THE MNY SPOTLIGHT

Grace Hamlin, Founder of Going By Grace

This week's Tastemaker Tuesday features Grace Hamlin, founder of Going By Grace, content creator, and mom of two based on the Gulf Coast of Florida. 
Introduce yourself! 
My name is Grace Hamlin and I am a lifestyle blogger at Going By Grace, a domain name that is a nod to my life as a middle name kid. My given name is actually Tamara Grace, after my mother, but I’ve “gone by Grace” since I was born!
I married my high school sweetheart and together we have two little girls, Margaret (6) and Catherine (2). After living in Dallas, TX for well over 10 years, we moved back to a small town south of Tampa on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We miss our Dallas friends and we loved so much about our Texas life, but are finding joy raising our girls near their grandparents and by the coast. 
Grace in the new Mestiza piece for Spring, the Helena Maxi Dress 
What characteristics (cultural, personal, etc ... ) make you unique? 
I am a collector by nature and I come by it honestly. My mom and grandparents loved antiques and I do too, though I rarely know whether it is “valuable” in the Sotheby’s sense. Whether it’s something left by the side of the road, a $1 Goodwill trinket, or a well taken care of heirloom, if I like it, I follow my gut!  
This applies to everything from vintage costume jewelry, accessories, art, textiles, and of course, furniture! And mixing these treasures in with my current pieces, either within my home or my ensembles, I find my penchant for “collecting” helps me to achieve a layered look that feels personal. 
What motivated you to start your own venture as a digital content creator? 
I’ve always liked to share and connect and the creativity of doing so through a blog just called to me! I’d had one as a casual hobby around 2009 when they were becoming more and more popular but eventually I wasn’t able to give it the attention I once was and I put  it to rest, which was a decision I constantly questioned. I continued to enjoy the inspiration I got from following other bloggers and started feeling the pull to jump back in. And thanks to the encouragement of my family and friends, including a fellow Mestiza Tastemaker, Sarah Tucker, I hit publish once again in late Spring of 2019.   
What is the most rewarding aspect about what you do?
As much as I loved following bloggers and influencers, I felt like there was a deficit of women in the space within my size range, and also my style. And while I personally follow creators of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and styles, as someone who is most often wearing extended sizes, it is an awesome feeling when I find someone in my size range, with a similar aesthetic, and feel wholly represented. Almost two years into Going By Grace,  sharing that moment with others, where they feel seen, represented and inspired - it is the greatest privilege. I love turning them on to brands that they may have previously been hesitant to try because they weren’t quite sure about the sizing, or maybe they hadn’t yet heard of. To some it might seem like “just clothes” but based on the countless conversations I have with women each day, I think so often it is about more than that. It is about self-love. It is saying, I deserve to look good and feel confident in what I am wearing.   
Who are some of your style icons and how would you describe your own style?
I’ve always felt drawn to classic style icons that so many of us know and love. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for starters. I especially gravitated toward preppy styles growing up and she always looked put together while seeming so at ease in what she was wearing! Two of my favorite formal dresses from high school dances, that I would hands down wear today, were inspired by Grace Kelly. Not to mention one of my most treasured dresses is a $40 vintage find with the most beautiful brocade and beading from the 1950’s! Even the wardrobe of the characters in classic Nancy Meyers movies of the 90s, like Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap, influenced how I shop then and now. 
Having two daughters yourself, why is it important to you to empower women?
One of the biggest things I hope to impart is the spirit of supporting other women. I once heard someone say that we should aspire to admire the accomplishments, success, and beauty of other women, without questioning our own, and it really stuck with me. I think that sentiment applies to everyone, but especially if we aim to empower women, then the spirit of collaboration and the sincere belief that when one of us wins, we all win, is essential. It’s a mindset that applies to not just our own personal and professional domains, but also applies to matters of social justice and women empowerment for women across the globe. And as a mom of two little girls, I know that cultivating this attitude starts at home and not just in what I say, but in how they see me live my life.  
A loving Mother's Day note from Grace's daughters (source: @gracehamlin)
What draws you to the Mestiza brand? 
As someone who loves collected and layered looks, who is drawn toward classic and enduring style, Mestiza is a natural fit. From the silhouettes to the patterns, Mestiza creates fresh and updated designs that are chic and timeless. When I shop their dresses I know I’m looking at pieces I’ll have forever. And when I saw that they offer up to $50 in alternation reimbursement I knew I had stumbled upon a brand with next level customer service. The thoughtfulness of the brand comes through, and furthermore the story of founders Alessandra and Louisa, and their family history, got me right in the heart strings. They way they honor their family legacy in all that they do, shines right through! 
How did you like your Mestiza pieces? Any details on how it fit or made you feel?
The Helena Maxi dress is a perfect example of why I love Mestiza. The hand printed toile is seen in styles across centuries, but the orange helps it pack an extra punch! That said, anything in blue and white steals my heart time after time, and this dress is no exception! You really can’t go wrong. The cotton fabric lays so nicely and is perfect for these warmer temps! I wear it with and without the belt and the fun sleeves make it extra special. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it has a great twirl factor! 
Please share an inspiration tip to someone looking to follow in your footsteps.
It might be cliche, but I’d tell anyone who wants to start a blog to just go for it and don’t quit! I had so many reasons I’d come up with as to why I shouldn’t jump back in, but perhaps the biggest hangup was that I was afraid I’d give it up again. So from day one I’ve told myself whether I post once a month or once a week, that as long as I keep going forward, staying true to myself, I’ll get to where I want to be - even if I don’t know where that is just yet! 
x