Photos by Caleb Smallwood.
While many 20-somethings are fantasizing about chasing their dreams while they waste away at a meaningless job they hate, 29-year old Molly Grace is turning everything she loves into her dream job.
This petite, fast-talking woman is fiery, full of passionate ambition and a welcoming addition to the thriving downtown Winston-Salem arts district. Grace has a vision to enrich the community through creative expression and she is off to a solid start. In addition to being a mother, waitress, human rights activist, artist and musician, she also just added small business owner to her list. Owning her own unique business is something she has always dreamed about, and life just happened to throw her enough curveballs that led her to accomplish this goal.
Grace holds a degree in Theatre Arts and has acted for many years, but that career and “years of living wretchedly poor in big cities” came to a halt after her son, Abbott, was born five years ago. In search for a more economically stable life, she took on teaching middle school language arts. While beloved by her students, her liberal mindset and outspoken attitude led her wanting more. She began more deeply exploring her creative side. A friend convinced her to submit paintings to a juried show at Delurk Gallery when she casually mentioned that she painted as a hobby—resulting in becoming a collective artist at the gallery.
Grace then went back to her first love of teaching as a long-term substitute teacher for another middle school but realized she wasn’t quite fulfilled. A self-proclaimed collector with an unhealthy obsession over Pinterest, DIY crafts and all-things interior design, Grace decided she wanted that to become her focus, but she needed a space to showcase the abundance of talent and quality handmade goods she was constantly “pinning” and “liking.” More than that, she wanted a place where she could combine her loves for creative instruction, design, and community collaboration. So, Kleur was born.
A year ago, she showcased apparel from designer and owner of Formation Design Studios, Amanda Vaughn-Redmon, and handbags from Narrow Lines owner, Emma Wallace, on her online blog. Shortly thereafter, Wallace and Vaughn-Redmon became equal partners with Grace of what is now a quaint storefront on 6th Street between Trade and Liberty downtown.
Kleur, a consignment lifestyle boutique and makerspace, is a business the Triad has needed. Coming from an all-artistic background and possessing a keen awareness of how many artists and makers struggle to make a living off their skilled craft alone, Grace aims to provide low-cost workshops with little time commitment. These makerspaces are growing in numbers in cities across N.C., but Kleur will stand out from the rest due to Grace’s unique views.
Grace’s workshops are special because they focus on fine-tuning skill, confidence-building, especially for those taking on a newfound trade, as well as how to effectively present and communicate their abilities to a public forum. By being a low-commission consignment shop and working toward a nonprofit status, Grace and her partners are almost doing this as a labor of love. All three ladies juggle full-time jobs to pay bills and operate the shop to truly benefit the artistic community before themselves. They appear to be doing this almost solely to help the community and provide an outlet for up-and-coming artisans to develop their skills and showcase their work.
“The shop is always changing,” Grace says when asked about her favorite parts of owning Kleur. “Next month it won’t look anything like it does now.”
Featured makers are often found via Instagram, Pinterest, email, scouting local colleges or by makers-calls that are periodically announced on their website and social media. The boutique showcases reasonably priced goods and many one-of-a-kind designs. Shop for anything from hand-made apparel, knives crafted from hand-foraged steel, canvas prints, used books, hand-crafted camera straps, unique home décor to beard oil and a soon-to-be tool share program.
“The shop is always changing,” Grace says when asked about her favorite parts of owning Kleur. “Next month it won’t look anything like it does now.” Grace makes it easy to keep up with the current makers occupying the space through custom profiles on the website. Some of the makers will teach the workshops Grace tacks on every week. Kleur hasn’t been open long, but the calendar is already full of exciting workshops.
Free or low-cost workshops in screen-printing, floral design, candle-dipping, embroidery, ornament/wreath making and poetry are just a few features on the books for this month. Perhaps one of the most unique workshops, which Grace hopes will be a recurring one, is a sensory poetry workshop where all senses will be incorporated in exploring poetic expression. Grace promises whiskey, cigarettes, coffee and exploring sensory and emotional connections through food and drink in this unique workshop appropriately titled, “Mediations on Coffee, Booze, and Cigarettes.” Without a doubt, Kleur is guaranteed to be a one-of-a-kind place that will quickly become a favorite spot for many Winston-Salem residents.
Aside from hosting $10-$12 workshops in a wide variety of different artistic mediums taught by field professionals, Grace is promoting what she calls “gentle activism” throughout the workshops. Human rights groups are welcome to fill the space and host meetings. She hopes to encourage open-minds and community building by providing these open forums for discussing societal issues during scheduled workshops. Book club meetings are also in the works to be a recurring event, one for adults and one for youth, where current affairs and literary works can be shared and discussed.
While Kleur may look like a cutesy consignment storefront with a rustic but clean aesthetic, Grace hopes it eventually becomes synonymous with community involvement. A spokesperson for Winston-Salem Community Alliance for Racial Equality, Grace believes in grassroots movements and small groups of people coming together to make a difference. During an embroidery workshop, feel free to open up about gender equality. Or, while learning how to pick seasonal bouquet accents for your next floral arrangement, bring up public education politics.
As if managing a makerspace with big ambition, rearing a feisty five year-old son, waitressing, creating commissioned art and representing social rights groups isn’t enough, Grace is also recording her first album. With the help of Eddie Garcia, Grace found the confidence to openly explore this other creative talent. The album is a collaborative work with Rural Hall-based Americana musician, Tyler Nail, and together they will form an outfit dubbed Grace and Nails.
Grace wants to bring a new level of creative collaboration to the Winston-Salem and Triad communities, which will be a very exciting, rewarding process to be involved with. If interested in submitting work, shopping online or registering for workshops, visit their website here. Also follow the shop on Facebook or Twitter. Visit the shop Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Molly Grace also occasionally performs at local galleries, coffee shops, Reanimator Records and probably the shop in the near future.