Together, Again: Kelly and Marie Gray’s Holiday Perfect Grayse Collection
Being the daughter of St. John cofounders Robert and Mary Gray, Kelly Gray has big shoes to fill in the fashion industry.
Before she was old enough to drive, Gray was performing administrative tasks and became the original face of the brand. By age 20 she was named creative director and, by 30, she became CEO of the $400 million company.
Now, she’s branching out on her own — with a little help from mom.
The mother-daughter designing duo are back in business together behind a collection of casual, versatile separates and dresses known as Grayse.
Their latest collection is holiday party ready, featuring lattice leather jackets and plenty of embellishment and sparkle.
“When the opportunity came to work with my mom, again,” Gray tells PINK, “I just couldn’t resist.”
“She [mom] was playing golf one day and got injured,” says Gray, “She started coming into the office and we began collaborating.” One design led to two, two to four — and, before they knew it, they had a collection.
Wisely, the pair plays to their strengths. Though both are active in all areas of the business, Marie heads up design and Kelly leads merchandising.
“She [mom] designs five to every one of mine,” Gray admits, “I’m more of a merchant. I like to put ideas together and take one idea and turn it into a story.”
And, her stories are playing out nationwide in eight Bloomindale’s locations.
How did she do it?
“We took the designs to a friend, Frank Doroff, senior executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Bloomingdale’s,” shares Gray, “and he was willing to try it out in one store. Now, we’re in eight.”
The label has since enjoyed steady growth — even offering exclusive designs to Bloomingdale’s shoppers.
“We visit the stores to meet associates and customers personally,” she says, “Our relationship with our customers is what drives us forward.”
It was the St. John way, and now it’s the Grayse way.
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By Sonya Washington and L. Nicole Williams
“If the family were a boat it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles.” Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Photo credit: Grayse.com
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