If you didn’t think of a fashion line, then you obviously haven’t met us. Let’s fix that. We’re Anya and Amy, proud owners and designers of Theia Grazi Clothing Company, and at any given time you’ll probably find us designing, cutting, draping, or sewing at our San Francisco Bay Area studio. And yet some days we still can’t believe that only a few years ago we didn’t even know each other, much less known that we would be running our own business together. So how did we get here?
Early stages: Working out of our garages.
We grew up in different countries, amidst very different cultures and speaking different languages – Anya born in a small town in Russia, and Amy in Northern California. But the one thing we always had in common (even before we knew it) was a flair for the artistic and a drive to create. From a tender age, we imagined, doodled, and sketched. Amy’s friends turned to her to make their Halloween costumes; at 14, she was reupholstering furniture all by herself. Anya attended art school and dreamed of a creative calling. Anya loved crafts and painting at a young age and started making high end teddy bears in her early twenties. Our paths finally crossed when our mutual love of all things fashion had landed us in the same class in West Valley College’s Fashion Design program. Right away we recognized each other as a kindred spirit, but had no idea our blossoming friendship would lead to becoming business partners.
After graduating, Amy rented a space at a co-op designer studio and boutique where she contracted her patternmaking services to customers. She contacted Anya about creating–the simple black-and-white “Bateau Dress”, which had been Anya’s final school project. As we prepared the dress for sale, we recognized an opportunity in front of us, and took a leap of faith. A few tweaks to what became our iconic dress pattern, a plan, and a business license, and Theia Grazi was born.
Our very own studio!
With the name meaning “Goddess of Grace” (‘Theia’ – Greek for ‘goddess’; ‘Grazi’ – ‘grace’ in Italian), we wanted to make all women feel like goddesses, every day – at work, shuttling kids to school, running errands, or on a night out.
The epidemic of yoga pants and workout wear we saw everywhere wasn’t cutting it (Anya still remembers her shock at PJ-clad students on her first day of class, something she’s never seen before coming to US); but we also admitted that comfort was a priority. And so we set out to design clothing that would be effortlessly sophisticated yet nearly as comfy as your favorite lounge pants – not an easy feat.
We played around with materials, patterns, cuts, and colors, and discovered that the secret to sleek yet comfortable dressing was fabric, namely quality knits. We kept lines classic and simple while mixing it up with bolder colors and prints, looking for cuts that flattered and fabrics that felt as good as they looked. Producing in small quantities and securing a local manufacturer let us to control the quality and process from start to finish. We came up with our frog logo, inspired by Amy’s love for the amphibian and which is also a symbol of luck in Chinese culture; combined with the European name, it stood for the cultural fusion of our heritages.
Our mascot, Theia the Frog.
We’re hoping to inspire women to leave their yoga wear for yoga class, and to look and feel fabulous every minute of the day – even during those not-so-glamorous moments. That may be a tall order, but for now we like to think we’re driving change, one dress at a time.
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