Inspired Chicago | grace + hudson

We sat and talked for hours in Summer House Santa Monica, eating delicious guacamole and chips, drinking local pink tea that matched Stacy's cardigan, and spilling the beans on what it's like to be a career changer. Stacy has accomplished a whole lot in her life, from being an attorney, owning a storefront in New Jersey, until finally ending up in Chicago and opening up grace + hudson.

You ever meet someone who you just click with instantly? That's how it was with Stacy; we got into some real talk about how the universe gives back the energy you put into it, the value of investing in your community through charitable intent, and what it's been like to start her own business with her attorney background. I'm super excited about this interview, friends, and I know you'll enjoy what this amazing woman has to offer. Thanks to Stacy for letting me feature her and her incredible business! :)

Summer House Santa Monica restaurant in Chicago
Owner and designer of grace + hudson interviewed for creative entrepenur feature series Inspired Chicago

Q. How did you get into jewelry design?

I discovered the art of jewelry making when I was vacationing in St. Thomas in 2008. I visited this beautiful handmade jewelry boutique there which was owned by a woman also named Stacy. Although I didn’t know how to make jewelry at the time, I remember exactly where I was standing in the Caribbean Sea when I said to my friend, "I'm going to quit my job and open a jewelry store like that back home." I was an attorney at the time, and pretty miserable with my work/life balance and the lack of artistic creativity in my job. Sure enough, I got home and watched a lot of You Tube jewelry-making videos, bought books and guides on the subject, and took a class or two at the local bead shop. My mother is very creative, so I have her to thank for my ability to basically teach myself how to design jewelry.

Delicate heart shaped ring by Chicago jewelry designer grace + hudson

Q. Did you always want to pursue jewelry design or were there other alternatives?

I practiced law for 10 years so there were definitely other alternatives! I didn’t discover jewelry until I had acquired both of my degrees and practiced law for about 2 years. I really don’t know what drew me so strongly to jewelry to be honest - I always loved sparkles and jewelry as a kid, but not enough to want to pursue fashion as a career initially. I suppose the lesson there is to be open to learning and discovering new things, no matter what your age or life circumstance. And if something pulls you that strongly, follow it! You'll regret it otherwise and always wonder "what if."

Stacy Mikulik, owner of grace + hudson for Inspired Chicago feature series

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Q. How important is being self driven to being successful?

I think being self-driven is the most important thing of all. No one is going to walk your career path for you, or tell you what turns to make. If you need or expect that from others, you’re probably going to have a difficult time finding success and happiness through work. You have to define what success means to you, and how you want to get there. That’s really the only path that is going to lead to true and lasting satisfaction with you work.

grace + hudson interviewed for  Inspired Chicago  feature series at Summer House Santa Monica
Heart shaped ring by Chicago jewelry designer grace + hudson

Q. Tell me about the charity aspect of your business.

The love you send out into the world will come back to you ten-fold.

A portion of every grace + hudson purchase is donated to charity. Every purchase, every day. Giving back to others is one way we can nurture our own souls, and I wanted to build a business with some soul. Try it - the next time you are feeling down and out, give a smile to a stranger who looks like they need one, buy coffee for the person behind you in Starbucks, or volunteer at a local charity. I promise you, it'll instantly attract more loving, positive energy your way. A new charity will be selected each quarter because we should spread love far and wide!

grace + hudson owner Stacy interviewed for entrepenurial women feature series  Inspired Chicago
Chicago based jewelry designer Stacy of grace + hudson interviewed for  Inspired Chicago

Q. What do you mean by "the universe will catch you"?

If you have the courage and believe enough in yourself to launch your own business (or make whatever big leap that’s in your heart) you simply have to trust - in yourself, in the universe - that you are going to land on your feet, and you will. I think the hardest thing to do is make that initial leap. There are so many fears that can hold us back. But once you get over those fears, you understand that you can’t fail — sure, the business may “fail” and not make any money, that’s always a possibility, but you will learn a ton of brilliant, helpful things along the way that will lead you to your next venture or next position. And that’s not a failure at all. You just have to trust that all the dots are going to connect in the end, and you’re always going to end up exactly where you’re meant to be. Take it from someone who’s had a business before that “failed”! :)

Katharine Hannah

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.