Sarah Wilson // Gray Heron
In our small town of 6,000, I'm in awe of how many moms are entrepreneurs. I recently connected with Sarah Wilson, Gray Heron founder, and immediately knew I wanted to shine a spotlight on her business journey and gorgeous blankets. I'm so excited to stock Gray Heron organic cotton muslin bedding & throws in Bevy & Co.
What have been the biggest hurdles and joys?
I think what makes Gray Heron a perfect fit for me is that my hurdles, if you can believe it, ARE my joys. It is so much fun to be learning every day. Before I founded Gray Heron , I was an outsider to the textile industry, to supply chain management, to social media marketing and to warehousing and order fulfillment. At this point, I wear so many hats and am presented with so many new challenges and problems to solve each week. I just love coming up with solutions...sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, but I really love sitting down to my work each day.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Any connection to what you’re doing now? From the time I was very young, I have had two seemingly competing interests: I wanted to own my own shop (my brilliant idea was to build a shed in my rural backyard and sell doll clothes...never happened) and I wanted to be a helper. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit and loved working at a tech start-up in Cambridge before graduate school, but I ended up working for years as a school counselor at a local private school.
Organic products were associated with food in the 80's and 90's, but not textiles. As I grew up and had more purchasing power, responsible brands like Toms shoes gained prominence. I also began to learn about how many pesticides are used and how much water was consumed growing cotton. I started to look for organic brands for my home, including my bedding products.
Comfort has always been a priority for me, be it clothing or bedding. I was a kid who only wore dresses because I didn't like the way pants felt around my legs. I gravitated towards my dad's old thread-bare tee shirts and the more worn-in and washed the sheets, the better. I think there is a diagnosis for this now, tactile sensitivity, but it's really heightened my awareness as to what is soft and non-irritating. I want everyone who snuggles or sleeps under my blanket to feel completely at ease and comfortable. Hence, when I founded Gray Heron , my priorities were ensuring I made a product that was both incredibly soft and aesthetically fantastic, yet made a small carbon footprint and ensured the people who work all along my supply chain are paid a living wage.
I know this is an impossible question, but what are some of your favorite products and why?
My 8 layer throws and bed blankets are my crown jewels. The thickness and feel is for the Goldilocks in all of us...it's just right, just perfect. Also, I just came out with a new Sky Blue color that is TO DIE FOR gorgeous. The response to my entire product line has blown me away. I have never had one person return a blanket because they were not satisfied with the quality. I'm sure it will happen at some point, but I've sold close to a thousand blankets and people just seem to love them as much as I do. It makes me so proud to know when I pack up a blanket that I'll be bringing joy and comfort to the recipient!
Can you give us a glimpse at what is coming next for Gray Heron?
Although the pandemic has hit India very high, my GOTS certified organic mill is in the process of weaving wide width fabric for more king blankets. I can not keep my king blankets in stock, and it is amazing the demand for these large soft, breathable pieces.
Any advice for women looking to boldly start that thing they’ve been dreaming about?
I really recommend listening to the podcast "How I Built This" with Guy Raz. His interviews with entrepreneurs are honest and incredibly inspirational. It is like hearing a guest speaker at an M.B.A. class on entrepreneurship, and as I was developing the concept for Gray Heron , I would listen to the library of these interviews.