"Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience. Do you know how the naturalist learns all the secrets of the forest, of plants, of birds, of beasts, of reptiles, of fishes, of the rivers and the sea? When he goes into the woods the birds fly before him and he finds none; when he goes to the river-bank, the fish and the reptile swim away and leave him alone."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
For those of us that don't call the American West home, it's easy to envy the idealism of the culture. There is a gentleness in its spirit, and a boldness in its stature. It's also easy to misinterpret the type of life that so many of the locals lead. Sunrises over the crest of mountains, the brisk cleanness to the outside air, intimacy & connectivity to nature and wildlife; the western culture brings with it a lost art of working hard and living simply, but is only a small, and often over-emphasized part of the comprehensive American West lifestyle. While the slow pace of the western culture is deeply embedded in the DNA of the locals, there is also a connectedness to things more familiar to the modern American culture.
Taylor Grady is an idealist and has been brought up with a balanced style of living that most could only dream of. Part of her life is spent on the ranch with cattle and cutting horses, and part of her life is spent as a fast-paced creative strategist. Taylor owns both GT Farms, a ranch that has been in her family for the majority of her life, and a creative studio called Hay&Co. On any given day, she can easily be found in front of a computer screen in the morning and on the backs of her horses by lunch. Taylor takes the concept of work-life balance to the next level. We had the opportunity to interview this incredible young woman and hear her story. Cheers!
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what keeps you busy.
Taylor: My name is Taylor Grady and I am a creative entrepreneur, business owner, and the owner of GT Farms in Ellensburg, WA. My daily grind is doing graphic design, project management and business admin for my new creative services firm Hay&Co. And you can find me working on the ranch over in Ellensburg with my dog, Wesley, my boyfriend and my family, pretty much any free week or weekend.
What is your personal background?
Taylor: I was born and raised in Kirkland, WA. My family owns and operates a heavy highway construction company, so I have been around trucks and big equipment my whole life. In high school, my family bought our Ellensburg property and we have been slowly building it up over the years to be the magical place it is today. I studied graphic design at Montana State University in Bozeman. Since then, I have been working in the creative industry and love collaborating with clients and creating strategic solutions using design.
You spend part of your life in the city as a graphic designer and part of your life on your ranch with cutting horses. What is it that draws you into these two very different lifestyles?
Taylor: Design allows me to meet and work with amazing people, learn about their industries, and develop unique solutions to challenges they are facing. In essence, with my fantastic partners at Hay&Co., what we are essentially doing through design, is empowering others with a toolkit for them to be successful. I love what I do. Design is my absolute passion. That said, there is something about looking at a screen all day that makes me want to get outside to the other things in life I love. GT Farms is a place for me to spend time with my family, get my hands dirty working outside, and ride my horses. It’s my personal oasis and it is always growing and transforming. In general, what I love about my current life is how both places provide me a lot of opportunity to see change, learn and grow. And that really excites me. My next goal is for my two worlds to collide. As a small business owner in creative services, my industry allows me the flexibility to work from anywhere. In terms of dreams, in the near future I can envision having a grain silo built out as an office somewhere on the Ellensburg property where you will find me doing design work, thinking strategically for my clients, and riding my horses during my lunch break.
Can you tell us more about your family ranch, GT Farms?
Taylor: Since I was young, my parents and I have a family tradition to go to the Ellensburg Rodeo. We’ve been to lots of rodeos over the years, and have always enjoyed going, but what we really loved was Ellensburg. It’s a special little college town in the heart of Washington. So we bought a small plot of property and decided to start building our dream getaway from city life. Some 10 years later, GT Farms is a labor of love. We have built a large barn with an amazing apartment above. We’ve fenced the property, grown hay, and buy and sell cows these days. We built a spectacular arena for our horses, with a GT Farms bar included of course. Our three horses live there full time, cows live there many days of the year, and my dog Wesley likes to consider himself the ranch manager.
For my dad and I, it is a passion, a place to always continue improving, maintaining, as well as a place to connect. There is never a day at GT Farms where there isn’t something to do, from fixing things, building, exercising the horses, moving cows, or cleaning. There is a lot of maintenance on a working ranch, but at the end of the day you get rewarded with a night cap in the bar. The property is really a combination of my family. My dad is a work horse and a dreamer. He comes up with big ideas and figures out how to get it done. My mom is the ultimate entertainer. You will never go hungry or thirsty in her care, and it is always top notch. I have always had the passion for animals, the way they are cared for, as well as a keen sense for design, from interior design to event planning. So, between the three of us, we keep the property in tip top shape and there is always something exciting going on.
What is your most memorable experience on the ranch?
Taylor: Every year we throw a big party and host friends and family for Labor Day weekend. Afterward, we are extremely tired after riding, partying, and cleaning all weekend long. Funny thing is, each year we say, “Wow, that was the best one yet!” So, I believe Labor Day weekend and Ellensburg Rodeo has a special place in my heart. It represents all of my favorite people getting together in my favorite place. We get to use and share the property, do event planning, and enjoy the rodeo, drinks, games, riding, and the list goes on. It’s just one hell of a good time.
What is your favorite part about working with horses?
Taylor: Horses are such unique personalities with so much heart. I don’t think I have ever worked with a horse that hasn’t taught me something. Cutting horses are just spectacular to work with, they have so much natural athletic ability and amazing instinct.
The three horses we have on the property always keep us entertained. Ben is my horse that I have had since he was four. I call him the Rodeo Clown. He is the prettiest of the bunch, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. Ben can always give you a good laugh. Mac is the jock. He is strong and keeps the other two in check. I’m pretty sure he would eat a herd of cow for breakfast if you gave him the chance. Then there is Sister, she is about as sweet and smart as they come. She rolls her eyes at the boys and would never, ever, give up on you.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Taylor: Adventuring with my boyfriend and our dog, Wesley, event planning, being out on the water – swimming, boating, fly fishing. I stay pretty busy and work a lot, so I enjoy being active and getting outside as much as possible.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Taylor: My dad has always told me: “You only get a chance if you try.” And with the Ellensburg property, my new business, and just life in general I give everything my all, otherwise I’m just selling myself short.
Are you a bourbon or rye gal?
Taylor: Bourbon, and I make a mean whiskey sour.