Charity West, proprietor of Mercy Grey Design Co. came into our sights sometime over the summer – how we missed her prior to this, I don’t know, but I do know we’re happy to have made the connection.
West has the succinct fortune of making her home in the same state as Pendleton Woolen Mill, giving her access to the Mill factory. Yes, those rich, vibrant colours, native Southwest-inspired patterns, and the wool fabric the folks have been enamoured with since the the beginning of the Indian trade blanket boom in the early 1900’s.
She paired her love of Pendleton wool with her design skill and the result is Mercy Grey Design – an outfit that designs gorgeous bags, clutches, backpacks – even diaper bags. Every Mercy Grey Design bag is designed and handmade right here in Portland with an eye for detail and the highest quality.
We loved our first batch order from the company and champion the virtues of staying small enough to ensure the quality of each piece, a value I believe resonates with West. Besides, we love anything 100% handmade, and we know our clients appreciate it too.
We wanted to find out more about her brand, background and day to day life, including how she manages to stay on top of the rabbit hole we all know as social media marketing.
Here’s our Q and A with her:
(Also, we decided to collab on a little giveaway – see details at the bottom of this blog post!)
How long have you been operating Mercy Grey Design Co.?
Five years in September.
What made you begin this journey?
Basically I needed a challenge. I was staying home with my three kids at the time and I’m the kind of person who likes to stay busy. In the early days I used canvas and made more utilitarian tote bags and backpacks that I would use myself and give to friends and family. I started using Pendleton wool and dreamed up styles that fit the western bohemian aspects of the prints. These designs were quickly picked up by online shops and bumbled my way through online sales and building a brand.
What are you favourite Pendleton patterns?
Walking Rock – The larger print black and white, super classic Pendleton.
Ranch Arroyo Black – Super classic black/ tan and teal in a diamond pattern. Goes with absolutely everything. You can dress it up or down and shows no dirt.
Harding Black/Tan – this is a new print/ color scheme and I love, love it. It’s a black and tan smaller print that looks amazing with bronze hardware.
What are the daily challenges of balancing your work with your family?
Time. Balance. Mom guilt. I have four kids. We can just stop right there, right? I’ve learned to work around the kids schedule as much as possible. I get up at 5:00 a.m. with my husband. He goes off to work and I head down the hall to my studio. I’m so thankful to have a studio in my home because it keeps consistency in my work and also with my kids. I’m grateful I can be there when they have days off of school or are sick. We intentionally have set up our life so things are as stress free as possible and stick to that.
When you think of “western lifestyle”, where does your gratitude land?
With flexibility and choices. We are so blessed to live where we do in Oregon. I’m so grateful that I can do the work that I do and use my creative talents while being present with my family and friends. The amount of opportunities that are out there is insane and with work and dedication there’s so much that is possible.
We’re all struggling with this, so I have to ask, what’s your best SEO tip?
I work with others and tag the companies along with the brands and even the makeup brands.
Smartest thing you’ve done with social media marketing?
Collaboration with others. Find others who are passionate about what they’re doing and work beside them. Be generous! Don’t make it all about your brand. Figure out what you can do to help others too and it will come back to you. Keeping consistently good content is huge and working with other brands that are cohesive is a great way to do that. Every summer I choose a course to take that helps with some part of my business I feel like I need help with. This summer I took a branding class and it was amazing.
Most entertaining person you follow on Instagram?
Busy Philipps lol @busyphilipps she is hilarious and totally reminds me of one of my best friends. Love her.
And most inspirational?
There’s so many women who are inspirational! So many different categories. Motherhood: @shan.tripp is my fav. DIY / Home style: I love @chrislovesjulia. Local business owner @mintjewelryco. I love photography –@kirstynlundquistphoto, @callaghancreative.co and @babydoetabor are three of my faves.
If you didn’t live in Oregon, where would you live?
I would love to live in Colorado. The mountains and rivers. Just so beautiful. We are pretty spoiled with being right in between the mountains and the ocean here in Portland so that’s hard to beat.
Current fashion obsession?
It’s all the corduroy jumpers this season! Also I’m a clog whore. They go with everything.
Favourite quality in a woman?
Confidence and honesty. I have little cope for people who put on a show or aren’t real. I will give you all the grace in the world if there is honesty. Life is rough and those rough times is what makes us relatable.
Favourite beauty standby?
A good concealer. I love using natural products like honey, coconut oil and some essential oils. I’m always looking for something new to try.
I tend to splurge on food. Yes, this sounds like a crazy answer to this question but food is super important to me. We don’t go out to dinner often, (four kids and all), like maybe a couple times a month. so cooking good meals for our family is super important.
Mojito or gin and tonic
Favourite Book of 2018
I don’t read books often these days. I’m a super lover of Audible and audiobooks. My kids know that the two things I will always say yes to buying is audio books and art supplies. I grew up on Harry Potter and watching Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings on repeat so I love fantasy and sci fi. Insert judgement here. Ha! One of my favorite series recently is by Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes. I tend to go for books with strong female leads with sass.
So, about that contest. MGD and C&S are collaborating on a contest and giving away a MGD bag! All you have to do is follow both of our accounts on Instagram and tag a friend on the contest post! Do it now, contest ends this Friday, Oct. 5!