I’m Grace and I’m the farmers daughter that you’ve never heard of…
I was born at home, on a farm, outside of Minneapolis, Kansas. I’m the youngest of 7 kids, the only one with red hair, and the only one that had an urge to leave the farm. I’ve always been very different from my siblings from the way that I dress to the way that I think. Growing up I was always referred to as the mailman‘s kid and never truly felt like I belonged, I was just a little girl with stars in her eyes aiming for the moon, surrounded by people with a dull and more logical way of thinking.
I fell in love with being in front of the camera at a young age. My mother used to take pictures of us kids and I was the only one that actually enjoyed it. I would beg my mom whenever she got a break from farm work to do photoshoots. I would pray for it to rain so she could have a day off because I wanted every chance I could get to improve. Being in front of the camera gave me the opportunity to express the many personalities that I felt without being judged. The camera saw me for me, it captured my emotions and left no space for being misunderstood.
When I was old enough to drive, I spent two summers driving 6 hour round trips to the nearest big city to take modeling classes to help grow my experience and skill but was often left discouraged from the end results when compared to the efforts I was putting in; which wore on my heart and I started to fall into believing all the doubts that had been chasing me for years.
When I was 19 I left the farm because of a terrible misunderstanding with my closest sibling. I chose to live in my car for the sake of my dog’s life; sounds dramatic but my dogs have always felt more like my family than my actual family did (at least at that point in my life). My family never understood me and that always made me feel so alone and often depressed. My dogs were the only things keeping me from taking my life when I went through my darker episodes of depression; I knew if I wasn’t around then they would be mistreated and I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving them all alone. I knew how it felt to be alone; they needed me just as much as I needed them.
After living in my car for a couple months I took a risk and moved to Denver Colorado to pursue my dream in modeling. I didn’t know anyone or anything about living in a big city but at that point in my life I had nothing to lose. I had already lost my connection with my family and I didn’t have a whole lot of friends to begin with.
I lived in Denver for 2 years, booked my own gigs, shot with many many great photographers and even walked the runway. I met some amazing people and some not so amazing ones. It was great waking up everyday knowing I was chasing my dream and accomplishing goals but the pressure of taking care of myself and 3 dogs, in an unknown city, surrounded by unknown faces wore on me. After being there for 2 years I realized I had reached my roof and if I wanted to pursue modeling even further, I would need to relocate.
When my female dog became pregnant it put me in a very difficult situation to try to find a place that would allow 3 dogs with puppies on the way. I knew I had no choice but to come home, back to Kansas. I remember feeling so scared because I had no idea how I would be treated by my family. I left home thinking I would never ever come back but here I was looking to go back.
I started calling my dad because my car had broken down several times and I knew I couldn’t afford to take it in to an actual mechanic so I was left no choice but to repair it myself. That left me so grateful for everything my dad had taught me about mechanics. I would call him just to ask questions to make sure I knew what I was doing and the fact that I was repairing my own car and building my own tool set out of a shoe box made him proud; which was the first time he had ever told me he was proud of me.
When he mentioned that he didn’t have much help and that he was working harder now than he had to 20 years ago, I jumped on the opportunity and asked if I could come back and work for him. He was surprised at first, wondering why I wanted to come back but I told him I needed a break from the city and I needed somewhere to raise the puppies. Thankfully he welcomed me back with open arms, let me and the dogs move into an old old house on some of his ground, that I call my Hippie Shack.
Since being back on the farm, I’ve been able to appreciate all the simple things of living in the boonies that I once took for granted. I’ve gotten the chance to mend relationships with my family and spend time with them like I never got to before. They still don’t completely understand me but they know now I won’t shape myself into their expectations regardless of how much they may want me to. They respect the fact that even though I’m different and I get a lot of spite and at times hate directed towards me, I’m still here to work my ass off just like them.
I worked as my Dad’s only hired man for about 9 months. Took that time to grow as a person and to save up money for my next move- Los Angeles.