Member Peggy Gray has been a member of Valley Artisans Market since 2014 where she sells her handmade clothing. Here is her story:
Peggy Gray grew up in a family of sewers. Her grandmother, mom and aunts all sewed for as long as she can remember. “They made what were called broomstick skirts in the 1950s,” says Peggy. “They all had about 50 of them with wide elastic belts to match. My mother also made matching outfits for myself, my two sisters and our dolls. I loved standing by and watching her operate the sewing machine; it fascinated me, even then.”
She started working in the garment industry at the age of 18 because she needed a job, but never imagined she would eventually start her own business using many of the tried-and-true techniques that she learned along the way. “In a very short time, I was making clothes for myself and my daughter. By the time I was 30, I was working full-time and had my own side line business selling my own designs,” Peggy says.
“After working in the garment industry for 30 years and building up my side line business substantially, I decided it was time for me to dedicate all of my time to being a sole proprietor and designing full time.”
Peggy did just that and created her company, 22 Shades of Gray, in her studio adjacent to her home in Buskirk, New York, where she has a gorgeous view of the Green Mountains of Vermont. “My favorite thing to do is to come into my shop with a vague idea of what I want to do and just play with fabrics and ideas to see what emerges,” she says. Sometimes she is disappointed but more often than not she is pleasantly surprised with the results. Trial and error is still her best teacher even after 50 years of playing with fabric and garment design. Each piece seems to build from the piece before it. “The more I explore the more ideas come to me. It really is like playing in a make-believe world where anything is possible.”
Peggy finds her fabric either online or from suppliers who sell at wholesale events that offer small minimums. She recently purchased a wide variety of upholstery fabrics from a business that was closing. “Because I create so many one-of-a-kind designs, I like having a lot of different colors and textures of materials on hand to play with.” Many of Peggy’s designs are a patchwork of colors and patterns, building on a theme or color story. She loves to combine different types of fabrics to create entirely new fabrics, allowing her to create unique and one-of-a-kind garments.
The purchase of knitting machines extended the possibilities of creativity. “Counter to my original thinking, I have less time to use them than when I was also working a full-time job. I thought when I gave up my full-time job that I would have more time to knit but having your own business is like having two or three full-time jobs,” she says. Peggy would love to learn how to weave but she doesn’t know where she would fit a loom of any size in her studio. “It is pretty well packed with fabric and garments,” she says.
Peggy brings an interesting life of experience and perspective to her work. She has owned horses and competed in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for many years as a Barrel Racer (and her husband rode bulls). But Peggy’s second love is astrology. She has followed astrology since she was a young girl, and has practiced professionally for the past 20 years. She has done thousands of charts and has helped many people find a richer and deeper meaning to their lives. All of these wonderful experiences and her rich life bring forth a deep story that shows in her designs.
To see her full profile: http://www.valleyartisansmarket.com/peggy-gray/