Grown is an independent, woman-owned creative agency based in Saint Louis, MO committed to making work they are proud of with the people they like. The three-person team prides itself on being “scrappy” and having the ability to dive down deep into their projects.

Founder Caroline May and Creative Director Terri Mitchell have been working together in the advertising field for at more than half a decade. But each brings years of experience and a unique blend of skill and creativity to the budding agency.

While the name Grown has several meanings, the root of the name stems from a conversation between May and her son.

“[He] was four at the time, and I referred to someone as a grown-ass adult. He asked me what that meant so I had to explain to him what I meant. I told him that a grown adult was a grown-up person, but a grown ass adult was a grown-up person who takes accountability for themselves and the impact they have on other people,” May explained.

That sentiment of accountability and impact is something that resonates deeply with the team at Grown.

While that conversation sparked the idea, the meaning has – grown, to become more.

Grown means growing businesses, growing relationships, and even growing cannabis.

Rayfield, May, and Mitchell | Grown | Photo by Noa Azoulay

While not a cannabis-specific company, the team at Grown has deep roots extending into the cannabis industry. Mitchell was a speaker at the launch of MIZBIZ at MOCann BizCon+Expo back in 2020, MIZBIZ would grow to become JAINE, an organization focused on supporting, honoring, and educating women in cannabis. With the rebrand, Mitchell designed a new logo for JAINE. She also worked with Tim Pickett to create the branding of GreenFrame at its launch.

This week, Grown has two pieces of art displayed at Wallflower, a project by Proper Cannabis’ New Growth Horizon charitable foundation at Work & Leisure, with one piece designed by Mitchell and another created by Design Director Dan Rayfield.

Greenway recently had the chance to speak to May and Mitchell ahead of Wallflower to find out a bit more about the company and how the team’s approach to creativity helps businesses grow.

How did you get your start in media and advertising?

“I just came into it wanting to be an artist, really, but hopefully an non-starving one with a job. After spending 5 years in the military, and experiencing life in a pretty restrictive environment, I needed to exercise some repressed rule-breaking. So I did a complete 180, and went to art school. And I found that for better or for worse, I’m really good at making art in a strategic way. And look at me, I have a job!” said Mitchell.

“I wanted to be a writer, on the flip side,” May explained. “So we would say that kind of everything in advertising flows down to art and copy at the end of the day. Writing and design come together to create whatever it is you’re creating, whether that’s a brand identity, broadcast or a number of experiences. It’s all a story and design together.”

“I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted a real job with health insurance. So I went to journalism school and then ended up in advertising sort of in a back way where I worked a lot in arts and culture coverage and eventually got hired by one of my subjects. There I had my first taste of writing for advertising where you could be overtly persuasive and try to convince somebody of something, which is closer to who I am anyway. So I ended up in advertising that way later in life, not fresh out of school,” May told us.

How the two of you meet?

“She grew up in Texas. I grew up in Illinois, but I think fate brought us together. We ended up working at the same place. That’s where we met. Have you ever met a person and thought, ‘Oh, you’re not at all like me but you are also like me in this important way?’ We just clicked and it went from there. We ended up working really closely together on that same team, and just really complemented each other’s skills and, strengths and weaknesses,” said Mitchell.

“Terri’s able to take things that I would not have ever imagined and bring them to life in a really, really cool and inventive way. We’ve been working together for over five years now,” May said.

May and Mitchell | Grown | Photo by Noa Azoulay

What is your vision for Grown for the year of 2024?

“I would say we want to build our client list, meet new people that we haven’t met around town,” May continued. “I feel like St. Louis is small, but it also is absolutely surprising how much there is yet to be uncovered. Our goal this year is to produce work that we’re really excited to show other people and to grow our little client roster. The long-term goal for the company is to have something sustainable that gives us all a means to make a living and to enjoy what we’re doing while we’re at it.”

What is it like being a woman-owned agency?

“I think as a woman-owned agency, and being so small in size, we can just do it our way and that’s an exciting thing to finally be in a position where we make those decisions and take the path that we think is right,” stated Mitchell.

“I do think advertising still remains male-dominated. It’s just nice to have a different perspective and a different way of doing things. The more people we can have in the creative field who are doing things their way and sharing their perspectives, the better for everybody. We’re happy to be another example of that,” said May.

Grown | Photo by Noa Azoulay

What makes the cannabis industry so unique and creative?

“They all have that startup energy that Caroline was just talking about and we’re all kinda outlaws in the cannabis industry. There is some sort of a rebellious spirit to it. Everyone grew up with cannabis being illegal. Now they’re adults, and it’s business, but it’s also there’s a different energy that makes it more fun and creative. Even with all the law changes regarding packaging in the state,” said Mitchell.

How can Grown help brands and companies in the cannabis field stand out?

“If I were to approach any branding project, I would just look at it and say, how could you be different from everyone around you? What’s a space that’s not being owned yet? Right? Where is there space that maybe someone’s not inhabiting? I think it’s just finding what is really true and authentic to that brand,” May concluded.


Featured Photo by Noa Azoulay

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