We were lucky enough to chat recently with Lucy Dean, the founder and creative visionary of Lucy Grymes–an up and coming home accessories company based in Washington, DC. To be more specific (in her own words), Lucy Grymes is “a paper and lifestyle brand that strives to create paper goods that are beautiful and easy to use.”
If you’ve been to the store this Summer or scoped our recent Top 9 DESIGNFinds, our guess is that you have a pretty good idea who this wonderful company is. (In fact, there’s a plus chance you’ve gifted yourself or someone else one of her cool, unique products, like the ones we’re about to mention.)
The struggle has been real trying to choose from her assortment of cheerful, brightly colored placemats or incredibly hot-selling vase wraps. Usually we’re happy to snatch up whatever’s left.
D&D: We love the Lucy Grymes motto…”Throw a paper party!”…because it makes us feel like kids again. It also vanquishes the stress we’re used to feeling when setting the stage for a meal by making entertaining more of a celebration and less of a chore. What are your secrets and how have you been able to crack the code of adult life? Lol!
LG: Well, to start I am pretty sure I have not cracked the code to adult life. Does anyone ever? If someone out there has, please let me know how!
But I can confidently say I have cracked the code of easy entertainment by making the set up and clean up as easy as possible in order to, as you said, make it more of a celebration and less of a chore. For set up, I follow a pretty simple framework to make decisions easily and swiftly.
First, I decide the color scheme and build around that. Inspiration could come from the flowers blooming in your garden, new plates you just bought, or the current season. Once that is decided, I then go through the house and gather anything that could work because I firmly believe less is not more. I love some layers. And this is where you can have some fun – pull that vase off the mantel, fill a glass bowl with some colorful fruit, or grab a chotchkie from the bookshelf. This step is supposed to be fast and furious – just take a quick spin around your house.
“This step is supposed to be fast and furious – just take a quick spin around your house.”
After everything is collected, I arrange my flowers. Cannot forget about the flowers! It’s important to arrange the flowers depending on what else you have going on down the table. Do you want a ton of little and short arrangements? Do you want a massive one in the middle? Or do you go out and cut some branches in the garden and arrange them as garland on the table?
And I will not lie, I am much better at setting a table than I am in the kitchen so I have a set of about 5 recipes that are foolproof, can be done ahead (well mostly), and (what I think is the most important part) looks at lot fancier than it really is. It is all in the illusion!
As a last note, and not subtle plug, I will say using beautiful paper for your table setting makes the cleanup a heck of a lot easier. I mean really, what is easier than balling paper up and throwing it in the recycling?
D&D: We’ve been barely able (and sometimes unable) to keep your vase wraps and placemats in stock. Everyone who walks thru our doors, no matter how much they’re looking to spend, are taking your items home with them. Obviously, the price points are very approachable, but why else do you think they resonate with such a wide-ranging group of people?
LG: I feel our paper vase wraps and paper placemats are useful for people of all ages for different reasons. Someone who is young and living in an apartment often finds them useful because they do not yet have a closet full of vases and table linens so our products are an easy cheap way to dress the table. This is why Lucy Grymes was started, I was tired of using my stemless wine glasses as vases in my new apartment!
On the other hand, customers who are more established in their home love our products because they are an easy and fun way to change things up from the same things they have been using for who knows how long. This is especially true around holidays and special celebrations.
Honestly, after launching Lucy Grymes, I was surprised how popular they were as hostess gifts. Which makes total sense in retrospect, especially for our paper vase wraps since they are a fun new product and come already wrapped in a bow!
Purchase Chinoiserie Vase wraps and other designs in our online store (while supplies last). Receive FREE SHIPPING on all Lucy Grymes items thru 9/18 (Dwelling & Design Online Shop only). Enter code ‘LUCY’ at checkout.
“This is why Lucy Grymes was started, I was tired of using my stemless wine glasses as vases in my new apartment.”
D&D: Part of why we love your company is because you give 20% back to N Street Village, a non-profit in Washington, DC. Matter of fact, our owner Fiona Weeks is from DC, and works with clients there all the time. So we feel like the money and love are going back to a place within our own extended community. How have you seen your efforts and contributions to this group (N Street Village) making a difference?
LG: Our partnership with N Street Village is actually based around helping to employ the low income and homeless women in their program. These women hand fold and package all of our origami inspired paper vase wraps and we pay them a living minimum wage.
When founding Lucy Grymes it was important to do something that had a positive impact on the community. After multiple conversation, I came to the conclusion it was better to pay these women a living minimum wage rather than donate a percentage of our proceeds. With this money, women are able to pay small bills, like a cellphone bill, which helps them build credit and we all know the power of having credit. Not to mention having a job helps them build a resume and learn skills to hopefully set them up for a brighter, more independent future.
With that said, because of COVID, we have sadly not been able to work with these ladies from N Street so in an effort to continue to support the community, we have decided to donate 20% of our proceeds to the organization.
Purchase these Crab themed placemats and other designs in our online store (while supplies last). Receive FREE SHIPPING on all Lucy Grymes items thru 9/18 (Dwelling & Design Online Shop only). Enter code ‘LUCY’ at checkout.
“When founding Lucy Grymes it was important to do something that had a positive impact on the community.”
D&D: Your placemat designs are fresh, colorful and creative. They have been the perfect summertime addition, particularly the lemons and Chesapeake blue crabs. Do you have any new designs prepared for the Fall and Winter seasons and/or holidays?
LG: Oh, do we have some holiday patterns! As a surprise to nobody, they are very colorful. I will say my personal favorite is the Christmas Leopard, but they are all very festive. We do not have any “fall” ones per say. Since this is candid, I will admit I just cannot get inspired by fall colors, which I need to get over. But with that said, we have a ton of awesome patterns that are season neutral and perfect for all year round. I mean does blue and white ever go out of fashion?
And just to keep everyone on their toes, I will say our Spring 2021 collection is going to have a fun new shaped placemat. Yes, we have already started working on our Spring 2021 collection, isn’t it crazy how far in advance the design world works.
D&D: What a crazy time it has been in 2020, to say the least. You have probably been on a rollercoaster you weren’t expecting! What takeaways do you have from running a business in this unpredictable climate? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
LG: We actually just celebrated our two year anniversary a few weeks ago. Thank goodness we were in year two and not year one. I am going to focus on the positives 2020 has had on our business because we do not need any more negativity!
I will say 2020 has pushed me, as well as a lot of other small business owners in my network, to actually do all those things you always think about and never actually get a chance to act on. This is true for all aspects of my business – creating new product, reaching out to those people have been meaning to connect with, changing our way of communication with customers, and tightening things up on the backend. I really think this has made us a more well rounded, stronger brand for the long-run. We have been able to, or maybe forced to, actually look forward because we were getting in the bad habit of focusing on all the tasks right ahead.
Honestly, in 2021 I look forward to getting my social life back. I love constantly being surrounded by people and entertaining. You better believe I already have a list of dinner party themes…love a good theme! I thought I was going to use this time to up my kitchen skills to make my dinner parties that much better, but that has yet to happen.
“I will say 2020 has pushed me, as well as a lot of other small business owners in my network, to actually do all those things you always think about and never actually get a chance to act on.”
D&D: Haha, don’t give up hope! Thank you, Lucy…for your time speaking with us, for finding inspiring ways to persevere in 2020, and bringing to life these amazing products that give us such delight. We love working with a company that is so creative and compassionate. Here’s hoping your partnership with the talented, working women of N Street Village is able to resume in the near future.
By the way, we thought it was pretty cool that you introduced your phone screensavers earlier this year! We rocked our favorite one all summer long, Fruit Grove (see above).
We saw that a new one just dropped this week, too! For a few behind-the-scenes videos of the production and creation of Lucy Grymes’ vase wraps, follow our stories on Instagram. And of course, follow Lucy Grymes (@lucy_grymes) to keep up with all her latest adventures.
Dwelling & Design