With 155,000 followers on Instagram, entrepreneur and home stylist Jill Stout has an international audience. Through her business, GatheredGrace, she’s taken her talent for creating warm, welcoming spaces and made it a brand — a brand that has top home interior retailers wanting her to give their products a nod on social media.
It’s those relationships, and ones she’s made with followers and fellow bloggers, Stout said, that make life sparkle. “The best part of my job is connecting with others in a positive way,” she said.
WACOAN: How would you describe your business/service/work at GatheredGrace? What services do you offer? What can you do for Wacoans to enhance their homes and lives?
Stout: I offer interior decorating and home staging services. I also offer holiday season decorating.
WACOAN: In what ways can someone create a warm, welcoming and comfortable home?
Stout: You can really make a house a home and create a warm environment by using soft lighting, using window treatments and also decluttering your home. A soft color palette with textures offers a comfortable feel.
WACOAN: How would you describe your personal style?
Stout: My style is traditional at home. I usually stay in a neutral color palette with browns, blacks and whites. I love using fresh flowers for added color.
WACOAN: How about what you wear?
Stout: As far as my fashion style, I’d say classy, yet a bit trendy.
WACOAN: When and how did you first become interested in interior design?
Stout: I always saw my parents cooking and decorating for the holidays. They would create their designs to sell at local flea markets. I have always loved creativity in home decor.
WACOAN: And how did you get to Waco?
Stout: While living in Indiana I was introduced to my husband, Sean, by his mother. I traveled long distance for over a year. Fast forward, we’ve been married for 28 wonderful years.
WACOAN: What did you do before creating GatheredGrace?
Stout: After college, I pursued a career as a hairstylist. I did that for 14 years. Once we had Gracie, I became a stay-at-home mom until she left for college.
WACOAN: What exactly does a social media influencer do?
Stout: An influencer is a person who has the ability to influence others into purchasing certain items on their social media platform.
WACOAN: How did you build your brand and get so many followers on Instagram?
Stout: I started GatheredGrace as a hobby; it then quickly turned into a business. I now have over 150,000 followers. Several companies reached out to me for collaborations and advertising. I share decorating ideas with others to encourage and inspire them. Also, I love sharing recipes and everyday life with others.
WACOAN: As an influencer, who are some of your partners?
Stout: I have worked with over 100 companies successfully. Some are Walgreens, Serena & Lily, Birch Lane, Hickory Farms, Splenda, Cracker Barrel, Hunter fans, Mohawk rugs, Hello Fresh, Rugs America, Lamps Plus, FabFitFun, Maxim lighting.
WACOAN: Do you collaborate with any local businesses?
Stout: A few times a year I host a gathering in Waco for out-of-town bloggers. Many of the people come from out of state. I recently hosted seven influential bloggers who came from Canada, Miami, Connecticut and Kansas. Barndominium hosted us. Waco businesses like NuGenesis, Board and Brush, Slow Rise [Slice House], Waco Wine Tours, Courtney’s Boutique, Apricot Lane [Boutique], Backyard Waco and Lula Jane’s [were] so generous to offer us complimentary services.
The ladies who attend this write a blog post about their stay in Waco, which helps others that are coming to visit see all that Waco has to offer. It’s a wonderful way to share Waco with everyone and to come together to connect with other strong women. The one comment I hear over and over is how much they love Waco and what it has to offer. I am planning another in the spring.
WACOAN: Sounds like you’re really making your mark and by doing something you love.
Stout: I was a speaker in Atlanta this past summer at one of the largest blogger conferences, speaking on how to turn a hobby into a thriving business.
WACOAN: How would you describe your typical workday?
Stout: My day starts by checking my account, catching up on comments and answering questions in my [direct messages]. I am always collaborating with companies, so I have blog posts [to write], photos to take and edit. I enjoy what I do, and it’s nice to be your own boss.
WACOAN: Tell me about your family. Does your husband have a demanding job? How has he been supportive as you developed GatheredGrace?
Stout: My husband is Sean Stout. He works for Scarborough Specialties, a large advertising company based out of Lubbock. His office is here in Waco. He loves what he does and is successful at it. I admire him so much. He definitely supports me in all my endeavors, especially GatheredGrace because he sees the happiness it brings me and the potential it has. His best qualities are he is amazingly kind, always has a positive attitude and is very giving.
WACOAN: Tell me a little about your daughter, Gracie. Where does she go to school and what is she studying?
Stout: Our daughter is a beautiful, intelligent young lady who is very independent and strong-minded. She is attending Sam Houston State University. Her major is criminal justice, with a double minor in psychology and forensics.
WACOAN: How have you adjusted to the ‘empty nest’ life? How is life different now — what do you like, what do you miss?
Stout: We are now in our second year of being empty nesters. The change is tough at first, but you learn to adjust. We love the freedom to come and go, but we miss seeing her on a daily basis.
WACOAN: Do you like to cook? What are some of your go-to dinners?
Stout: Yes! I absolutely love to cook, that’s one thing I love sharing with my followers. Stews, soups and casseroles are always good. Some of my favorites are chicken enchilada soup and broccoli and cheese. Beef stroganoff is a delicious stew. My favorite casseroles are chicken Alfredo, chicken and rice, and cheesy taco casserole.
WACOAN: What kind of calendar do you keep, paper or digital?
Stout: All my business, including my agendas for the year, are all on my laptop.
WACOAN: What things keep you up at night?
Stout: Deadlines would be one. Also, thinking of Gracie.
WACOAN: What are the most important lessons you want to teach your daughter about life?
Stout: The best advice I can give to Gracie is to walk her own path. Believe in yourself and develop your purpose in life. Stay true to your beliefs.
WACOAN: How do you balance life’s good days with the tough days?
Stout: Taking care of yourself is essential. Create a great mindset and maintain a positive attitude.
WACOAN: In what ways are you spiritual?
Stout: I am a Christian who always tries to find the good in others. I am spiritually motivated. I do practice yoga; the power of meditation is incredible. Meditation is a positive, powerful tool to use for yourself to stay centered on what’s important to you. Meditation grounds you and helps you let go of what doesn’t serve you well.
WACOAN: What do weekends look like for you, busy or lazy?
Stout: I definitely like lazy weekends. I like going out for a bite to eat, going for long walks, squeezing in a yoga class and working in my flower gardens. I absolutely love to swim in the summer.
WACOAN: What kinds of things do you do for yourself to recharge and refresh?
Stout: Spending time with my family and friends. Walking daily and taking a yoga class is a great way to recharge and feel better about your life.
WACOAN: What are your passions, besides interior design and beautiful things? What causes are near and dear to your heart?
Stout: My passions are to be true to myself, empowering and helping others, being confident in my decisions and personal growth. I also love helping to promote small businesses with my Instagram account by featuring their business on @gatheredgrace.