Friday, June 6


With this month's Behind the Brand, we want to introduce you to our sweet friend Attalie. She has been making her line of jewelry, Shades of Grey, since 2009. Incorporating vintage and natural materials like leather and ribbon, Shades of Grey jewelry is defined by its heavily textured and complicated geometric shapes and layers. Recently, we visited Attalie in her (amazingly beautiful and light filled) home studio and got the chance to see her process in action. It was beyond cool observing how she creates each piece with such grace and ease. Attalie just introduced home accessories to Shades of Grey, with a line of absolutely gorgeous wall hangings. Needless to say, we're smitten! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand.
I started my jewelry line, Shades of Grey, in 2009, but I started making jewelry long before that. I'm not sure where my background in art started specifically, but growing up, I was always making and creating. There were always projects happening at home when I was growing up...everything from sewing and painting to woodwork and sculpting. One favorite project i remember most was making a series of several miniature interiors that were constantly in progress or changing. I made everything from the furniture to the rugs to mini accessories for the unseen inhabitants. Later in school, I studied painting and was doing a lot of that. Then I went to college at a liberal arts school in Asheville, North Carolina and studied art history along with multimedia design and computer science.

The community there is very arts oriented and it was very inspiring. A lot was happening there, especially at the time...tons of arts, crafts, politics and music. I felt like digital was sort of the next step in art and was very into this crazy avant garde online thing that was happening at the time. Then I focused on more technical aspects of this, like building websites and other programming. Post college, this is what I did for work for a long time and it was really taking over my life. I started to feel like I was losing the more tangible creative side of myself, so I started making jewelry for myself at some point and later took metalsmithing classes. This was a long process, but now I do digital design and programming on a freelance basis and I have my line and am starting my new interior accessory project so it feels a lot more balanced.

What does a typical day look like for you?
It really depends, every day is totally different. I normally begin by answering emails and packing/mailing out any orders that are ready to go. From there, I'll move on to research for new pieces or other projects, production work, or freelance projects depending on the day. I love lunch meetings, even just meeting up with a friend for a catch up, so I try to have these as often as possible. At some point, I'll go on a long walk or run to get some outside inspiration. During the evening, I'll keep working into the night if I have a lot going on or if I'm just really into whatever I'm working on at the time.

What is inspiring you right now?
My favorite blogs literally change weekly, but right now I'm loving Wide Eyed Legless, almost makes perfect, Into The Gloss and Local Milk.

I love Instagram (obviously!) I mostly follow other designers and artists and a few of my favorites are @sophiebuhai, @amy_merrick, @elizabeth_suzann, @love_aesthetics, @nativetextile, @theresesennerholt, @kellywearstler, @designlovefest....and about a million more :)

I listen to podcasts all day while I'm working. My favorites include After The Jump, Freakonomics, and Welcome To Nightvale.

Lately I'm into researching minimal pottery and learning new techniques. Learning new things in general is very inspiring to me. I love documentaries and reading nonfiction about different historical periods and movements...the more eccentric the better. Also, I just discovered the PBS channel on my AppleTV. You can stream basically any episode from any show from PBS so I've been watching this nonstop lately!

Also, I'm definitely inspired by other designers. I love working at events and meeting other local designers and talking about our individual experiences.

What do you do outside of Shades of Grey?
My recent huge obsession is pottery! I go to the pottery studio anytime I can fit it in....ideally a few times per week. Other places you can find me are: working at Gaslight Coffee, going to shows at Empty Bottle, Lula Cafe or Scofflaw for drinks with friends. I love browsing magazines at Quimby's and flowers at Asrai Garden. Shopping for vintage clothes and home items in Pilsen or California Ave. Also, I love going to art galleries and movie theatres, but it's hard to choose a favorite! I love that Chicago has such a wide assortment of galleries all over the city.

What is your advice for artists and designers that are thinking of starting their own business?
I need to follow this more myself, but put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone! Also, don't keep company with people who bring negative energy into your life.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Attalie! Want to get your hands on something special from Shades of Grey? Visit Attalie at the Chicago Renegade Mini Market on June 21st and 22nd! Or you can shop Shades of Grey online here. And don't forget to like Shades of Grey on Facebook and follow on Instagram!

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