today I am 34 years old and I have still not outgrown rainbows and lollipops. But anyone who has grown up in a military household can vouch for the fact that there is not always extra money for things like colored stationary and erasers with unicorns on them. Although the belt was tight most times, we had the things we needed. Food and the like. But like I tell my daughter today when there are similar tight belted times, there is a difference between things we desire, and things we require. Money set aside for desirables, my daughter and I call "foolish money". I use that phrase so that I don't deny her request for some desired object by saying "I don't have any money", because those words can terrify a child like mine who tends to worry. If I say "We don't have any foolish money right now", she knows that the food and house and gas money are still there and she has nothing to worry about. She just can't attain her desirable right this minute.

So going back to nineteen eighty-something, I would always stare at the various multicolored, animal adorned items but have to walk away empty handed because my allowance just wasn't enough to cover it. So one day while I was holding a package of stickers or pencils and turning it around in my hand just to admire it all, I noticed an address on the back that you could write to if you had questions or concerns. Well I had a question. How come this stuff meant for little girls was too much for little girls like me to buy? I asked my mother to please write down the address for me, and as soon as I got home I broke out the (non-decorated) paper and pencil and wrote Ms Frank a heartfelt letter. I remember saying:

                               Dear Lisa Frank, 
                               I really love all your stuff but I can't get any of it 
                               because I don't have enough allowance. Can you 
                               please lower your prices so I can buy some?

                                                                                      Love, Brandy

I asked my mother to mail it, and waited to see if my request would be heard. I checked the prices in the store a time or two to see if my letter writing had made a change. But without the internet, without knowledge of how the world works outside of "the best things come to those who wait" (thanks to the ketchup commercial), that was all I could think to do.

I don't remember how much time passed, but maybe a few weeks later (said with uncertainty) a package arrived that was addressed to me! What? You can imagine the excitement and wonder I felt. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't Christmas. Who would send me something? In a big box! What could it be? OHMYGAWDWHATISIT?! As the scissors finally cut the tape on the box open and I got a peak inside, you could almost hear the fairy dust in the air. My eyes got big, my mouth fell open, I sucked the air out of the room. I was so confused and shocked and...just...*cue freak out*. It was a box filled with Lisa Frank goodies sent from Lisa Frank itself! My first ever Swag Bag. And I swear to you, any swag bag I could ever receive in the future will never hold such magic and wonder and mean so much to me as this box from Lisa Frank did. Paper and stickers and pencils and folders, probably a Trapper Keeper in there. I was too busy having my first orgasm to remember if there was a letter accompanying all the plunder. But if there was, I now desperately wish that I had kept it. This was also before my family became a people of shutterbugs, so I don't believe that we even have a picture of it. But trust me when I say, and my family backs up this story, that this absolutely did happen. Some WONDERFUL person at Lisa Frank took pity on a girl with a small allowance, a dream and a taste for brilliantly colored school supplies festooned with adorable animals, sparkles and rainbows, and sent her a veritable smorgasbord of dreams come true.

I wonder how many other children they did this for. I wonder if those kids remember it like I do. This event was such a landmark occasion in my childhood. It totally backed up my already present belief that dreams come true, good people and generosity exists, magic is in the hearts of people everywhere and if you believe it, you can achieve it. What a wonderful person this was that sent me so much more than just stickers and paper. They sent me a lifetime of fairy dust, magic, hope and the desire to give people the same feeling that I felt that day. To this day, my room is decorated with brightly colored objects of all sorts. Lisa Frank isn't just for little girls. It's for the little girl in all of us.

Let this be a lesson to those reading. Little things you do can influence and inspire someone else their whole life long. Let your words be kind and uplifting, let your actions be selfless and generous, let your mind be kind and your heart filled with love. Let your inner child live on and overrule your bad habits of letting cynicism enter your mind. Be bright. Be a beacon. You can touch one person and change a lifetime. All this from a box of stickers, you say? Yes. All this from a box of stickers. No kind gesture is too small to give hope to someone who is willing to receive it. And to whoever it was that sent me that box of childhood fantasy, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your thoughtfulness has never been forgotten.

Back in my letter writing days. Campaigning for fair pricing for kids.

Still today, Lisa Frank continues to inspire young girls. Just a few minutes of clicking around on her website showed me things like an easy to follow "how to" feature called A Girl's Guide to Following Her Dreams, an empowering and informative article called Sunshine for your Self Image, and something that you've seen me write on often, at home DIY beauty treatments for young girls called Beauty By Nature. How fun is that? Lisa Frank, you go girl!

Another example of support and encouragement to be found on the Lisa Frank website.


  1. Omg I love this, I loved Lisa frank so much when I was growing up too ( maybe not as much as you) lol. This blog entry was awesome, and that pic of you looks just like lily!

    1. Thanks for that. This was definitely one of my favorite ones to write. I cried a few times even. LOL

  2. Love your story! I loved Lisa Frank and used to keep all of the stickers that I could get my hands on. I can also relate to the small allowance and know what it is like to want some of those things and not be able to buy them. That was so sweet for them to send you a bag of Lisa Frank goods! I only wish I would have thought of that way back then! lol

  3. Brandy, I will always forever remember you for your magical, girly ways. I had no idea that Lisa Frank had been so generous or made this impact. Thank you so much for sharing this monumental moment in your life. And yes, it does make sense now why you have been able to keep your optimism despite e everything. What a wonderful blog post!