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Grateful Bags: Apex mom finds success with interchangeable monogram bags, passion helping kids in need in Africa

Posted July 8, 2018 8:40 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 3:24 p.m. EDT

Courtesy: Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

— Jenny Ross has had more than a few entrepreneurial moments. But a critical one - that led to the 2013 patent for her interchangeable monogram concept - came in the middle of the night.

Since then, Ross, who lives in Apex with her husband and two teenage sons, and her Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags, have been featured in INC. Magazine, Inside Weddings, Life & Style, Buzzfeed and elsewhere. And while her business and design work certainly could be all-consuming, Ross also finds time to advocate for another passion - the ZOE organization, a group that helps orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.

I checked in with Ross to learn more about her handbags and her work with the ZOE organization. Here's a Q&A.

Bag made by Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

Go Ask Mom: Tell us about what you offer?

Jenny Ross: Grateful is line of handbags with the patented concept of interchangeable monograms. Because of how the acrylic monograms snap on and fit every style, you can get one monogram for several handbags or several monograms to change up the look of a single purse. There are a variety bag sizes, styles, and colors to choose from. And women love to customize their initials with different fonts and colors. They personalize it and make it their own.  It’s fresh, it’s new and it oozes uniqueness.

GAM: How did Grateful Bags get its start?

Jenny Ross: Grateful began from a combination of ideas that came together. I had an embroidery business, and monograms were the most requested thing for me to stitch. Around the same time, I received an acrylic monogrammed necklace as a gift. And that Christmas, my nieces got designer purses with the big round logo on the outside. So in January of 2012, I woke up my husband in the middle of the night and said, “Why can’t the purse logo be your monogram or your brand?” So after intense research, and a lot of trial and error, I patented the concept of these acrylic monograms attached to handbags and accessories.

Bag from Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

GAM: As part of your work, you emphasize the importance of gratefulness and giving back? How do you do that through your work? And how do you teach that to your kids?

JR: The word Grateful represents that even in dark moments and hard days, we all have so much to be thankful for. It’s about appreciating the little things and being present in the moment. And it must resonate with people because our super soft T-shirts with the word Grateful on them are some of our best-sellers. People want to wear the message.

The verse Luke 12:48, “For those to whom much is given, much will be required,” has a lot of meaning for me and for Grateful. (It’s painted on my kitchen wall J.) Giving back is our ongoing responsibility and commitment.

We have the honor to be connected to the ZOE organization which is a distinctive three-year-program developed in Africa that empowers orphans and vulnerable children around the world to overcome extreme poverty and become fully self-reliant. ZOE has over 30,000 children currently enrolled. What I love about ZOE is it’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up. We went to Rwanda and brought our two sons to meet the children we help support and came back even more passionate to advocate for this program.  Find out more at

Bags from Apex-based Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

GAM: How have you been able to blend motherhood and business? Any tips to finding "balance" or is the struggle real?

JR: If the never checked off to-do list (iron, catch up on pictures, try new recipes, clean up inbox) is any indication, the struggle is real.

I think the idea that we can juggle all the balls in the air is false. Sometimes we have to let one drop, and that’s OK. Every mom and every business is in a different season. Sometimes they flow better, and sometimes they conflict. We have to cut ourselves some slack and create boundaries around our priorities.

I’m about to have a senior in high school, so I’ll be shifting the balance to enjoying our last year around the dinner table together. And maybe I’ll get to those new recipes while I’m at it J

Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

GAM: What are your plans for Grateful Bags going forward?

JR: This fall we have a NEW game day bag coming out. We previously created our Izzy bag to comply with the recent stadium bag restriction policies which is either a clear bag or a small clutch the size of your hand or 6.5” x 4.5”. All NFL and most NCAA stadiums have implemented these size limits along with arenas, concerts, and other venues.

The Izzy was exactly that length x height, but with very little width to it. It didn’t hold much. With a slight redesign, our new Zoey bag has about an inch and a half of depth to it and the zipper rounds down the sides so this bag is AMAZING for hands-free tailgating in style! It comes in eight colors and we’ll bring back some monograms in school colors this fall. So the bag and monogram combination in team colors is a big hit.

Interchangeable monograms from Grateful, Initially Inspired Bags

Find out more about Grateful Bags on its website. And Go Ask Mom readers get this exclusive discount: Use WRAL30 for 30 percent off Grateful Bags' entire site!

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