Georgie Abay makes motherhood look magical. The mother-of-two created The Grace Tales while on maternity leave, after failing to find an online destination designed with the style-conscious mum in mind. The Grace Tales was born in 2013. The beautiful website mirrors both Georgie’s enviable personal style and her pedigree from more than a decade working on some of Australia’s most respected magazines the likes of VOGUE and Harper’s Bazaar. More than a virtual vision board for women seeking style advice, it is the real-life tales of mothers from around the world that will inspire you. I asked Georgie to share a little of her own inspirational story.
When was the seed for The Grace Tales first planted?
It all happened very organically. I’ve always loved fashion magazines and was working at VOGUE as the deputy editor. I’ve worked in magazines my entire career. There’s nothing like curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a magazine, but these days it’s a rare occurrence for me. I spend more time browsing through sites such as The Coveteur, The Design Files and Into The Gloss – pouring over photos of people’s homes and I love getting a glimpse into their lives and routines. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Arabella, I loved looking at these sites but was looking for something that spoke to me as a mother. I wanted to see inside homes of style conscious mothers. I wanted to read about how other mothers tackled motherhood. I decided to launch a site based around telling stories or ‘tales’ about other inspiring mothers. We tell inspiring stories for inspiring women. All of our content is exclusively shot for the site and the shooting side of things is the fun part.
I’ve met the most incredible women along the way and the women I work with have become dear friends. While we all laugh about how tiring and challenging motherhood can be, The Grace Tales is a celebration of motherhood because none of us would change it for the world, no matter how many tantrums a toddler has in a day or how many nights we’ve gone without sleep. The Grace Tales is the ultimate destination for the stylish mother and I hope the go-to site for style conscious mothers!
What was your original vision for The Grace Tales and how does the site today compare to that vision?
It just keeps growing and it’s exciting and stimulating and I have big plans for 2016. Originally, I was just posting once a week. I was still working at VOGUE and so I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on The Grace Tales. These days, we post at least five times a week and I love each story that goes up. We’ve just posted the tale of India Hicks – that was a highlight for me. I’ve read about India in VOGUE for many years, but to have her on my site was amazing. Thank you Sarah Wood (she’s the brilliant photographer who shot India in the Bahamas). This week, we photographed Miranda Kerr exclusively for The Grace Tales. My vision for the site is for it to become the go-to online destination for stylish mothers around the world. I have a lot of work to do but I’ve inherited my mother’s determination so hopefully, we will get there. We are going to be focusing a lot more on the UK and US this year as well as we have a lot of readers overseas.
The site is so beautiful. Is that clean aesthetic something you’ve always been drawn to or something you loved through working in magazines?
My aesthetic is very clean, fresh and minimal. I hate anything too cluttered or fussy. There’s nothing more chic than black and white and so when we redesigned the site recently we made sure there was lots of white space, BIG images and not too much clutter. My home, wardrobe etc is all very minimal – I don’t like cluttered spaces/sites! It’s confusing and overwhelming.
How is your role at The Grace Tales different from working at VOGUE or Harper’s?
It’s SO different. I’m now a work-from-home mother who lives in bassike trackpants or jeans and trainers. Unless I have a meeting, then I’ll get into my fail-proof uniform of a statement skirt and simple top. When I was in magazines, I’d dress up for work each day and was required to go to lots of work events. I still go to events for work, but my time is limited (and any time away from the girls has to be worth it) so I’ve cut out anything that’s not necessary. I’m also my own boss now so if something goes wrong, I deal with it. If my child is sick and I need to look after her, I’ll adjust my schedule. My girls are in preschool three days a week and during those hours, I’m very efficient with my time. I don’t speak on the phone or go for coffee with friends – I’ll put my head down and work like mad until it’s pick up time (while often also getting through the washing and housework!). I am so grateful for the flexibility I have. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The other difference is that I am a small, start-up company without the support of a big publisher behind me. I literally do everything from fixing the printer to often doing the coffee run on shoots. There’s no IT department to call. It’s just me and an amazing team of freelancers! But again, I get flexibility from working this way.
How do you think your children would describe your job?
They probably think I just play with my laptop. That’s the great thing about my job and the online world – I really can do it from anywhere. I connect with and shoot people all over the world and often it’s all organized from my computer. Arabella often comes on shoots with me and is also in my shoots, which she loves. Unfortunately, Lottie is too little and would destroy the lovely homes we visit so she stays home (for now)!
The site has a very positive and inspiring tone. Did you consciously nurture that when developing the publication?
Definitely. The whole point of The Grace Tales is to make women feel good and to celebrate motherhood. Yes, motherhood is very messy and chaotic and in reality, not as glamorous as we make it look in the pictures, but there are other sites to visit if you want to see those kind of pictures (such as my personal Instagram feed!). We appeal to the style conscious mother who is interested in fashion, beauty, interiors, travel and more. We put a lot of effort into our shoots. There’s often hair and makeup and we work with incredible photographers. It’s a special day for the women we shoot and the photos are something they will treasure forever.
You obviously love to tell stories. Is that what originally attracted you to working in magazines?
I never thought about a career in magazines as the school I went to was very academic and a career in fashion wasn’t really talked about. I did work experience at Elle magazine when I was in Year 10 and was always magazine and fashion obsessed. I actually knew the entire script for the movie Clueless. I wrote it out, line by line, and memorized the whole thing. I’ve always been very passionate about magazines, and now my site, and so it has never really felt like work.
Are there any interviews or stories you’ve written for The Grace Tales that you are most proud of?
We profile a mix of celebrity mothers and then also just mothers who are doing cool things. There’s no one that stands out because I think they’re all amazing. All mothers are amazing.
Which are your favourite magazines, blogs and books that you read regularly?
The Design Files – Lucy is AMAZING and I love her site. VOGUE Australia because I’ll always love it. Beauticate – a beauty site founded and edited by my beautiful girlfriend Sigourney Cantelo. We only call each other about 20 times a day. Then, The Business Of Fashion, VOGUE UK and US, Into The Gloss, Refinery29.
Who are your favourite designers?
Bassike for making casual clothes cool. J. Crew for killer high street pieces. Seed and Country Road for great essentials. If we’re talking designer, the list is seemingly endless but sadly my budget isn’t so it’s more high street than designer clothes these days. I love a new designer skirt. Dolce & Gabbana is my favourite. Oh and Valentino.
Has becoming a mother changed the way you view the world?
It’s completely changed my world and it’ll never be the same. Life makes sense now. It’s so much deeper and I’ve never experienced a love like the love I have for my children. I don’t worry about little things as much anymore. I also am so grateful to my own parents for raising me and giving me the childhood I had.
What is the biggest lesson being a mother has taught you?
That prioritizing is everything and family and friends come first. Followed by work. I see my friends like family. They’re so important to me and I wouldn’t survive the more challenging parts of motherhood without them. Making sure my little family unit is ok is so important.
What do you think the biggest misconception about motherhood is?
That’s it’s like the Huggies adverts. It’s NOT. Well, not in our house. The first six or so months of each baby were the hardest of my life. I had serious health issues, lots of sleepless nights and basically fell apart. The good thing is, you do put yourself together eventually and as my own mother always says “they do grow up darling”. Each phase passes pretty quickly. I’m still sleep deprived and right in the thick of it with two lively toddlers but we take one week at a time.
You showcase the stories of a lot of very inspirational women on the website. Who have been your own female role models and mentors over the years? What do you think they would say about the success of The Grace Tales?
My mum is my role model. She’s the strongest, most determined and creative woman I know. Then my friends – they’re all wonderful and inspiring. They’re very supportive of The Grace Tales and often give me feedback, which is invaluable. My husband is also very supportive. They’ll all give me constructive criticism as well as praise – you need both and I really appreciate honest feedback.
You took a year off after you finished school to go travelling and then worked overseas in London and Dubai during your career. What impact has that time abroad had on you?
I hope our girls travel as much as I have. I have travelled all over the world and my mum was there pushing me to do it.
What do you look for in a family holiday destination these days?
If a hotel is too nice, it gets a little stressful with toddlers. We prefer renting a charming house through Airbnb which is kid-friendly. Otherwise, we love Bali or Fiji as it’s close. We don’t do plane trips well – our girls are 2 and 3 and travelling long distances is hard. We love little weekends away which we can drive to. Recently, we visited Collette Dinnigan’s gorgeous country home Surf And Stables in Milton, NSW. There were chickens and horses and the girls loved it. My husband is British so we hope to take them back to London in the next couple of years. I think a year from now and travelling will get a lot easier.
Do you have a favourite destination from your years of travel?
I honestly can’t pick one. Tibet because it was the most spiritual place I’ve ever visited. Mexico and Cuba for the colour and culture. Nepal for the kindness of the people. Dubai because I’ll cherish the years I spent living there forever and it reminds me of such a fun time in my life. I love travelling – I can’t wait to do more of it again once the girls are older.
How can we expect The Grace Tales to evolve over the coming years?
Watch this space – we have big plans both locally and internationally.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller.
She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health.
As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her appetite for adventure.
Read more about Skye’s story here.