Amy and Anya (Theia Grazi)

Interview with Theia Grazi designers Amy and Anya

Theia Grazi, a San Francisco Bay Area clothing brand you may not have heard before, is all about day-to-day outfits for stylish suburbanites with busy lifestyles. Co-owned by 2 interesting ladies with different culture backgrounds, their passion for fashion brought them together. Their collections can be found in boutiques locally and on the east coast, as well as online. We had a great opportunity to sit down with them, listen to their stories on how they got started with the business, their design concepts and inspirations. We also felt fortunate to have the chance to visit their cozy studio and met the elegant lady ‘Theia the Frog’.

Lady Theia the Frog wearing the very original stripy dress

Lady Theia the Frog wearing the very original stripy dress

Amy, Anya and Theia the Frog, a happy family

Amy, Anya and Theia the Frog, a happy family

Hello Anya and Amy! Thank you for finding time to chat with Can you tell us how did you get started in the fashion industry?

Anya: I started off with a totally different education in Russia, nothing to do with fashion. But I always loved creating and was passionate about art and design. Really, I always dreamt I would one day end up in a creative field. After moving to the US, I heard about this fashion program in college, and thought “why not”, and gave it a try. And I loved it. I finally felt like I was in the right place.

Amy: I liked to design and make things with my hands from a young age. I already had some sewing skills and wanted to improve them and to see where I can go from there. I learnt that West Valley College had a fashion program and decided to check it out. When I went to the orientation, they had a lab, and I fell in love with it. When I walked in, I was like “this is so cool!” It was like Project Runway in real life. All the sewing machines, the dress forms, the cutting tables, it was all just calling out to me. And yet all the way until I graduated I didn’t really believe I’d actually be doing anything this cool for a living. I did it for fun.

Anya: And you still do.

How did you decide to open a business together?

Anya: Honestly, the business wasn’t particularly planned. We didn’t set out with a plan in mind or anything; we sort of just fell into it. It all actually started because of Amy.

Amy: I had been involved with a co-op in San Francisco, that was like a combination of a design studio on one side, and on the other there was a store, a boutique where these designs would be sold. Anya had this chic little black and white dress that she created for the final project at school, and when I saw it I just knew it would be perfect for the boutique. It had that cool edge to it, and I thought, why not give it a shot. So I called her with the idea and she came over, and all of a sudden, you know, we had a company. We made some tweaks to that dress to make it more sellable, and we made twenty of them to see if it was worth it. We don’t have it anymore (laughing).

Where do you get your inspirations? Do you get inspired from other designers?

Anya: We love all the classic designers: Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Balenciaga. They’re a major source of inspiration; that type of timeless, effortless elegance is something we really strive towards and are always looking to achieve in our own designs.

Amy: Sometimes we are watching foreign movies and get inspired,they have unique styles that are different from what you typically see around. We also draw ideas from other countries and the things we see and find on our travels. Sometimes by countries, travels.

Anya: Another great source are these old vintage patterns from the 50s and 60s. They’re fantastic, we just love to go through them and find ideas, see if we can take some elements and give them new life.

How do the two of you collaborate while creating a design?

Amy: Anya does majority of the designs. And I help edit them. Because I’m nota designer, she is.

Anya: It is still a collaboration. I usually bring upan idea and then, at each stage of the process, we work together. We agree or disagree on some pieces. We discuss colors and patterns. I come up with the main concept and decide which direction we are going to follow. It is very hard for me sometimes to edit my own designs, so that’s where Amy comes in. Because to me it can look perfect, but then when we gooverit together and discuss, I can see it more objectively and sometimes say “yeah, that’s probably too much”.

Who are the people you design for? Who is in your target market?

Amy: We are our target market. Ladies in their 30s and up. Women, who live in the suburbs, or in the citiesnot in the cities, and who want style that’s simple and easy yet has that sophisticated edge. We create clothing women can wear every day, no matter what they’re doing, and feel beautiful doing it. And something that won’t go out of style next week.

Anya: Something comfortable and classy at the same time.

How do you see yourself in the nearest future?

Anya: Our collections are pretty small for now. We only have several pieces. And we would like to expand it. We are full of ideas, but, again, we depend on a lot of things. We would of course like to grow, to be able to create and produce more of our designs, to get a wider presence, and to be represented in more boutiques across the USA.

Are there any stories around how you work with each other? Are there any interesting moments?

Both: Yes, of course (laughing)

Amy: Oh yes, trying to figure out what she's saying. Or she is trying to figure out what I'm saying.

Anya: And they’re very funny moments sometimes. Because we are from different cultures too, right? And sometimes I would say something to Amy, and she would just look at me trying to figure it out. But she’s already used to it, so we are fine now.

Thank you Amy and Anya. It was our great pleasure chatting with both of you, and getting a closer look at your designs and collections. Your lovely ‘Russian Smile’ will be remembered. And your designs truly provide today’s busy women a comfortable and casual alternative. We wish you a fruitful new year and hope to see your new collections in more and more boutiques nationwide.

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MyFashionStage Team