Small Business Spotlight: Student surprises herself with stationery business

Freshman Grace Craighead runs a small business focusing on stationary while managing schoolwork. Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

Jefferson City, Mo., freshman Grace Craighead created a business based on a dream that was placed in front of her. After reading “Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You” by Stasi Eldredge in the summer of 2020, she took her love of stationery and transformed it into Art is a Verb Design Co.

“God really has shown me how much of an amazing creator he is and an artist in general, so I want to bring that aspect to my art,” Craighead said.

Her twin sister, Grafton Craighead, encouraged Grace to pursue this dream because it was placed on her for a reason.

“She’s always loved writing and stationery,” Grafton said. “She really got into it over COVID-19 and making designs, so I think last summer before we left for college I was like, ‘You need to do this or you never will,’ and she took that and ran with it.”

Grace began designing on her iPad in December 2020. When she joined Highland Baptist Church’s creative team, she was immersed in new software techniques, such as Adobe Illustrator, and creating slides for the welcome center and Instagram.

Grace creates card sets, painted tote bags, wall art, tassel banners and painted magnets. She finds her inspiration in her day-to-day life, such as when she went to Passion, a Christian conference, and created wall art out of the phrase “Maranatha,” which means “Come Lord.”

“I was very hesitant, I did not want to do it,” Grace said. “I knew it was something God placed on my heart, but I was really trying to fight that because I don’t like criticism, I don’t handle it well. If I’m doing this I’m putting this out there for people to either like or not like, so that was scary and that’s kinda the reason I was so against it at first.”

Despite Grace’s fear of critique, she recently experienced her first pop-up shop on April 9 with her sorority, Chi Omega. Grace wasn’t alone either — Grafton was there helping set up and making final touches.

“It felt very rewarding in that people were able to find joy in my products,” Grace said. “It was fun getting the brand out there for the first time in a public way.”

Grace plans to be involved in other pop-up shops with Chi Omega and in her hometown this summer. Grafton said she is Grace’s final approval, but other than that she said she sits back and enjoys watching her sister run her business.

“I’m just super proud,” Grafton said. “I feel like anyone would be proud of their sibling stepping out, because it’s not easy to put your work out on the line for people to criticize and judge. She has handled that really well.”

Grace is currently working on a line of merchandise where the proceeds will go directly to a charity of her choice.

What started out as an unwanted dream, Grace has turned into passion and said her business continues to surprise her.

“I think a lot of people focus on the end result of making art, but I like to focus on the process of making art and make that enjoyable for myself as I create and inspire others in creating,” Grace said. “A creator creates and an illustrator illustrates so I feel like an artist should art.”