Saving Grace

Heather Stark empowers girls by utilizing creative educational tools. We catch up with her about her latest project, Grace & Grit.

Why did you start Grace & Grit? I wanted to teach girls about women who impacted history, made change, who went into the arena of life, so to speak, and “dared greatly.” That’s a Theodore Roosevelt quote. Girls need to know they can be leaders, they can be scientists, pilots, artists, dancers and entrepreneurs. Girls do not have to fit in a certain category. They can be strong and graceful. They can be gentle and gritty at the same time. And if they only want to be strong and gritty or gentle and graceful, then so be it. We live but once; let’s not waste time trying to fit into culture’s opinion on what females should or shouldn’t be. Let girls figure that out for themselves!

Where do the profits go? A percentage of the profits will go to the nonprofit Gracefully Strong, an eight-week girl empowerment program in Parker and Tarrant counties. The program is based on research that states there are four areas that can promote or hurt self-esteem: peers, parents, social media and body image. Our curriculum teaches girls “brain tools” to help them feel confident in their everyday lives and to handle moments of doubt.

What do the boxes contain? Brandon Alcorn, our creative director, has done a spectacular job of specially crafting an experience for the girls. Each box contains an illustrated picture of the women highlighted in the box. We have an amazing illustrator, Anni Betts, who draws the ladies in such a manner that our customers can identify with her and understand who she was and what she stood for by just looking at our illustration. The boxes also contain a letter of encouragement, a journal about the lady we are highlighting that month and the character trait we feel best defines her. We include our version of pay-it-forward cards that we call “Play It Forward” cards because girls are asked to do something thoughtful for another girl. Also in each box is a charm specifically designed by Kim Noakes of Urban Farm Girl. She has done an incredible job of making a charm that represents the spirit of both the lady and her character trait. And last, but certainly not least, there is an accessory that we designed for each box. For example, our confidence box has Rosie the Riveter headbands, our visionary box has Amelia Earhart’s aviator scarf, and our wisdom box has a feathered hair accessory much like Sacagawea may have worn.

What has been the most meaningful feedback you have received? One of our customers wrote to us and said, “(My daughter) got her first Grace & Grit box today. She was introduced to Rosie the Riveter and found out she comes from a long line of Grace & Grit. Her great-great grandmother was a Rosie!” Another one of our customers wrote about her daughter using the play-it-forward cards. “She did it! She didn’t want to approach a stranger at Starbucks because it made her feel shy, but she did it. It made the young woman’s day! I saw her take a picture of the card she received. It was a lovely day!”