Small Business Spotlight with Staci Manley from Grayside Designs LLC

September 5, 2018

Business Owner: Staci Manley
Business Name: Grayside Designs LLC


  • Tell us a little bit about you.

A little about me: I am a stay at home, working mother of 3 under the age of 3. Yes, it gets just a little crazy around here. The way I usually introduce myself is Mother. Wife. Graphic Designer. Sleepless. 


I have always been an artistic type. If I’m not designing I’m belly dancing or playing guitar or obnoxiously singing to every song. Expressing myself artistically through different mediums on an arrangement of levels.



  •  Where are you located? What areas do you serve?

I can be found in the small town of Clovis, New Mexico. Though I reside here, I work with clients states away so I don’t serve any specific area(s) but any and all.


  •  What’s makes your brand unique?

My brand and mission comes from the heart of my existence 1. my kiddos 2. design. When I left my in-office job because I could not pay over a grand a month for child care EVERYTHING about what I needed to be doing came together. Truthfully, it stemmed from realizing just how hard it is. How hard it is to be a parent that can’t afford to give my kids extras things, how hard it is to try to make working work with what seems like there’s not enough time in the day. 


Anyway, all of that feeling of loss and rising from the ashes, you know phoenix style, is what brought me to making my business more than just a business designing things for the fun of it. I found reason in my passion and amped my problem solving abilities in design.


One thing that makes my brand unique is my goal as a designer is to be a partner in my client’s objectives. To me, tasking designs is a way to make money but it’s not as meaningful. Being a designer that puts forth more than a pretty picture is my standard. I look forward to helping clients problem solve, conceptualize, take things a step further and make logical decisions in design.


The second thing that makes my brand unique is my mission. Remember how I mentioned how hard it is to not be able to afford providing extra things for my kids at one point? Well, my mission is to support children and teens in their passion for the outdoors and arts. I do this by donating a percentage of Grayside Designs income to sending an individual who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have an amazing week at summer camp or buy a guitar and take lessons or afford that large canvas, great brushes and paint to fill it.


This is my way of paying it forward.



  • Are you following your passion?

Yes, definitely. Truthfully, I had taken a few months to think on whether I should take a different direction. No. My mind stayed in the game.


  • What tools to do use to inspire?

I really like watching tutorials and applying the learnings in Adobe apps. Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are the tools I use most though recently I’ve taken on XD.


  • When did you fall in love with what you do? How long have been doing it? 

I fell in love with graphic design in 2011, so that makes it 7 years now.



  • What sort of inspiration do you specialize in?

I LOVE grungy, sporty and weird design. So I feel I specialize in the world that revolves around that style. But I’m kind of like Yin and Yang as I am passionate about clean, minimal design as well.






  • What do you do for fun? 

Traveling and dancing when I can! I’m want to become a traveling designer.



  • What or who got you started in your creative/inspirational medium? 

I was going for an education degree and for X reasons decided to ALL OF A SUDDEN change my degree, after my first semester in a design program I got my student job as a designer for the university. It worked out well for me.



  • Who is some of your Top Inspiration, past or present? 

BURTON! I’ve adored their brand and product since I laid eyes on it. Have you seen the new tent design produced? OMG! 



  • What are some of favorite inspirational/creative communities? 

This is where I’m still a newbie. I attend AIGA events when I can, and they have ALWAYS been insig

htful. I am a part of a few FB groups, The Artistic Soul Community and Creative Hustler being the most active.



  • Do create other types of arts or crafts? What kind(s)?

Oil painting is my favorite. I’ve only done one, but the process was so much fun! I sketch a lot as well, but not things like lovely nude bodies or eyeballs like you see in videos. I sketch a lot of weird bunnies, truthfully. I think Alice In Wonderland is to blame.



  • How do you balance your personal/family and passion? 

Roughly. Hah. Sometimes there is no balance which is hard on the emotions, but there are slower weeks that make up for the harder ones.



  • From where do you draw your inspiration daily? 

Pinterest *shrug* It’s easy. lol



  • What kind of workflow apps do use?

Slack, RedBooth and Asana. I really like Due as well.



  • What kinds of collaborations have you done recently?

I collaborate with a nationwide group of designers doing an arrangement of large scale projects. I also collaborate with Shay, bringing some cool new things your way!





  • Do you work with any charities or special projects? Which ones? Shout them out.

I don’t, but I plan on it!



  • What advice would give to your young influencers wanting to follow their passion, today?

Never underestimate abilities and price accordingly. Yeah, there’s Fivrr and other cheap designers. Don’t try to beat their price, there is value in what you’re doing. You have to tell your potential or existing clients what you’re bringing to the table and really bring it.


Being a catch all can be helpful and equally hurtful. There are thousands of other catch alls doing and designing exactly the same thing. Find your niche or specialty and run with it. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, the unique you is where you’ll grow and maybe even bring in work you never imagined.


Answering cattle calls can be draining, run yourself like the business you are. Get out there and talk to businesses who may be looking or even not looking for your services. Don't sit on FB commenting on in search of designer request "Yes, I am a designer. PM me." 


What tips would you give to our viewers in an inspirational rut?

Step outside of what you’re already doing. Try creating in a new way or applying an element in a different way. New challenges and perspective will help break that cycle. 


Example: I was taught to hate drop shadow, and if I had to do it to do it minimally. Then I was forced at another job to use HEAVY drop shadow to match older looking designs that were created. Being forced to do the heavy shadowing brought on the understanding of when done right a drop shadow can make a huge difference. Funny enough, I notice drop shadow on everything. Seriously, the title FROZEN has a drop shadow. It's everywhere. I even have fun applying it in different ways and using the idea as an element of design now. Total twist, who would’ve known.




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