Shark Tank Entrepreneur’s Tips for Taking a Break


Wondering if your work/life balance is a little off kilter? Melissa Hinnant, entrepreneur and founder of Grace and Lace (featured on Shark Tank), speaks with us about when she knew it was time to take a break and let her mind turn off.

(Click here for a chance to win a pair of the famous lacey lou leg warmers ™!)



4word: Share with us the backstory of Grace and Lace.

Melissa: I’ve always been a DIY kinda girl. I grew up with a mom who always made homemade play dough and birthday cakes, and sewed our dance costumes. So I learned to “sew a straight line” at a very early age.

In the spring of 2010, I was five months pregnant with a little girl. At a routine doctor’s visit, I was suddenly given the devastating news that without surgical intervention, I would give birth to our daughter within 24 hours, and she would not survive. I was rushed into emergency surgery to try to save her, and spent the remainder of my pregnancy in the hospital on strict horizontal bedrest. The days were incredibly L O N G, and since I couldn’t even sit up, I just had to do something with my hands! I started with a vision to crochet this tiny baby girl a blanket. And thus began and spurred my desire to sew, sew, sew.

481837_496206280402002_1109839714_n (2)For two weeks, I lived in the hospital until doctors could no longer stop the labor. Our very tiny, but oh-so-perfect, baby girl was born. With lungs not yet developed enough to survive on her own, the Lord took her straight to Heaven. Though heart-wrenching and devastating, I truly believe that out of this great tragedy has come our greatest victory.

My love for sewing and all things knit continued to grow. Late in the fall of 2011, I made my first pair of lacy leg warmers. Everywhere I went, people would stop and ask me where I got them. I put them up for sale online and in a matter of days I was overwhelmed with orders I could not possibly fulfill on my own! Now, just a few years later, Grace and Lace has become a full-blown women’s apparel company with trademarked designs, a full studio and warehouse, and friends and family as staff. A portion of every sale goes toward building orphanages in India!

It has been an exciting journey and we are beyond grateful for the many doors that have opened for us over the years. We are also incredibly grateful to have the most amazing mentors and team members, and loyal customers who keep coming back for more. We are humbled, grateful, and blessed!


4word: Is being an entrepreneur something you always wanted, or was it somewhat thrust upon you?

Melissa: I grew up in a family with a long line of entrepreneurs. My parents are entrepreneurs, their parents were entrepreneurs, and their parents were entrepreneurs. I’m not sure it was something I could have run from if I tried! However, I did not set out to start a business, which is why I often call Grace and Lace my “accidental company.” I was a stay at home wife/mother who often used my creative and DIY side to create all kinds of stuff. It wasn’t until the day I finally made this pair of lacy-topped boot socks that my husband encouraged me to put them up online to see if they would sell. They did (instantly!) and before we knew it, a business was born.


4word: Could you have ever imagined how successful you would be today? With what do you credit your success?

1505583_716361798386448_1965321919_nMelissa: When I made that first pair of lacy boot socks for myself, I had NO idea that one day those socks would lead to a multi-million dollar business with 50 employees and now over 600 products (SKUs). In the early days, I remember dreaming and wondering if Grace and Lace would ever become big enough for me to hire a couple of my other stay-at-home mom friends to help me while their kids napped. And eventually it did!  

In the last four and a half years since Grace and Lace started, we have become wildly successful. The business has just exploded, and we have done all we can to keep up with its growth. There is no way this business would be as successful and thriving like it is without our faith and trust in God.  Since day one, we have based our business on biblical foundations and principles with a passion to give back. There’s no question in my mind where our success comes from: God blessing a whole lot of hard work while we were faithful with the little things. 


4word: As someone with a no doubt very packed schedule, how do you find time to unwind and step away? Is it difficult for you to disconnect from work?

Melissa: Yes, this is huge. Since I started Grace and Lace, I have worked endless hours and well into the nights with no or very little sleep. Most days I don’t even think my brain shut off with the business stuff. My day-to-day schedule was very unbalanced and very unhealthy. It came to a point where my body was literally shutting down. I could not keep up with the business growth and demands and my health.  

Last summer, I took ten days and did NOTHING. NOTHING! I was ordered to not let my brain “turn on” other than to watch mindless movies and TV. It was one of the hardest things for me, but it was the start toward “healthy balance.” Now I realize the importance of balance and work towards it daily as a goal. It’s not something that can ever really be fully “achieved,” but I believe one can get better at it. As a family we also get away (escape, really) to the mountains of Colorado every summer. This has been a good and refreshing time to restore our souls.


4word: How important do you think it is for professionals to factor in vacation time?

Melissa: EXTREMELY! It is so important to take time away from the business and to turn your brain off and RELAX. It’s so hard to do as a business owner, but so vitally important.


4word: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Melissa: Over the last four and a half years, I’ve learned that finding “balance” in all the roles involved in being a “mamapreneur” is seemingly impossible. I’ve strived to give of myself equally in all the daily demands. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed for balance. What I have found is that it helps to make sure to identify priorities: God, family, business, etc. I’ve learned to accept the fact that there will be seasons of “leaning:” leaning a little more into business, leaning more into family, etc. Making a goal for balance is good – but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get there.



Do you think it’s time to take a break? When was the last time you did a “work/life balance check up?” Take Melissa’s advice and make time to turn your brain off. Your family, friends, and co-workers will thank you!






Want to win a pair of the famous lacey lou leg warmers ™? Click here to enter! Giveaway ends on Saturday, July 16, 2016!




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Melissa Hinnant is the founder and lead designer for her company Grace and Lace. Since her appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2013, she has taken her business from her garage with three employees to her own custom designed warehouse with over 30 employees. Grace and Lace has since been featured on The Today Show, The Meredith Vieira Show, Good Morning America, Cosmopolitan, and Success Magazine. What started as a small online store where she sold her original designed lacey boot socks almost 5 years ago, is now a multi-million dollar women’s apparel company. Since a young age, Melissa has always had a heart and passion to reach the poorest of the poor. As a result, proceeds from every sale go toward funding and building over 8 “Angel House” Orphanages in India. Melissa lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three small children.