Meet the Team: Grace Casey-Gouin

Meet the Team: Grace Casey-Gouin

Today we're shining the spotlight on Zollie's Creative Director, Grace! An artist, entrepreneur, and the designer of our Beginner Knitting Kit, Grace is a fiber craft queen at the forefront of the Zollie vision.  

What’s your name and title? 

Grace Casey-Gouin, Creative Director at Zollie.

What do you do at Zollie?

As a Creative Director, I lead product development for Zollie, as well as setting the creative tone overall for the brand, our photography, and the user experience for folks using our products. 

What are your primary fiber interests? How did you come to love fibers, crafts, or textiles?

I am interested in almost all fiber arts but in my free time I mainly knit and sew. However, since starting my work at Zollie I have fallen deeply in love with needlepoint. 

I was lucky to be introduced to fiber arts at a really young age by my mom and grandmother who both had a deep love of sewing, embroidery, needlepoint, smocking, cross stitch, knitting, and quilting. Their love of crafts and making things extended beyond the fiber arts world. We made candles, holiday decorations, elaborate flower arrangements, and beautiful gardens. They taught me to enjoy the process of trying new things and making anything I had an interest in trying.  

grace family cross stitch project

Tell us a little about your professional background, and how you landed where you are today.

I studied anthropology, textiles, and ceramics while in college. During a research project in my senior year I began to research the growing field of sustainable textiles and found that sweet place where my interest and talents intersected with something that needed more tending to in this world for a brighter future. After graduating, I began working at an organic cotton clothing company for two years before starting my own company focused on making wool apparel and 3D knitting technology.

A few years down the road, and after some major life changes, my company dissolved and I began to work as the creative director of a sustainable fiber mill. This job paired my creative interests, background in branding, and knowledge of the domestic wool and cotton industry, and I stayed there for seven years before I began working for Gist to launch Zollie. I feel extremely lucky to be able to pair my professional skills with the fun fiber arts that I practiced with my mom and grandmother when I was little - truly a dream. 

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?

I love to garden and grow food, cooking and fermentation (sauerkraut and kombucha!) practice martial arts with my husband, and before I became a mom and had more time on my hands I really enjoyed playing video games! I also enjoy naturally dying textiles, and dreaming up new products that are not the kinds of products sold at Zollie or Gist. Right now my time outside of work is mostly occupied with being a mom to my two year old son, who is truly so much fun. Hanging out with him is the greatest. 

grace and her son

What keeps you inspired and connected to your creativity? Do you have any daily creative rituals or practices?

I think a lot of my inspiration and creativity comes from necessity. Something comes up in my life that I think I could use so I look for a version of whatever I need that is made sustainably and holistically. I like to find other people who are already making my dream products, but if I can’t find a version of it within my price accessibility that meets my standards of sourcing and production, I begin to imagine my own. I draw inspiration from historical methods of production and product use as well.

I wish I could say that I have a daily creative practice or ritual outside of work, but time is really tight these days. However, since creativity is part of my job, I find that the best way to tap into that is to turn up music in my headphones, limit all other distractions, and just dive into whatever I am working on. Allowing myself to be completely steeped in it until my own path through inspirations and ideas feels clear.

What’s something you know how to do that previously seemed impossible?

I never thought I would be able to, or enjoy, crocheting. I have been a knitter for such a long time and have tried to learn to crochet once or twice with no success. I was really excited to develop the Marty the Duck kit with Yan Schenkel as an opportunity to be challenged to learn crochet. With Yan’s excellent videos and instructions I was able to learn crochet and I completely love it. I am so excited to make more of her delightful characters - especially with a little one who is excited to play with what I make.

crochet plushie

What’s something you made recently?

I have been working on projects for Zollie primarily, and have 3 projects coming out that I am really excited about and proud to be making. I stitched up this adorable bird by illustrator Lauren Marina and I am really in love with the result.

I have also fallen hard for needlepoint while stitching our upcoming kit featuring the illustrations of Leah Duncan, and really look forward to launching it.

lauren marina embroidery kit

Embroidery pattern bundle by Lauren Marina, coming soon! 

leah duncan needlepoint kit

Beginner needle point kit by Leah Duncan, coming soon!

Lastly, I admit that I did not stitch this project - Sarah did! - but I am so proud of this adorable little cross stitch project that I designed with the help of illustrator Ainsley Ashby. I really never expected a cross stitch to make me feel this warm and happy inside - but it features so many of my favorite things, and things that my son is also really into right now. I love to hear him point at the design and hear his little voice saying “strawberry” and “kitty cat." 

Ainsley Ashby-Snyder

Cross stitch pattern bundle by Ainsley Ashby, coming soon!

What’s the most exciting project you’re currently working on? 

I’m really really excited about the Stitch & Play cards that we are working on launching for kids. These are intended for younger kids ages 4-8 and they are really fun. I love being able to introduce working with a needle and thread to younger kids and making such a fun, open ended product that kids can use as parallel play with a parent who is also working on something with their hands. This shoot we did with our founder Sarah and her daughter was so fun - her little hands are so cute! I’ve never worked with a kid before in a photography studio and am so used to seeing only my own hands in photos that I just can’t get over how adorable these are. 

stitch and play cards

Stitch & Play cards, coming soon!

Favorite songs/artists or podcasts?

I just finished listening to the latest story arc in the Worlds Beyond Number Podcast and it was the perfect mashup of cozy fantasy and adventure that I would actually listen to again. Music wise I am currently really into the Garcia remix, and really any other work by LP Giobbi.

What would your perfect weekend look like?

Perfect weekend looks like nothing major to do, the house is clean, we’re eating good food, the weather is nice, and I’m spending time outside in the sun with my family. Getting out of the house to go to a farmers market and the container free store, and to do something fun like a hike or a trip to the zoo or a park with my son. After a few years of moving and renovating a house, I am really looking for something relaxing and uneventful!

grace exploring the outdoors

What is a dream you hope to make a reality one day?

My current daydream involves converting a really beaten up shed on our recently bought property into a tiny greenhouse with a small tub inside. Perhaps this dream seems small but it really is something I want to make into a reality. I love greenhouses, and I love taking a long soak, and the idea of those two elements coming together is so exciting to me.

Coffee or tea? 

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, tisane (herbal tea) in the evening.