Updated: Jun 24
Being at Odds with what is Generally Accepted
Some of us know what we want to do with our lives from the time we are children. There are those of us who find something they are passionate about at a young age and stick with it throughout their lives. Others try their hand at multiple things in discovery to find their niche, the thing that drives them most. And then there are some whose calling rings by accident, their greatest attributes finding them- as opposed to the latter.
Grace Folias-Vulpio will say that her fervor to be an artist came to her by coincidence, yet it changed the course of her life. She is a Queens, New York mother, wife, artist, and project manager who is also an entrepreneur with her own clothing line, Heresy Designs.
When Grace was 11 years old, she was required to choose two possible talents when applying for specialty middle schools. Though she had her heart set on being chosen in the Dance talent, she ended up being accepted in the school of her choice for Art- a talent she had only chosen as a back-up, having no prior desire or knowledge on the skill.
But she says since that day she “recognized her talent and ran with it full force.” From that point, she began participating in art electives every year, became part of the set design team for musical theatre, and designed 60 costumes for the plays (which she says she did in just two days)! After high school, Grace went on to St. John’s University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a minor in Fine Art. She currently works at a showroom in the New York Design Center full-time, on top of her own company- and being a mom.
In terms of Heresy Designs, I wanted to know what drove Grace to entrepreneurship. She told me that it was a hobby turned business, starting out as a creative outlet for herself. She began painting on her own denim jackets when family and friends began asking for custom pieces. So, she created an Instagram page to display her work and before she knew it, she had a business.
Grace said, “I love painting on anything clothing related. I feel like a canvas sits in someone’s house and is needed to complete a room, but it just sits there. It doesn’t travel with you like an article of clothing.”
She uses mostly acrylic and leather paint and admits that other than interning with Salvatore Ferragamo for one semester in college, she really does not have any experience in the fashion world. But that hasn’t stopped her from finding inspiration to create.
Most of her inspiration comes from music, though she says she also enjoys art galleries, and is inspired by other artists. She also believes that her eclectic range of friends and experiences have motivated her art as well. After all, the name of her company is inspired by the meaning behind the word heresy, which means to be at odds with what is generally accepted.
“I was never married to one group of people. I have found that it’s always the people you don’t expect to be close to that will leave the biggest impact. They help you view things differently, and a lot of my inspiration is drawn from that."
With all that is around to stimulate her creativity, Grace told me that starting this business and continuing her passion for art in this way has made her a better mother. She said she always knew that she wanted to show her children that building a family and keeping a home does not mean that there are not enough room for your dreams. She says its important that they see an example of building something from scratch and remaining resilient in your determination- and she’s doing just that.
She also admits that she knew if she didn’t embark on this journey, she feared she may end up resenting her family for being something that held her back- even if that choice was on her! But she knew if she was happy and doing what was best for her, that it would radiate to those around her. She said she wants them to be excited to create something amazing and be confident to put it out in the world, and she is showing them by living it herself.
And she’s got big plans for the future of Heresy Designs, and her art. She says that it’s been so rewarding to create something that didn’t exist before, and she hopes to keep expanding that into lots of different types of merchandise. Grace said she hopes to add screen-printed items to her line of her artwork to go along with her other hand-painted ones. She knows that it will be the smartest thing for her business- in terms of production.
When I asked Grace what she wants people to take from the work she is doing, she said, “I want my designs to draw attention. Whether someone thinks it’s cool, or interesting, or different, I just want the result to be eye-catching. Some pieces have deeper meanings, some are based off of a movie or a fashion icon, some are inspired by a quote or an album cover. My designs are a little all over the place because whenever I feel inspired, I don’t stop to second guess it. I just create it.”
I loved hearing that Grace hopes to combine Heresy Designs with her love for interior design as well. She says she has some great ideas that she plans to get started on soon that she believes will “really take the brand to the next level and reach more demographics of people.” Her goal is to build an inventory vast enough to have a pop-up shop in Manhattan to display all of her work. I sure know I’ll be in attendance when that day comes.