Let’s see, what is there to say about Graceful Rebel and its creator Cameron Merrill, that I haven’t already said? In case you missed it, I featured the Live Grace Fully tank and the Faith over Fear tank in the past month because I am THAT obsessed. Her tanks are not only adorable, comfortable and easy to style, they sport truth and inspiration that makes her brand notable in so many ways. These tanks pack a lot of punch and I am so thankful to have met Cameron! She’s local to the 30A area and is continually seeking ways to give back to her hometown. Her attention to detail and passion for inspiring and empowering women is admirable! If I am being honest, I haven’t met a ton of people like Cameron. What I mean by this is she’s someone who made the decision to leave the job title driven world behind and take the jump into starting her own business. Her bravery in doing so is something that I think we all want in our lives. Cameron’s response to this- What are you waiting for? We met for coffee and had the best time just relating over small victories and struggles of doing something that is your own. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it! I feel like Cameron embodies this idea of ditching the 9 to 5 in pursuit of something else. She’s designing her own life in a way that can impact other women. I can’t fully describe the Graceful Rebel brand in a way that truly speaks to it’s importance and impact so here’s what Cameron had to say about her trailblazing tanks:
CG: What inspired you to start Graceful Rebel?
CM: I used to joke with people that Graceful Rebel was a product of my quarter-life crisis. But it really is. I had an epic identity crisis after I realized how much of my self-worth was attached to my job title. I had lost so much of myself along the way that when I finally saw how unhappy I really was- I hit rockbottom. Graceful Rebel is created from the journey of my own personal transformation. The brand symbolizes learning to love yourself for who you are (rebel)- and give yourself enough grace to show up each and every day as that woman (graceful).
I’ve grown up in a family of entrepreneurs and always knew I wanted to have my own business one day. My parents showed me that as a business owner you have a chance to change people’s lives from the inside out- not only with your products but by serving the people who work for you.
CG: What does a day in the life of Graceful Rebel look like?
CM: Ohhh boy no two days are alike! As glamorous as fashion seems… I’m typically on my laptop, running around town, or at my warehouse. Some days are super productive including; shipping orders, tagging clothes, cutting tags, emails, Facebook marketing, networking, and website tweaking. While some days are super creative including; designing tanks, writing/designing story cards, brainstorming new ideas, and sewing.
I’m currently balancing Graceful Rebel with 3 other part-time job commitments, so when life starts to get really overwhelming, my days are more about learning and reflecting. The most exciting and terrifying thing about starting your own business is that you make the rules. Today I may wake up and be like I’VE GOT THIS! And tomorrow I may be so paralyzed with self-doubt that I can’t get out of bed. (Thankfully, the latter are becoming less frequent.)
CG: Where do you draw your inspiration for the current line of tanks and future tanks? What’s your process?
CM: The inspiration for the tank tops comes from real life. Each design represents a different phase of personal growth and my creative process is more of a coming to terms with it all. All of the good and the bad parts of life. Because you have to experience the bad in order to have the good. And vise-versa. It’s hard to find peace with all of the pain involved in living.
I don’t really have a specific process per se, but it usually goes something like this… I’m feeling a certain way, I learn everything there is to know about why I might be feeling like that, I journal a lot about my feelings, and after a few days or hours or minutes or seconds it just kind of clicks. An idea or a saying will just kind of pop into my head. That process- of naming our problems and fears, is healing. If I can capture a feeling or story of my own suffering down to just a few words that makes sense, I know I’ve learned the lesson and I can let it go in order to be of service to others.
I play with words and use clothes as a medium to reach people, because our words create our worlds. If we change the way we think about our problems, then the words we attach to them can be vehicles of transformation.
After reading “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I can honestly say my creativity isn’t coming from me. It’s a gift from the big man upstairs. And that creative inspiration is available to all of us- but there’s only a few crazy enough to act on it.
CG: What’s the best part about operating your company out of the 30A community?
CM: It’s my hometown! I tried moving away from this “small town” to Charleston, SC for a couple of years, but I kept coming back. It’s ironic that so often we move away to find ourselves and then end up right back where we started. This is home for me. I went to Seaside Neighborhood School back when the amphitheater stage was made out of wood. I remember riding my bike around Rosemary Beach when there were only 5 houses built and The Summer Kitchen was just a little shack. This area has grown so much and it’s still growing! I’m #blessed to be able to be part of it. Now that I’m older and have lived other places I can really appreciate how unique it is have grown up here AND be able to live here. There’s so much local support for small businesses on 30A and countless opportunities for entrepreneurial spirits to succeed. I’m incredibly humbled to finally be able to say that I’m a local business owner- not just my parents anymore!
CG: Describe the concept and goals of the Graceful Rebel brand.
CM: Graceful Rebel is here to be a source of healing and empowerment for women. I know “empowerment” is becoming such a mainstream word right now, but there’s no other word to describe it. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the ways we (especially women) like to get in our own way! If we can just get rid of the unconscious blocks we put up for ourselves, we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. All Graceful Rebel products and goals are built on a combination of 4 elements meant to empower women from the inside out; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
The main physical element is that our products are all eco-friendly and American made. I source all materials and manufacturing from the USA and all current and future garments are designed to feel light and flowy. Clothes are supposed to be supportive of daily life, allowing women to move however they need to and take on the day without feeling constricted in any way. We don’t put chemicals and oxygen-depriving clothing on newborn babies, so why do we do it to ourselves? Whether it’s clothes, bed sheets, towels- these fabrics are in contact with our bodies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they should be just as “organic” as the food we eat.
There’s a huge emotional element behind the creation of Graceful Rebel, which marks a very important pillar built out of faith and self-love. Over the last few years the foundation of my life has gone through an internal demolition- breaking down everything in my life built upon worthless fears and feelings of unworthiness. As women, we are highly emotional and complicated beings. And I believe it’s beautiful. The world loves to tell you you’re too____, when in reality there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you!
I spent almost 25 years seeking permission and approval on what I feel or how to live my life from everyone other than myself. After countless nights on Google and devouring every self-help/psychology/
Having faith is an enormous act of self-love- and the most powerful armor against emotional suffering. Falling into a loving relationship with myself and my faith changed my life. Believe me I’m not a poster child for consistent church attendance. But when I began to really believe- for the first time- that I’m loved no matter what by something greater out there constantly working in my favor, my life made an epic transformation. The stories behind the Graceful Rebel designs are from my very real, very personal, very normal life.
Which leads us to the mental element… Graceful Rebel is all about inspiring women to acknowledge and embrace our uniqueness and our depths. Whether it’s a tank top design or Instagram post, all of the words are intentionally used to open people’s minds. Once we become aware of and understand our problems, we can heal. It’s like being a kid and turning on the light in a scary basement. It’s scary in the dark because your scary thoughts take over, but once the light turns on you can see that the monster grumbling in the corner is, in fact, a washing machine.
For instance, every woman, no matter what her age, skin color, body type, or salary battles with perfectionism. It’s a universal ache in our hearts. A universal fear that who we are will never be enough. But when you realize that being “perfect” is completely unattainable, you free yourself to be exactly who you are! This is what the Wabi-Sabi tank is all about.
My vision is for Graceful Rebel to be of service to not only the 30A community, but to the world. The goal is for Graceful Rebel to be a platform for investing in female entrepreneurs, helping bring their creative and world-changing ideas to life. There are so many brilliant and vivacious women in this world who just need someone to believe in them. I believe that investing in a woman’s dream is an investment in her life, an investment in her family, and an investment in her community. By investing in a woman’s dream, we’re investing in the belief that she is worthy- and more importantly- that she will grow and believe in it, too.
The overarching goal is for every tank top design, community project, or creative business- brought to life through Graceful Rebel- to ripple to initiate a riffle effect. Furthermore, secure the future of female entrepreneurship in the beautiful US of A for generations to come.
CG: I love the Affirmations page on your website, explain how and why these affirmations help shape your brand and empower those that wear Graceful Rebel tanks.
CM: Thank you! I started using positive affirmations a couple of months ago after paying attention to how debilitating my thoughts were and, having always preached about how powerful our words are, I decided to really give them a go. Talk about a game changer. The original purpose of the Great Wall of Affirmation was kind of selfish because it was for me to be able to scroll through whenever I was at a red light or waiting at the doctors’ office. It makes me really happy to hear that someone else has read them!
CG: What’s your Starbucks order?
CM. Venti Vanilla Latte.
CG: Words of advice for other aspiring girl bosses near and far?
CM: I’ve racked my brain and narrowed it down to 3 things…
Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. That one probably set me behind at least 3 years. It took a while for me to understand that having an overall vision of where you want to be is the key, not the details of what kind of car you’ll drive, paint color your house will be or even who your husband will be. All of that kind of stuff falls into place along the way- and if you let- it will be better than you could have ever dreamed up on your own.
Your failures are just experiences- not reflections of your worth. Embrace your mistakes. Learn from your failures. There should be plenty to choose from after however many years of doing life for the first time. I think it’s worse to never make a mistake. Oftentimes, we get so scared of failing that we don’t even try. Failure in and of itself is a success. If you fail at something, it teaches you the most valuable lesson of all: what DOESN’T work. So now you can at least move on to something else! If you never try, you just stay stuck, wondering and planning, in hopes of the possibility of succeeding. Why not just go ahead and make “one day” today and move on?
There is no definition of success. Repeat after me: there is no definition of success. YOU are your own definition of success. So don’t be discouraged when someone else’s doesn’t resonate with you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting different things in life.
CG: If you were cast on the Real Housewives, what would your intro tagline be?
CM: As the saying goes… Weird people change the world, normal people keep it the way it is.
CG: Anything else you’d like to add that I missed?
CM: If there’s one thing I want a woman reading this to get out of it, it’s this: Dare to dream and know deep down in your soul, there are absolutely no limits to what you can create in this world.
Cameron’s passion for her brand and helping women in our community and beyond is so evident. I hope someday I can display similar courage and turn my passion into something that benefits others! Until then, I’ll let Cameron be my inspiration to keep my sights set higher than I ever could have imagined.
If you’d like to keep up Cameron’s journey with Graceful Rebel be sure to follow her on Instagram (@graceful.rebel) and like her Facebook page! Also, if you want to enter our giveaway, simply enter your email address below! You’ll receive an email with a 10% off discount code plus be entered to win a FREE Graceful Rebel tank! Discount code emails will go out the week following the conclusion of this giveaway.
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