As founder of Somerville-based Grayscale Designs, Misty Gray pulls together the kind of spaces you wish you could come home to every day––you know, the ones that seem straight out of a magazine or an HGTV episode. We talked with her about how it takes a village to pull the perfect space or event together.
My mornings kind of revolve around my three-month old baby named Cameron James. He wakes up around six and from then until seven is really when I sneak in some quality time with him. You know, we nurse, we cuddle. I haven’t slept with my phone next to my bed since he’s been born, so I just kind of unplug and get to spend some time with him in the early morning.
By seven, we’re up. I’ll always make a fresh cup of coffee and fire up my laptop to check the day’s schedule, organize the list of items I need to get done, and sort of get my staff set up. We use Evernote to keep everyone organized—everyone has a running task list, so that’s a great virtual way for us to stay connected. Every day, I try to be the first one to make some entries and get everyone organized for what’s up ahead.
7 AM to 9 AM
I try to make the best use of the time in the morning before the phone calls and text messages start coming in, while everything’s still quiet. I like to get all of urgent items off my desk, answer emails, that kind of thing. If I have some leftover time, I’ll start on my own list from home, so that could include product research or design development.
9 to 11 AM
This is what I’m calling “Project Get Out the Door”. It’s when I do all of the things that most people do at like, six and seven in the morning. I feed my dog, get my lunch together, walk the dog, feed Cam again, pray he takes a little nap so I can shower, and then I pack us up and we head to the studio.
While most moms are still in their maternity leave, I’ve really chosen to take advantage of the industry I’m in and the set up that I have to bring him anywhere and everywhere. When I have a meeting, we’ve been getting creative, like someone drives around the neighborhood with him. It’s important that I spend as much time with him as I can while he’s young. Taking Cam into work with me felt really natural because I grew up with an entrepreneur mom and grandmother. We had a family business back in the early 90s when crafts were really blowing up, and they sold things like potpourri from scratch, the stuff you’d find a gift store circa 1988. When I was three weeks old, my mom was bored and didn’t want to be home by herself, so...we went to work together. I’m lucky enough to be able to do the same in my industry, and I have people around who can hang out with Cam if I need to take a call or deal with something. It really takes a village, and luckily my village really likes helping out.
Once I’m at the studio, I like to check in with my team. It’s really important that I connect with everyone on a personal level, so on Mondays we’ll talk about the weekend, and during the week we’ll chat about what happened the night before. I joke that I’m a huge distraction to everyone’s productivity; once I’m there I’m like “Oh, productivity just went downhill.” I can be a little chatty. Towards the middle of the day, I’ll make lunch and my staff will kind of download me on what’s gone on in the morning—if there was a site visit, or if they met with a client, we’ll touch base on that. We also review projects to see what’s on the agenda and answer any pressing client questions. We fit in some social media programming in that time, too. It’s just kind of a collective, interactive time with my team.
1 to 3 PM
I’ve been really working on scheduling all my client meetings or site visits during this time, or if I have to go shopping at the design center or a local showroom, I aim to fit it in here. I try to sync that up with Cam’s naptime, so I can be my most efficient when he’s sleeping. If it’s a full studio day and I don’t have an outing, I tend to use this time for designs, phone calls, follow-ups, and whatever else is on my list.
4 to 6:30 PM
My team starts to head home. Sometimes I only get 30 minutes of solo time, but it’s nice to organize my thoughts, work on some design developments, and answer emails. Before Cam, I’d often stay pretty late once or twice a week at the studio and bust out so much work, especially in the summer when it was light until eight o’clock. Now I really do my best to get out the door by 6:30 at the latest so I’m home around the same time as my husband.
6:30 to 8 PM
We cook dinner, or rather, I cook dinner. I love to cook, and I will try and come up with something from scratch using one or two pans so my husband doesn’t have too much to do. If I just don’t have it in me, we’ll take advantage of living in Charlestown and take Cam out with us for dinner, kind of a little impromptu date night.
8 to 10
This is kind of our down time, to catch up with each other, watch a show. Unless I fall asleep somewhere in between on the sofa. Alternatively, if I’ve had less time to do work-related things, sometimes I carve out a little space here to get to things I need to finish off. We’re usually in bed by 11.
––As told to and written by Oset Babur for The Thirty-One Percent