Photography: Carolina Palmgren; Model: Jennifer Pugh; Makeup/Hair Victor Noble; Assistant: Derick Marquez
“Our mom had always been an entrepreneur. We were kind of designed to be in that life,” Merrie, the baby of the Chris Gramer family, remarked. “It had always been a dream of ours to work together.” Fitting, then, that their company name is a combination of their three names. Sisters Christine, Grace, and Merrie grew up right here in Texas, and now they’re taking on the fashion world. Their Houston-based company, Chris Gramer, is designed, sourced, and produced by the three sisters. Their women’s contemporary ready-to-wear line is largely machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant, with select pieces also stain-resistant.
In 2010, the elder two of the three sisters, Grace and Christine, decided it was time to make the dream of working together a reality. “When the time came, we just decided to stop everything and move to New York,” said Grace. “It was really scary… we didn’t really know anybody in New York and we didn’t have any real experience starting up our own fashion company.” But when it came down to it, following this passion felt like something they had to do. “What I was doing wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t what I felt I was called to do,” confessed Christine. “If I didn’t utilize what I had, the creativity visually and tactile instincts, I just felt like I would always regret it I just really didn’t want to live in regret, and I also didn’t want to live in fear.” The girls felt the responsibility to be a part of the whole process, and were a bit overwhelmed at first at how much there was to do; from getting all the materials to designing to editing to merchandising and so on and so forth.
The division of labour ended up falling very naturally into place. Before Chris Gramer, Grace was getting her Masters in Fashion and Christine was a CPA doing financial consulting. The much younger Merrie, who would join the team in an official capacity after graduation, studied music, concentrating in vocal performance. Their strengths complemented each other, and so Christine took charge of design and production, while Grace did editing and merchandising. Before Merrie came on, Grace was also in charge of logistics and administration. Now that’s Merrie’s job, along with further editing and social media. The only things they outsource are sales and PR.
It’s Christine’s 360 design concept that Chris Gramer has come to be known for. When a “person captivates your attention, she walks by, you don’t just look at her front, you look at her as she’s walking by… that’s kind of how I design,” explains Christine. “I don’t want it to just look good from the front angle. I want it to be interesting from the side and from the back. I want the person wearing it to feel beautiful from every angle.”
Christine accomplishes this by deigning on a form by draping fabrics, rather than drawing it out in two dimensions. “I really am inspired by shapes and by the couture way of draping things. I like the architectural aspect, I like the logistical part of it.”
As moms-on-the-go, both Christine and Grace are very grateful for Chris Gramer and working together. “There’s a flexibility, and because we’re family, we really know how to… cover for each other and work together… It’s a really huge blessing in that aspect,” said Christine. The best part is how practical their fabrics are; it’s perfect for travel or running around with kids. Many of the fabrics are both stretchy and structured; neither Grace or Christine had to buy pregnancy clothes.