Getting Knotty with Local Designer Grey Hall
By Sara Celi, Contributing Writer
Photos and Video by Madison Schmidt
Spend a little time with Grey Hall, and it is obvious that she's in the middle of living her dream. After years of designing watercolor invitations, thank you cards, and custom orders, she has now transitioned to fashion. Grey Hall's company, The Knotty Scarf, recently launched a line of oversized silk and cashmere scarves that feature her original watercolors.
"I've been painting and sewing for a long as I can remember, and I love the idea of translating my watercolors to textile," Grey told us from her home in Mariemont.
She gave Cincinnati People an inside look at where the magic happens, a small design studio located on the second floor of her house. The area featured a large bulletin board fill of inspiration, a small work desk, thousands of original watercolors, and an explosion of color that translated into her accessory designs.
"What I love about a scarf is that you can have just finished a yoga class, need to go to the grocery, throw it on, and feel chic," Grey said in front of her workstation. She, of course, had one of her scarves tied bandana style around her neck. The butterfly in the center set off her pink sweater, dark jeans, and nude high heels.
Grey decided to transition her work to scarves about a decade ago, when she created a custom piece as a donation for a Starfire Council fundraiser. The design was a hit, and she liked the challenge of merging her love of fashion with her love of art. It wasn't a simple task, though. It took Grey almost nine years to find the right mix of silk, manufacturing, and distribution for these scarves. A few early versions didn't quite match her vision, so Grey found herself burning the midnight oil in a worldwide search for the right partners.
Only now does she feel thrilled with the current combination.
"I have all these dreams of adventures that I have been on, places that I have traveled, and things that I love. I have all of these things that are just vibrant in my head, and are in color. I will just start water coloring on a piece of watercolor paper--very free spirited," Grey said of the process she goes through to get a design from paper to textile. "After that, I move into Photoshop, where I can have a really pristine border that makes for a really interesting composition. Then, I send off the design to the distributer, I get it back, and I check for the quality. I open every single scarf and make sure it meets my expectations."
During our visit, she called it "affordable luxury", and said her ideal customer would want a fashionable piece that doesn't bust budgets.
"I wanted the hand-rolled edge, the luxury feel, and the special draping. I wanted quality that would be at parity with Hermes," she said. "I felt like there was an opportunity to bring storytelling to silk and design, but also to have the quality be the best it could be. I wanted to create a product that not only solved that gap in fashion, but also empowered women so that they could have more choices and options."
About twenty new scarves make up the new Knotty Scarf line. Dogs, birds, elephants, flowers, butterflies, and even iconic Cincinnati spaces can be found in the designs.
"I am pleased that I have finally found a vendor that can capture my watercolors in a way that is so true to the art," she said. "That's what I am the most happy with. In fact, I love that we are in the digital age because that gives us the opportunity to explore amazing creativity without compromising quality. Now, I feel like the creativity is limitless. I've done the hard work to get to the quality, and the designs can be unleashed."