When we were first introduced to Grins & Grace, we instantly fell in love with their Witty APPAREl. Our Appreciation for the company grew even stronger when we met with founder and designer, Melissa Lyons!
Let’s start with you telling us a little bit more about yourself!
I’m Melissa Lyons. I’m a mom of two kids aged 2.5 and under, military wife to a handsome outdoorsman, and the founder + designer of Grins & Grace. I grew up in small town Michigan and moved to NC in 2006 to be near Ft. Bragg with my husband, Jon. We have come and gone in the past 10 years (#armywifelife), but found ourselves at Ft. Bragg a second time in 2012. I’ve been a maker for as long as I can remember. I also have an avid sweet tooth, a deep appreciation for leggings/sweatpants/etc., and function best when I have been well-fueled on coffee. (If you can survive motherhood without sweatpants and coffee… well, you deserve a trophy or something.)
We couldn't agree more on that last part! When thinking of your family of origin or extended family what are the major themes or traditions that emerge?
My husband and I both come from families that value good ole’ American ingenuity and the skill of crafting by hand. My husband grew up building homes with his father who is a finish carpenter, which has resulted in me living a life knee-deep in sawdust. As for me, my father built each of my childhood homes and my mother is also a talented creative, so those attributes were bound to stick on some level. We both were raised to value hard work, manual labor, and crafting items by hand.
Have any of those themes or traditions continued into your own family?
Definitely. Most of the furniture in my home has been crafted by my husband. Our dining room table, my gorgeous headboard, and even my pallet shelving unit hanging on the dining room wall. (My husband didn't see the vision on that last project but had to trust my judgment.) We love to go antiquing and repurpose items in our home. Our kids will hopefully value these same ideas, though I am sure they won’t appreciate it until they are older. (Isn’t that always the case?)
So very true! We would love to know more about how you met your spouse.
Uh, oh. Nerd Alert in 3… 2...1... we met civil war reenacting. Yes, yes… I know. We both grew up with a love for American history and for me, a love of stitching clothing by hand with my grandmother, Grace. We met in July 2002. He was 18 and I was 16. He had already enlisted in the Army and I knew the moment I met him that he was the one. (He had to be. You don’t exactly attend a civil war reenactment to find the love of your life.) We were inseparable that summer, until basic training seperated us two months later. The next four years were predominantly spent apart with training, deployments, and his time at Ft. Bragg, until we were married in 2006 and I moved to NC.
How do you juggle home life while running a growing business?
I have two kiddos. They are 21 months apart, which results in me feeling knee-deep in motherhood most days. Since I am all about honest motherhood, I’m going to keep this real. I struggle with balance and juggling it all. It's not easy. It takes a lot of sacrifice. I wish I could be one of those “bad-to-the-bone” boss ladies who have it all together with some great tips on how to also achieve balance. But alas, I am just a mom trying my darndest to also run a fun business that helps put a smile on another struggling mom’s face. (Even for just a quick moment, wedged between chugging cold coffee and yet another diaper change.)
We so value and appreciate that honesty! What would you say has aided most in the growth of your business?
My most valued aid in the growth of my business would be the many cherished relationships that I have with other creative, hard working women. I have connected with so many talented women in the past years, most of whom are fellow military wives. They offer support when it is needed, validation when I feel unworthy, and are there to celebrate big wins over cupcakes and sangria. (After the kids bedtime, of course. Who can enjoy a cupcake when you have to share it with a toddler?) They have challenged me to move on to bigger better things and are always available for me to test new ideas on.
If you’ve ever experienced a difﬁcult season, what did the season teach you?
Honestly, I always feel like I’m in the middle of a difficult season. (Did I mention I’m knee-deep in motherhood?) Everyday is a struggle to make time for myself and for Grins & Grace. Having two children in the midst of very demanding ages results in “me time” being virtually non-existent. But in the back of my head, I hear a faint voice (pretty sure it’s my mom’s) saying, “This too shall pass.” And it shall. I am learning to accept a slower pace with Grins & Grace in order to soak up these precious days with my little demanding darlings. In a few short years, I’ll have a little more free time and I’ll be fully prepared to hit the ground running in business mode. But for now, I’m trying to be a mom to my littles while running a pretty rad little business on the side.
Could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the name, Grins and Grace!?
Of course! Grins & Grace has several layers of meaning. The business name is directly inspired by my giggly little girl who is always full of smiles, and whose middle name also happens to be Grace. She is named after my grandmother, who taught me the value of being a handmaker. The business name also sums up my mom-inspired designs: they are totally grin-worthy, yet tasteful. Most days, tackling motherhood requires a grin on your face and lots (and lots) of grace. So it seemed to fit.
We fell in love with your slogan, “Funny Mom Apparel Inspired by Honest Mom Moments”, and that each new collection truly embodies this. If you had to guess, which item or collection has been your most popular and why?
By far, the most popular design to date has been the “Hot Mess & Happy” tee. Most days it’s exactly how I feel. I apologize for being a “hot mess” everywhere I go. I started to wonder, “Why am I apologizing for this?” I think every mom relates. Motherhood is exhausting, and us moms come last. So the better answer is, “Yep. I’m a hot mess, but I love this mom life.” To most, I probably look like a sad, frumpy mess, but deep down I would never trade it for anything in the entire world.
What does your ideal day look like?
I can’t even fathom what the word “ideal” implies here because it’s never about what I’d prefer! Can I say that my mom is in town and I get to sleep in until 8 a.m. and then go get crepes with the girls over HOT coffee? Then maybe I’d go to the spa and be catered to by someone else. (Although the spa would imply that I have to shave my legs…) So maybe I just get to go shopping somewhere in complete peace and quiet. But let's get real here. Ideally, it would be great if the baby slept through the night and I didn't have to get up with a geriatric dog…resulting in eight peaceful hours of slumber. Then, we make it through the day with no toddler tantrums and both kids napped at the same time, giving me a teensy break. That would be great. I guess a mom can dream, right? (This too shall pass, this too shall pass…)
On days that life doesn’t go exactly as planned, how do you recharge?
I wish I had an answer that sounded super cool and inspiring like mountain climbing or jogging in the rain… But honestly it would be a snack smothered in frosting and junk tv. (Oh gosh, that sounds awful.) But seriously though, when I need to recharge (which I almost never get to do) I just need to check out for a bit and watch mindless tv in complete and utter silence. And to not have to share my snack.
What activities do you like to do on nights and weekends to unwind with friends and family?
My husband and I love the outdoors and we are huge homebodies. We also have a toddler who thrives when she is outdoors, so most weekends you’ll find us tackling an outdoor project of some sort or helping said toddler feed her “chick-chicks,” AKA our suburban yard chickens. On weeknights you’ll typically find us in bed by 8:30. My husband and I both prefer to be early risers… made possible by copious amounts of coffee.
Spring Break and Summer are right around the corner. Do you have any fun trips planned?
We are super excited to venture out this summer with the kids, as they are both approaching such fun and magical ages! We have a toddler who is starting to chit chat and who has reached a stage where she finds joy in everything. We also have a baby who is approaching his first birthday and finds everything new, interesting, and best of all, entertaining. We really hope to visit a few museums in Raleigh, visit our favorite beach in Wilmington, and my husband and I are hoping for a little getaway (minus kids) to the mountains in Asheville.
Lastly, if you had to sum up your life in three words what would they be?
I’d have to say my life is blessed, busy, and fulfilling. I really hope this hasn't come off as a Public Service Announcement for why not to have kids. Our children are seriously the greatest things that have ever happened to me and raising great humans is bound to be a tireless and challenging. They are obviously my greatest source of inspiration and Grins & Grace would not exist if I had never met them. My husband and I struggled for years to start our family and I feel so blessed to not only be married to my soulmate, but to now have two vivacious littles. Our life is super busy, so it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but this is also what makes my life so fulfilling. I’m doing important work. Not only do I get the opportunity to stay home and raise our rambunctious children, but I also get to give moms a reason to laugh in the morning when they get dressed and put on their tee. Because yes, we are a hot mess… but we are sooooo happy.