Spotlight On: Gretchen Wagner of Thrive or Dye

Every so often, you run across someone who is so warmly genuine, kind, and positive that you can almost feel it before you even speak to them. That's the case with our spotlight today, Gretchen Wagner

I met Gretchen one night this summer when Victor and I went to Decatur to meet our friends Josh and Lauren from Home Free. They were celebrating a friend's birthday, so we joined them and had a blast! The birthday girl was Gretchen. She was so sweet and inviting, even though we were crashing her birthday party. As we chatted, I learned that Gretchen has a beautiful line of hand dyed goods cleverly called Thrive or Dye. It turns out, she already knew about Ends In Style because she knows Christina! Such a small, wonderful world sometimes.

We are so happy to introduce you to Gretchen Wagner if you don't already know her. She's a great lady and we're thrilled to turn the spotlight on her and her beautiful work today! She has an enormous amount of talent that inspires us. After reading this, I feel sure you'll want one of every single thing she makes!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

"I may be a one woman army when it comes to putting the pieces together, but it's the late nights drinking wine with friends while they help me put on the finishing touches where the magic really happens. I take pride in that the work is all produced locally and by me. Maybe I'm a quality control freak but I like knowing that every piece I ship has been through my hands. Since I produce on a smaller scale, I put a little part of me into every piece and that's what is most important."

- Gretchen Wagner

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

How did you get your start?

I graduated from SCAD with a BFA in Fibers and immediately moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. With a less than "state of the art" studio I started out painting watercolors which eventually led me back to working in a dye lab with textiles. After a few years of building Thrive as a brand, I made the decision to take some time away from dyeing and sewing to recharge myself creatively. So, I exchanged my thread snippers for my paintbrush and here I am. Exploring and having the most amazing time reconnecting with myself and my art. That's always been my passion.

Photo by Christina Wedge 

Photo by Christina Wedge 

Was there one job or contract that set the course of your career?

This is a difficult question to answer, but what most people don't realize is that I actually work a full time day job for a radical company, Interface (www.interface.com). I spend my days working on their Creative and Marketing teams and at night I work on all this (waves hands) in my home studio. I've learned what it means to run a good and honest business, how to stay true to myself all the while staying creative and passionate about what I do. Interface is an integral part in supporting this vision of mine and the people are pretty great too.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

What is your favorite/most successful way to advertise?

I guess I rely mostly on social media, and by social media I mean Instagram. To me it's the only way to be. Everything about it screams visual overload and there are endless ways to connect with likeminded creatives. Of course I post my final "styled" shots but my favorite things to share are the works in progress where I can reveal something about my process or studio life. To me, running a small business is all about being transparent and showing your true self and what better way to communicate that than through pictures?

If there were one thing you could change about your career, what would it be?

I spent so much time trying to scale and grow my business only to realize that one of my favorite things is how small it is, how I get to call all the shots and how I get to say yes and no whenever I want to. If I want to laze around all weekend and do nothing but eat french fries and watch Netflix, I can. I can't even tell you how many times I've been swept up in the speed of all this only to realize that it's my foot on the accelerator. I'd like to go back and teach myself that lesson a little earlier. Life and art is so much better when you can take breaks to be with the people you love instead of feeling lonely in your studio.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

What is your favorite stress reliever?

Watching "Clueless", dark chocolate with raspberries, hot water with lemon and rummaging through my old sketchbooks (I save everything!).

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

What is your favorite destination?

I'm fortunate in that I get to travel a lot for my day job, but I'd have to say my favorite place to travel is Savannah. I take a few trips every year and try to take at least one solo voyage. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it's not, but it's the place where whenever I go back it feels like coming home. It's the best place to spend a weekend sleeping in, drinking coffee and biking to your next sketchbook stop.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

If you're even half as in love with Gretchen's work as I am, check out her website at thriveordye.com and her etsy shop! You've got Christmas gifts to buy and you're sure to find amazing things for everyone on your list with Gretchen! Shop small, shop local, and shop Thrive or Dye!