Today we’d like to introduce you to Gracie Blumenstein.
Gracie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started my costume and fashion company, Grax Designs when I was 16 years old in Seattle, WA. I come from a long line of seamstresses, artists and designers, so I grew up around sewing machines and many different mediums of art. My first piece was a purple purse that I stapled together and presented proudly to both my Grandmas (both seamstresses). I was given a complete sewing kit later that year and vowed to never staple garments together ever again. I started creating ready-to-wear and formal gowns in high school with the skills I picked up from costuming. Most my fashion garments draw inspiration and construction details commonly seen in theatrical costumes for this reason. My school loved to put on the most extravagant and difficult shows- with my first ever project being Les Misérables.
For those unfamiliar with Les “Miz”, it’s an extremely difficult musical with intricate sets, almost no dialogue and hundreds of complicated, historically accurate costumes. I’m going to be honest: this show nearly killed me. I was costuming 50+ actors, trying to juggle 3 AP classes and also running a side hustle of selling scrunchies (I’ll touch on that a little later). Many of my theatre peers and friends through class were impressed by my dressmaking skills due to this production. They wanted me to create their prom, homecoming and even wedding dresses. I had no idea what to do except for one thing- I needed to create a brand and business. In 2015, I bought my domain and created Grax Designs.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The journey has not been easy. Starting a business at age 16 is difficult for anyone. My business became an escape from all my stress of school, personal life and college applications. The concept of investing so much time into a consistent idea hypnotized me. I learned web design, marketing strategies, social media management and inventory to run my online store while I worked on pattern drafting, draping, sewing and designing skills. As you’d imagine, this was too much for a 16-year-old. It’s still too much for me now, and I’m 20. Wearing all the hats in a freelance and e-commerce business is difficult. Independent businesses always teeter on success or failure, which is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. There are times I’ve invested too much money into my brand, or sometimes not enough. Projects and ideas have been reformed, changed or just scraped. It’s just the act of creating and doing that lights my path.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I technically run three businesses – Grax Designs: my largest company which specializes in freelance costume design and custom garments, Hair Heaven Los Angeles: my hair accessory brand that originally sold on graxdesigns.com until I rebranded, and Blue Brix Media: my marketing start-up designed for young entrepreneurs in e-commerce. I’m definitely known for Grax Designs. It’s been my baby for almost five years now, and I’ve had a wonderful time watching it grow and evolve.
Grax Designs was first known as a scrunchie and formal gown brand. Scrunchies were the craze at my high school way back in 2015. I was literally “the scrunchie girl”. Every month I sold around 200-500 scrunchies. Since I already had a platform for selling my designs, I integrated my scrunchie side hustle onto graxdesigns.com for ease.
As of late 2019, Grax Designs is a freelance costume business for theatre and film, and a custom garment commission company. The scrunchies have been moved and rebranded into our sister company, Hair Heaven Los Angeles. Grax Designs is unique due to its range. We offer anything from historically accurate Regency gowns to skin-tight superhero suits to modern wedding dresses. We are open to any type of customer or challenge, which sets us apart from the single-aesthetic and style brands. This year, I’ve been offered a plethora of opportunities due to Grax: I attended the Emmy’s, lead costuming & wardrobe on a feature film, designed a couture-style prom dress and networked with so many talented individuals.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a wild child. Most people knew me as “the werido” who wore princess dresses to school while simultaneously beating up the boys during recess. I was bullied through all of my public school experience, typically by the popular girls and older boys. I would channel this through rage, which is still a problem I have today. I’ve loved sewing and designing since I was very young, and it was the only activity that kept me grounded and calm. My mom tried ballet, music lessons and volleyball as means to keep me focused and passionate, but sewing is the only passion I’ve kept consistent my entire life.
- Gown Commissions start at 100$
- Cosplay Commissions start at 50$
- Hair Accessories (Hair Heaven Los Angeles) Price Range: 4$ to 19$
- Website: graxdesigns.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: graxdesigns
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graxdesigns/?ref=bookmarks
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/company/grax-designs/
Roland H. @celestialcapture; Linette B. @linettelb; Sabrina Y. @tamperedphotography; Hector @hextorphotography