Grace & Stone Collections - Michelle Higgins

We started Grace and Stone Collections just over five years ago.

We wanted to create something that was our own. Spurred on by my passion for styling and passion for design and Andy’s creative side.

We got married in 2013, styled the entire thing and realised there and then we had the ability to do more with it – and many of our friends shared a similar sentiment, which is exactly what kicked started us, and has kept us going all this time.

After the wedding we honeymooned on the NSW north coast and decided randomly one day to just dive in and do it.

We went down to a store in Nimbin and picked up an art folder and pencil, headed back to our cabin and spent the next few hours just doodling designs and trying to think of a business name. In all honestly, most of the time we spent trying to think of something we both agreed on.

And that is where Grace & Stone was born – we opted for something more timeless (and a lot more appropriate!), the middle names of Molly (Grace) and Murphy (Stone) and Collections was just a chance to bring everything we do under one umbrella.

Starting this business was a timely thing too following the loss of our son Will, who I carried until six and a half months. That was a really tough time for the both of us and Grace and Stone morphed from this, it allowed us to redirect our focus away from that grief and really inject that energy into something positive.

And it was a massive test. It was a huge step away from my 13-year career working in retail at Beach Street and Andy, a sign-writer by trade who made a living working in the mines, turned stylist on the weekends. It’s been a huge few years and somehow I still managed to keep up regular shifts working in Zink and Rip Curl in Kiama during the weeks.

We’ve been lucky though; the business was built on reputation. Our first real event was my sister Amanda’s wedding and then we did a lot of our friends and it’s just gone from strength to strength organically from there. We’ve barely had a weekend off in five years. Looking back, that is pretty amazing – and probably why I’ve got such cabin fever now!

The past few weeks have been devastating for our industry. It’s one thing to cancel or postpone an event, but people don’t realise that most of the venues and suppliers in this space aren’t just losing a stream of income, they’re losing the entire thing. I’m one of the lucky ones, Andy has another job but there are so many others that are husband and wife teams, this is their life.

You can’t help be inspired by the resilience. Everyone has remained positive, trying to do what they can and use the time to get on top of things that have been parked or neglected because they haven’t had the chance to stop and do it.

For us, we’ve got a relatively new warehouse that is desperate to be cleaned and organised, we’re getting our website finished after years of going back-and-forth and we’re still taking enquiries and scheduling phone or video consults.

We’re using this time to catch up on the business that gets neglected because we’re so busy running the business!

In recent months we had started expanding on traditional styling to keep things creative and more so to incorporate the things (‘Collections’ proving a wise choice, Andy!) we’re most passionate about and support the business outside the wedding windows.

Our florist, Matilda, has been getting right into running workshops for Hens parties, girls’ nights – anything to get together for a wine, get creative making wreaths and arrangements to spend time with friends. It was going so well and something we’ll continue to expand on again when the time comes.

We’re a preferred supplier for many businesses and venues which we’re beyond grateful for, including Bush Bank and we’ve been so fortunate to have developed such a great relationship with Sonya.

When there was a quiet period a few years ago she gave us the opportunity to host events beyond the realms of a wedding or one of ours – or her - usual events. This was an opportunity we grabbed because I’d been longing to run something to support women and business owners like me – business owners who were exhausted, shattered and looking after everything and everyone but themselves.

That’s where the idea of the wellness retreat steamed from and it’s become a real passion project of ours. I’m super grateful for the incredible Leanne – The Kiwi Yogi – and her support with this, it’s been such an inspiring experience and I’m really keen to expand on this once thing settle down.

And for those needing a little retreat at home, Leanne is running free yoga sessions on YouTube at the moment and I can’t recommend it highly enough! She’s had to close her studio but has continued to find opportunities to keep her business alive. These people, these stories, this is the spirit that will see people get through this otherwise crippling time!

And we will. Right now, we’re just chugging along, business as usual as much as possible. Working from home to keep up with what we can. We can’t wait to get back into it with all our consults in a very clean warehouse - soon!


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