While in the midst of a normal day lounging around, Gracelyn Economidis, a family and consumer science junior, received a shocking direct message on Instagram.
The message was from none other than Erin Condren Design, a lifestyle brand that produces high-quality organization essentials designed to help reduce stress and achieve goals in a fun, aesthetically pleasing way.
Pulled in by her inspiring artwork displayed on her fast-growing Instagram page, the company reached out with an amazing opportunity for Gracelyn Economidis to partner with them and share her work on one of its journals.
Still having a hard time comprehending the gravity of this opportunity, Gracelyn Economidis says she even sent the message to her mother to check the authenticity.
“I was shocked," Gracelyn Economidis said. "I still don’t feel like it’s that real."
Her name was brought up by an employee to the Diversity and Inclusion Council and Design team which, as a collective, gets the pleasure of deciding which artist the company will partner with. The team as a whole looks for a variety of artists who align with the Erin Condren brand values, which include company-wide support for one another.
Nonetheless, she began creating the perfect graphic to send to the design team at Erin Condren. The design that ended up on the official cover showcases a saying that is special to her: "Make Someone Feel Loved Today".
She says the saying is something that ties her to the teachings of her mom. The phrase aims to display that people should always treat others with kindness because nobody knows what is going on behind the scenes.
“Gracelyn has learned how important it is to research and understand the causes and organizations she is affiliated with,” said Hollianne Economidis, Gracelyn Economidis' mother. “More importantly, she has always wanted people to know how important it is to make people around you feel loved, and this has been a way for her to do that.”
Gracelyn Economidis' partnership is a part of Erin Condren's ongoing Black artist collaboration that launched in August. Candice Hamilton, Erin Condren's senior content manager and co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council, says it is an honor to have Gracelyn Economidis be a part of the collab.
“Gracelyn has a way about her that is very positive; it resonates with our team and our community,” Hamilton said.
When acknowledging what the project has meant to her, Gracelyn Economidis says it resembles change.
“It’s cool that I get to support not only myself but everyone else in the Black community, to amplify those voices,” Gracelyn Economidis said. “I acknowledge that I haven’t necessarily faced all the struggles that everyone has, but just knowing that I hear you, and I also stand with you, as a person of color.”
The change goes even further as she strives every day to be a light to everyone around her. This translates into her dream to teach family and consumer science at the high school level, which ties into the non-profit she selected half of the proceeds from her journal design to go to, The National Black Child Development Institution.
As a company, Erin Condren offers the opportunity for each artist to donate half of the proceeds made from their project to go to a non-profit of their choice.
“At Erin Condren, you know we will continue to connect with our community, to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, internally and externally,” Hamilton said.
In her collaboration, Gracelyn Economidis hopes to pursue her dreams in the world of child development, which includes teaching children applicable life skills that will help them throughout all fazes of life.
However, her passions will always lie with her artistic skills; she aims to share her gifts and hopefully be a light and inspiration to all, especially to those with big dreams in a small town like she was.
“Just because you’re a little hometown hero, little small-town girl, doesn’t mean that you can’t do big things,” Gracelyn Economidis said.
Gracelyn Economidis' journal is available on the Erin Condren website and in-store at Erin Condren's Austin location in The Domain.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Gracelyn Economidis collaborated with Erin Condren on a planner design, however, she collaborated on a notebook and cover design. Additionally, Candice Hamilton is Erin Condren's senior content manager and co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. We apologize for these errors and have since corrected them.