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Hey Girl Hey!

Aspiring Co. is here to remind you to chase your dreams relentlessly and to inspire you when you feel like giving up. We are telling the stories of women who are fighting everyday to pursue a life of meaning.



By: Danae Edmonds

Marissa and Shelby have created a beautiful and carefree lifestyle brand that I can't get enough of. They have such a whimsical element to all of their pieces! I love their designs and their commitment to uplifting women through their products. Get to know the women behind the brand, MRAY.

Left to Right: Marissa Monroe & Shelby Newsome

Left to Right: Marissa Monroe & Shelby Newsome

Name: Marissa Monroe and Shelby Newsome

Age: Marissa 27, Shelby 26

Job Title/Company: MRAY, Marissa – Designer & Sourcing; Shelby – Marketing & Operations

Education Background:

Marissa – NC State University, B.S. Fashion & Textile Management

Shelby – UNC Pembroke, B.S. Mass Communication

1.     Tell us a little about who you are:

We are a lifestyle brand creating fun, positive + expressive apparel and accessories. Our products currently consist of tees and lapel pins/enamel pins, some of which are hand drawn. Our message is short, but powerful, “live your life!”

2.     What sparked your interest in starting MRAY?

We both wanted our own business! We both wanted to create and both had something the other was missing, so we make a really great team in that aspect, so when we met it just worked!

3.     Who are you most influenced by?

For both of us, we are most influenced by our parents. We are inspired by our parent’s strength, determination and what they’ve accomplished for themselves. They are forever a support system and our biggest cheerleaders.


4.     What were your first jobs and how long did you hold that position?:

Marissa: My first job was at a local grocery store, I was a cashier – it was cool, but my real passion was fashion.

Shelby: My first job was babysitting. For a few summers, I babysat for a family friend. They had 3 kids and we’d hangout all summer.

5.     Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?

Marissa – When we opened the box with of very first product! We were so nervous, and it took us what seemed like forever, because we had to track the package down at the airport – when we opened the box, we absolutely loved it!

Shelby – Piggybacking off of Marissa, it was amazing seeing our first product, but also getting that first order from someone we didn’t know was big for me. When we first launched, the majority of customers were folks we knew. After a minute, we finally got an order and we had no idea who it was. I was pretty hype.


6.     What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?

Marissa – Just to get something out there, we had outlined goals and then we just kind of took a leap of faith and it worked out in our favor. Now, we just want to keep growing our products and creative community.

Shelby – the end goal for me is always the same: to eventually do this fulltime. It’s the smaller goals that are changing. We definitely are working on being more consistent with different products and are really working at building a community of positivity and creativity.

Failing. Not reaching the goal. It can be paralyzing but once you give yourself a shot, it’s only up from there.
— Shelby Newsome

7.     What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an entrepreneur?

Marissa – Perseverance, having your own business takes so much time + patience + work, but it’s so worth it!

Shelby – Just to believe in ourselves. We’ve come a long way from having an idea and executing on it but we still have so far to go. But now that we’ve actually made that leap, I know we can do bigger and better things.


8.     Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

Marissa – To be happy and really living my life! I would love to be creating full time with a larger team for MRAY.

Shelby – Working for myself. Financially secure. Truly living my dream. Truly happy.

9.     What is a typical day like for you?

Marissa – A typical day starts with my day job, I do sourcing for two childrenswear brands, which could be an array of things from vendor communication to fabric development to costing. Before work, during lunch, after work, weekends is when we work on MRAY – a MRAY day could be meetings at a coffee shop, a photoshoot or designing our next collection. Anything and everything that needs to get done!

Shelby – I work for a local nonprofit in Greensboro, so every day is different. From planning and executing an event, recruiting volunteers, setting up email campaigns or scheduling social media – every day is literally different.

I don’t necessarily believe in failure. I believe in lessons learned. There is always something to take away from every situation and almost always you can take away something positive.
— Marissa Monroe

10.  What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?

Marissa – Doubt! We took a while to finally get a product because of doubt. My mother passed away in January of this year and I realized it’s now or never. Life is so precious and we had to just go, to just try and see what happens, we created our first product and it was a huge success!

Shelby – Failing. Not reaching the goal. It can be paralyzing but once you give yourself a shot, it’s only up from there.


11.  What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Marissa – “TRY!” You have to try. You never know what you can achieve until you try.

Shelby – I’m not sure this is really advice, but someone once told me that “even on your worst day, you inspire”. It’s something I’ve never forgotten. I was going through a tough time and that served as a reminder that I’m here for a purpose, that I’m loved and that I can keep going.

12.  When do you get your best ideas?

Marissa - When I least expect them. I always keep a pen or my phone nearby for this very reason.

Shelby – In the middle of conversations. I’m inspired by the people around me, by their story and experiences.

13.  Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?

Marissa – I don’t necessarily believe in failure. I believe in lessons learned. There is always something to take away from every situation and almost always you can take away something positive.

Shelby – I’m with Marissa – When trying something new and it may not turn out as expected, I always analyze and try to improve the next go-round.



14.  How do you unwind?

Marissa – I don’t get to watch much television, but I love Parks + Rec, Scandal, The Mindy Project, something to make me laugh a bit or really get my attention.. ooooh and doodling + candles, I loveeee candles!

Shelby – Literally doing nothing and laying in bed. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I can be such a homebody.

15.  What would you tell someone who is struggling with balancing 9-5s and trying to get their side hustle off of the ground?

Marissa – Remember nothing worth having comes easy + YOU GOT THIS!

Shelby – Get that paycheck to fuel your dream.

16. What do you hope people take away from your story?

Marissa – That you can do whatever you it is you want to do. You have the ability to choose what you do with your life, to follow that dream, to make it happen. You just have to believe and put in the work!

Shelby – That when you give yourself a chance, like really give yourself a chance, you won’t regret it. How could you?


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