Each month we feature a woman in business who personifies what it means to be a Business Betty- she is confident, smart, stylish and successful. Do you know a woman that you consider a Betty? Tell us about her by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Gray is an Apparel Retailer & Promoter of Individual Style. We help women look their best and feeling confident about their style choices.
What inspires you?
The beauty and balance of Nature. The way Nature mixes colors during different seasons. The abundance and difference of choices. Nature never wears black head to toe. Also, chaos. I love big cities. Chaos helps us to zero in on what’s truly important.
What’s the best part of owning your own business?
Managing my own time and being flexible is a most important thing to me.
How do you keep your business current?
I am a compulsive reader and news junkie. I never stop learning about what’s new out there and what’s different. My brain can pick up on slight differences of the known status quo and register change of trends. I also follow a lot of people who are the best at what they do and try to learn from them.
What is your most popular product?
My number one item in units and sales volume for the past 6 years is a slim 5 pocket pant in cotton double stretch fabric. It looks good on everybody and everybody calls it “the best fitting pant.” If I could choose an accessory, it would be our modal scarves from Italy. Digitally printed by hand, they are a work of art and make great gifts for oneself or others.
What is the one tool you couldn’t live without?
A Pen. I have 3 very good Apple products next to me most of times, yet I prefer to write down my notes, ideas, thoughts, sketches in a small notebook. “Dumping my brains” on paper also helps me to get unstuck when I feel overwhelmed and out of focus.
How do you relax?
Hiking, cooking, and reading are my ways to unwind. I like a long walk in the woods with my dogs. Cooking all day on Sunday for my family and friends is fun. I read every day. There are at least one or two books laying around.
What is your motto or theme song?
“All we need is Love.” Really. I often finish my conversation with family, friends, even customers with “I love you.” Meaning I value and appreciate you. My grandpa used to say that “to love is to be kind to each other.” We lost him young, but he was a most kind and fun person I’ve ever known.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a list of phobias under my belt – spiders, bees, insects, darkness, deep water, heights, crowds, needles. You name it and there is a chance I have it. Yet, I am a future oriented person who constantly works on my own issues.
I take spiders outside with a tissue, I try not to run away from bees, I took swimming lessons, I know that if I stand on a ladder a bit longer it will feel better…We need to look our fear in the eyes and take baby steps forward. No one has respect for old people with phobias.
What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received about your business?
I closed the shop one day and was going to my car when I ran into an old time customer whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She realized we already closed and started crying. I gave her a hug and took her inside. She was recovering from cancer, had extreme skin sensitivity, and was frustrated with clothes. We worked that night to put together a small wardrobe for her that addressed all of her needs. A year later I saw a radiant woman walking into Kate Gray. She said – “You made me feel beautiful and stylish again that day. I wore everything we picked together over and over again. I have my health and my confidence back. Thank you, Kate.”
To make a difference in someone’s life, even a small one, is the best compliment of all.
How did you get started?
Around when I was 5 I started begging my grandma to teach me how to sew. At 10, I made my first pattern after signing-up for clothing construction class. I always has been interested in clothing, fashion, arts. Growing up, I’ve tried to do several things outside of stylish realm, but I wasn’t fulfilled. One day I saw a small hiring ad from Yale Genton and took that opportunity to learn the art of retailing, thinking I would love to open my store someday. I took a plunge when that iconic store closed. 7 years later, Kate Gray has made a brand for itself.
What do you do when you’re having a bad day?
If I have to be around people, I breathe deep and continue going, putting issues aside for a while. If I can take a break, nothing clears my head and heart better than a brisk walk or a meditation.
Connect with Kate
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