Many times you will want to throw in the towel, but it’s important to remember that in order to discover the rainbow, you must power through the storm.
Audrey Craig is President and CEO of GB Design House, specializing in custom branding fabulous events with personalized products and gifts. Blending her entrepreneurial spirit and design flair, Audrey brings style and savvy to a lifestyle brand that defines effortless and personalized entertaining.
Founded by Audrey’s mother, Brenda Cascio in 2006, GB Design House began as a home-based business supplying personalized wedding gifts, accessories and favors. In 2010 Audrey was named CEO, bringing her keen business skills and inherited sense of style. Under their leadership, GB Design House grew from an at-home business to a product and branding design house, earning more than one million dollars in annual sales online and in the Austin studio.
GB Design House has contributed unique design elements to enhance special events for corporate clients such as Kendra Scott, Miu-Miu, Prada, lululemon and Titos. In the celebrity space, they have helped brides including Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Tara Lipinski and Sabrina Bryan.
Audrey brings her Southern charm and design expertise to assist clients in gracious entertaining. Whether working with celebrity event planners, Italian fashion houses, corporate clients, or a single bride in the studio, she gives each her creative style and undivided attention with a personalized approach to their needs.
The University of Texas at Austin graduate holds a degree in Corporate Communications. Audrey’s business acumen and flair for spotting trends were apparent when she opened her first design business at the age of 13, creating and selling one-of-a-kind bookmarks to local gift boutiques, foreshadowing her future as an entrepreneur.
Believing in ‘giving back,’ she supports such non-profits as Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Health Talents, International. Audrey resides in Austin, TX with her husband Jerad, their two young daughters, and their dog Hank.
GB Design House is a lifestyle design house that provides personalized entertaining essentials and fabulous wedding details for the discriminating hostess and bride. Headed by a dynamic mother-daughter team, GB Design House has the experience to create elevated details, turning any special occasion, corporate event, wedding or party into the ultimate celebration. Their creative designs, custom products and elegant styles are a unique addition to any home or venue. GB Design House is the expert in Southern hospitality and trendsetting luxury. For more information, visit www.GBDesignHouse.com.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
GB Design House was initially founded as Gracious Bridal, a company whose passion was to fulfill a need in the wedding industry.
While planning my wedding, my mother and now business partner, Brenda Cascio and I were underwhelmed by the lack of intriguing products and design options to match the vision they had for custom wedding details.
Inspired, Brenda began creating personalized wedding gifts, accessories and favors. I joined the company soon after, and in 2010 was named CEO.
Together we grew GB Design House from an at-home wedding business into a multi-faceted product design house earning more than a million dollars in annual sales online and in the Austin design studio.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up around 6:15 a.m. and begin working before getting my daughters ready for school. By 8:30 a.m. I am at the gym, on the treadmill answering more work correspondence.
With coffee in hand, I arrive at GB Design House’s studio at 9:00 a.m. and start off the day with a team huddle. After we set our goals and day’s priorities, the work begins. My day includes working with clients and collaborating with the design team. After I leave the studio, it is all about kid activities, homework and some quality family time. At 8:30 p.m., with the kids tucked in bed, I hit my computer again. A few nights a week my husband and I will catch up on our favorite TV shows and enjoy a glass of wine.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always have a pen and paper near me to write down an idea. Needless to say, the best ideas seem to appear in the middle of the night or when I am in the shower! My business partner and I discuss the ideas and develop a game plan for implementation. Adobe Illustrator is our favorite design tool. Once the design matches the vision, we create physical samples and capture them in a photo shoot to put on the GB Design House website.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love turning a traditional idea or subject matter on its head.
For example, a big wedding trend for us is to replace the traditional wedding guest books with advice coasters. Personalized coasters and pens are scattered around the reception area and the wedding guests are encouraged to write sweet messages. All the coasters are placed in a keepsake album for the new couple to cherish.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I make a list every morning and prioritize it by importance. Lists help me stay focused on the goal.
In our business, listening to the customer is extremely important. Our customers are looking for something very specific and unique. Our items elevate their weddings, anniversaries, and parties, so getting the details correct is very important.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It’s okay to have “stepping stones.” After graduating from the University of Texas, I had a couple of positions in sales and marketing. Though those jobs didn’t necessarily lead me to GB Design House, the skills I learned gave me some of the building blocks and tools needed to run my own business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Today, many people think that everyone deserves a recognition ribbon. I believe that way of thinking breeds mediocrity. Hard work, perseverance, and knowing that if I fail, I can only blame myself which forces me to do better next time. We create our own success, and success takes hard work.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay positive! Many times you will want to throw in the towel, but it’s important to remember that in order to discover the rainbow, you must power through the storm.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
At GB Design House we focus on our client’s needs. Our personal and corporate clients are often planning some big events, and they are usually under enormous stress. Our personal touch, patience and eye for detail make each customer’s experiences positive and often results in repeat business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Google had one of their largest algorithm changes in 2012, and our website took a hit. It forced us to hunker down and market to new audiences that we have never before considered. That year we expanded beyond weddings and significantly increased our corporate and event planner clientele.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I eat, drink and sleep GB Design House, and have not considered other unrelated business ideas.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My husband and I recently had a nice and relaxing dinner in downtown Austin. We try and live by “work hard, play hard” – but running a business and being a mother of two young children, the “play hard” part rarely happens. Handing off the kids to their grandparents and enjoying the opportunity to reconnect as a couple is important.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Hands down, my favorite is Atlassian Hip Chat! GB Design House has employees in various parts around the world. We are able to communicate, screen share and collaborate as if we are physically in the same office.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
At 15, my dad made me read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. In order to become successful, you must think like a successful person. Applying the powerful fundamentals in this book will help set you up for success.
What is your favorite quote?
“Everything happens for a reason.” Those 5 words have gotten me through a variety of personal and professional situations. There will always be setbacks, but if you keep your head down and power through, you will eventually get to the next level!
- As an entrepreneur, a mom of two young children and a wife; it is important to maximize every minute of the day and utilize to-do lists to help achieve daily goals!
- Stepping stones and hiccups in a career path build resilience and tenacity!
- It is important to test a product, listen to the feedback from the target audience and be open to making changes.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.