This week our Dream Job Diary subject is Stephanie Ray , founder and creative mind behind fashion line Grayes.
Before she found her place in the fashion world, Stephanie was actually on track ot become a lawyer. While in law school, she struggled to find workwear she actually wanted to wear that didn’t feel stuffy, boring or uncomfortable. When the office clothing world didn’t provide the fashion forward pieces that Stephanie craved, chic dresses with office-friendly hemlines, blazers with style, and trousers for work and play, she realized she only had one option: she had to make them herself. So that’s exactly what she did. And so Grayes was born.
While her classmates were getting jobs and law firms and writing the bar, Stephanie was creating her own fashion line. Her mission was to provide everyday pieces that express your personal style, celebrate ambition and empower you to feel condiment at work – and beyond. And that’s exactly what Grayes became. The line soft launched in 2016 much to the pleasure of working woman everywhere.
We got the chance to chat with Stephanie to learn about how she created her dream job.
What is your official title? Do you have one?
I am founder & chief visionary. I feel like this title is appropriate and accurately describes my role. In the early stages as an entrepreneur, I found myself doing absolutely everything – from high-level strategy to minutia like setting up a pop-up or fulfilling an order. I didn’t want to have an executive title (such as CEO) because, in reality, a huge part of my job is not spent on executive level work. At this stage, I do absolutely anything and everything that’s needed to push Grayes forward – no task is too small or too big. I believe it’s so important when starting a business to understand all the different components and intricacies of the company and everything I do is working towards evolving my vision for Grayes.
What accomplishment/achievement are you most proud of?
Definitely starting Grayes! It’s so amazing to see my vision for Grayes come to fruition. To see women walking around in Grayes and coming back to buy additional pieces is extremely rewarding! I also love receiving emails from customers letting us know how much they love our product and how excited they are about what we’re doing and to see what’s next!
Is this a job you attained or did you create it for yourself?
I definitely created this job for myself. I was on track to become a matrimonial lawyer when I decided to shift gears and pursue my passion to create a women’s workwear line. Once I committed to pursuing Grayes, I started by learning everything I could about the industry – meeting with industry veterans, attending conferences and reading. Eventually, through networking, I found the team who ultimately helped me bring Grayes to life.
How did you get into your current line of work?
Grayes began with a need I identified while I was in law school. My closet was split into clothes I actually liked and workwear I bought for interviews, presentations, and networking events. I struggled to find work-appropriate pieces that I loved. I felt forced into awkward suits with no personality when really, I was searching for chic dresses, blazers and pants that could work in the office and after hours too. I’d often find myself carrying a blazer and not wearing it until the last minute, or changing immediately out of a suit because I didn’t feel good in it. I believe you should feel like yourself in your work clothes, and that you should love your 9-to-5 wardrobe as much as your favourite pair of jeans, which is exactly why I created Grayes.
Did you go to school/get training for your dream job?
I have an undergrad degree in finance from NYU Stern School of Business and law degree from Fordham University. But I don’t have any technical fashion design education or training. That part of the business I have learned along the way working very closely with our amazing design team, who I am so thankful for. Nevertheless, I do believe my education has been extremely valuable in bringing Grayes to life. There is so much more to Grayes (or any clothing line for that matter) than just the design and manufacturing element. Understanding all components of a business, from the finances to contracts and marketing, is so crucial to the success of Grayes. Since I come at the business with a very different, non-traditional perspective, I have found to be extremely valuable.
Get your Grayes fix online at grayes.com and at the awesome pop-ups and events that Stephanie appears at.