Next up in our Meet the Maker presented by American Express, we have Hallie Gray of Graymarket Design. We can’t get enough of Hallie’s colorful home accessories and textiles. I mean, can we talk about her gorgeous block printed scarves for a second? Perfect for the pattern-obsessed. If you want to check out all of Hallie’s goods in person, you’ll be happy to hear that she’ll be joining us at Re:Make SF! Have YOU signed up yet? Head here to get your free ticket!
Alright, ready to hear from Hallie? Here’s her story.
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live and work in Berkeley, CA. I have an art studio in West Berkeley, in the industrial part of town. There are factories and warehouses intermingled with small wineries, studios and an active railroad, and I find it a really authentic and inspiring environment where it’s easy to be productive and creative. I love being outside, and recharge by hiking, rock climbing and doing yoga. I started Graymarket Design about a year ago, and it’s been an exhilarating (and humbling) journey so far!
Why did you decide to start Graymarket Design?
I’ve always been a tactile person, and I love designing patterns and working with color. I have degrees in International Relations and Textile Design, and ever since I started traveling and discovering different textiles around the world I’ve been intrigued with the idea of starting a company that could combine the two. I have a deep respect and appreciation for traditional textile techniques, and feel very committed to helping create a market that can help support and preserve these practices. I also prefer the aesthetics of fabrics that have been hand printed or woven — I find a lot beauty in imperfections and irregularities, which are inherent in any textile made with human hands.
I started Graymarket Design to create a company that featured an assortment of livable home accessories featuring high quality, hand-made textiles. Getting the chance to work with and learn from different artisans and create a space where different textile traditions come together has been really amazing.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
Creating is a gratifying process.
What does the making process look like for you?
Most of my products are block printed, so I’ll outline that specific process. All new collections begin with a color story, which gets printed out and used as a reference. Next I create the designs, which I draw in pencil and then scan to my computer. I use digital design tools to scale and tweak the designs, and also put them into a repeating pattern.
When I’ve got the repeat design finalized, I have to create a document outlining how I want the wood block to be carved. I also have to give Pantone numbers for the cotton dyers. I send this info to my workshop in India, and once they’ve carved the block by hand, mixed the dye and printed a sample, the physical samples of the cotton are sent to me to approve. When the samples are all approved, the full textile collection is printed and then we have the cotton sewn into the finished products.
We LOVE your textiles! Where do you get your inspiration?
Thank you! I am seriously always getting hit with textile design inspiration. Especially because I love textural prints and small scale designs, I’m constantly stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of cement texture, or a cool aged brick wall, or moss, or the repeat of a cool succulent. I feel very tuned into the patterns around me, so I really can’t walk a block without seeing something mundane that gives me an idea for a textile.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
I think people are compelled to make a certain thing because it brings them joy on some level. When you turn a hobby into a business and things scale and get busier, producing the thing you make can start to feel like an obligation. I think it’s important to position yourself in a way that allows you to still get joy from making whatever you make, and allow it to be a process that you can lose yourself in and get a lot of satisfaction from.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I don’t have a ton of time for hobbies these days, but I do love to play around with making jewelry and painting. I’m also just learning to cook, which requires a totally different kind of creativity.
What’s up next for you?
I’m getting busy enough that I’m needing some help, so will be bringing in an assistant to help with the everyday running of the business so that I can focus more on the creative side of things. I have so many ideas for new designs and products, and need to make sure to expand in a smart way. In the near future I’d love to release a more expansive bedding collection, and am exploring new cotton blends for a future scarf collection. I’d also love to collaborate with a ceramics artist to create a table top collection that goes with my table linens. I’m excited to widen my circle of collaborative textile partners and introduce new products in the coming year.
Have you fallen in love with Hallie yet? Then don’t forget! She’ll be joining us at Re:Make SF on September 13th! Stop by Fort Mason to check out her gorgeous textiles.
This series is a collaboration with American Express. Visit the Shop Small® website to learn about how you can take part in Shop Small, a movement to celebrate small business.