She's Empowered by Empowering Women


By: Samantha Shaw, Founder of Maker's Movement

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“Women’s Empowerment is having a moment right now. But let’s be real, it should ALWAYS be having a moment. Empowered females take the script life gives them, and recognize that they have a choice as to how to live out their own. They know they can choose pursuits that will make them happy, independent of other peoples’ opinions. Empowered women also see other women and recognize their potential and WANT to support and celebrate them.”

—An excerpt from Grace’s piece in Issue 4: Women

In light of the upcoming issue of Maker’s Magazine, I’m flipping the focus of the feed and blog to match that of Issue 4 — Women. We’ll be extending the dialogue beyond the pages of the issue, exploring what women means to different people, and celebrating all the awesome ones around us!

Today, I’m taking a moment to celebrate the work of a business partner turned friend; meet Grace Gulley, entrepreneur, community leader, feminist, and Founder of CYL Collective

For those of you that have been following along with either of our respective platforms, you probably know that Grace and I love to collaborate. Our most recent being a massive giveaway for female creative entrepreneurs (thank you to everyone that entered!), and our ongoing seasonal online market, The Handmade Pop-Up. When Grace and I join forces, we’re able to present the community with projects that combine the strength of our collective expertise, ideas, and dreams.

As I began pulling together content for Issue 4: Women, I couldn't help but think of Grace and the incredible community of women she's created and nurtured over the last couple years. I thought about the kindness and encouragement she puts out into the world, and how that's organically helped her build such a positive and open space for women in art and business. Confident she would bring something unique and inspiring to the issue, I encouraged Grace to curate a series, and DID SHE EVER! 

In the newest issue you'll find Grace's series entitled, I AM A WOMAN PHENOMENALLY, where she’s shared her thoughts on community and women's empowerment, and has curated an incredible collection of narratives from women of the CYL Squad on what it means to be a woman artist today. (Click to shop Issue 4: Women!)

Being a metalsmith is a non-traditional role for a woman. I choose to call myself a metalsmith rather than a jeweler for several reasons. First, it credits smithing – the archetypal component of my practice – and it also challenges perceptions of what it means to work in an uncommon setting as a woman. I forge with fire and wear a respirator mask. My tool collection is extensive, and my anvils are my best friends… I take pride in the fact that my work defies expectations and norms. It is not driven by conventional ideas of beauty, or femininity.
— An excerpt from Bramble Lee’s piece in the CYL Squad Series

The CYL Squad is pretty bad ass.

After you read the CYL Squad series in Issue 4, you'll know what I mean.

Grace is the fearless leader to a community of creative women, aka the CYL Squad. The Squad is a vibrant group of female artists and makers that support one another through the ups and downs of running a small business. Beyond the community aspect, the CYL Squad is a membership-based program that provides you with the resources you need to thrive as a creative entrepreneur. The program provides a wealth of connections in the art industry, collaboration opportunities, exclusive e-courses, resource libraries, live chats with experienced entrepreneurs, member forums, quarterly intensives, public listings, social media exposure, etc.

I’m amazed at the sense of community Grace has cultivated, and the resources she continually adapts to meet the needs of her squad. Community is exactly what you need after spending weeks alone in the studio creating, and then weeks hunched over the computer taking care of the online world.

Grace's energy and drive is contagious, and today we celebrate her and the women of her community!

Communities are essential to the enrichment of the human life. It allows us to share our experiences, offer value, receive advice, develop beneficial relationships, and work towards a common goal. Without community we are isolated and alone. And as makers and artists, that feeling of disconnectedness is one that is all too easy to slip into.
— Grace

craving creative communion?

I am.

Eager to learn more about the Squad experience, I touched base with some current members from her community to glean some insight on program highlights and what aspects of the Squad they value most. Here's what they had to say:

Ashley Campbell of The Beige Motel

Prior to joining CYL I was in the beginning stages of branding & selling my products online. Honestly, what made me want to join was knowing that a lot of artist & makers that I admired (including Grace's work) were involved. While I have lots of supportive friends & family, It's been nice to meet other creative women that are going through exactly what I am, all while getting advice from women who are more established!

Grace has created a community of awesome, engaging, creative and inspiring women. I can only assume it is a true reflection of her own character! Grace has created a forum where I feel comfortable asking questions, in an environment free of judgement.

I've met so many talented artists & makers through CYL and I've learned so much about being a creative entrepreneur! When I had an obscure business question, I was thrilled at the positive responses. Questions that I feel only someone who has experienced it firsthand could answer. That's truly priceless.


Michelle Chesson of Roving Textiles

Before I joined the squad I had stopped moving forward, both creatively and with my business. I had reached many of my goals, and sales were decent, but I felt that I needed help to gain some momentum. I decided to join the squad, because how could I not learn something from the awesome girl boss members.

In the short time that I have been a member, I have met some pretty inspirational women. The support that the group gives is unlike anything you could get from friends or family. The squad have been where you've been and each person has so much to give to the group. There is always someone out there to give advice and support. I have also learned more about branding, website design and social media. I've even been inspired to run a retreat in the future.

Every creative entrepreneur can benefit from learning from other small business owners. There is always something more that you can bring to your business and the CYL Squad can point you in the right direction.


Marisa K. of The Bohemery Co.

When I found CYL I was just starting out with my macramé business. I had just opened an Etsy store and had just started on social media. I didn’t have an artist or business background, so I was really starting from the ground up with just a passion and an idea. I needed to find fellow makers who looking for a community like I was. I stumbled onto CYL Collective through Instagram and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Grace is an inspiring leader because she comes from the same background as many of her fellow artists come from: looking for a community of like-minded artists and entrepreneurs where they can come together to lend support, advice, and empowerment. She has created a multifaceted venue for us to come together from all around the world, and continues to lead the way by being a positive, thoughtful, and innovative force in the maker world.

I have learned more through CYL for my business than any other blog, book, or website could provide. By bringing together such a diverse group of women Grace has created a network of knowledge that is indispensable. CYL’s articles have taught me the basics of selling, marketing, and focusing on my short and long-term goals. The community of CYL members are always available to answer any questions I have (and I have a lot!). I’ve learned how to add wholesale to my shop, the easiest ways to ship internationally, what e-commerce platform is right for my business, how to file quarterly taxes (a big one!), and what to do when I feel overwhelmed and overworked. I attribute a significant majority of the success I’ve had so far to the knowledge and support I’ve received through CYL, I wouldn’t be in the position to succeed without them.

I recommend CYL to almost every fellow artist I meet, online and in person. I recommend it because I know most artists and small business owners like myself are often one person shows and are also looking for a community to belong to. I’ve met some wonderful people and made some great friends, and I think everyone should have the opportunity to excel with a community like CYL.

The CYL Squad is a community of female makers who believe that creativity is not a competition. We understand that with one another’s support, we can all profit and be successful in our endeavors. When you join the CYL Squad you join a group of women who are passionate, uplifting, supportive and from all walks of life.
— Grace

Interested in joining the Squad?




As the illustrious Maya Angelou said, “I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.” I believe all women are phenomenal and we all have a responsibility to help one another find our light and let it shine. I consider myself beyond blessed to have so many empowered women stand beside me who share in this sentiment.
— An excerpt from Grace’s piece in Issue 4: Women

Interested in reading Grace's series in the current issue?


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