Audrey Craig is President and CEO of GB Design House and it’s subsidiary Gracious Bridal, 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.
GB Design House has contributed unique design elements to enhance special events for corporate clients such as Neiman Marcus, Kendra Scott, the NFL, Miu-Miu, Prada, Lululemon, Coco-Cola, Crown Royal, the San Antonio Spurs and Titos, etc. In the celebrity space, she has worked with "Real Housewives of Atlanta" Porsha Williams; "Real Housewives of Dallas" LeeAnne Locken; "Bachelor in Paradise" couple Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon; fashionista Nicky Hilton Rothschild; Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Lipinski; and actress Sabrina Bryan.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I graduated from the University of Texas in 2003 with a degree in Corporate Communications. After graduation, I began working in sales and marketing but was eager to find something tapping into my creative ability.
In 7th grade, I had started a small side business and since then, I always yearned to do something entrepreneurial. So after graduating and being in the workforce for a few years, my wheels were churning on how I could do something challenging, creative and be self-employed!
What inspired you to start your business?
After being involved in planning several weddings, my mother, artist, and entrepreneur Brenda Cascio, noticed a lack of beautiful wedding favors options and decided to start Gracious Bridal. I left my current job at the time and jumped on board.
Where is your business based?
GB Design House's design studio is based out of Austin, Texas and is also online at gbdesignhouse.com.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Gracious Bridal began in 2006 curating wedding favors and decorations. We started small and worked non-stop. We were very lean at the beginning, which was especially helped us to make it past the 2008 recession. With us being in business for less than 2 years, it was tough! We kept our heads down and powered through. At that time, we learned to get really creative and branch out into new products to diversify our offerings. As Gracious Bridal customer base grew, we started attracting more and more corporate clients expanding into today's GB Design House.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Three things have been instrumental in raising awareness of our business:
1. Social Media - has been a great platform for GB Design House. We post beautiful photos of our featured items and clients tag us in personal photos, hence, showcasing what we do.
2. Word of mouth - we pride ourselves on outstanding customer service. And therefore, we have a lot of repeat business as well as referral business.
3. Press coverage – we have done many celebrity events and our products have been featured in a variety of press outlets such as People Magazine, US Weekly, Forbes, Brides, etc.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge as a business owner is learning when to stop and take a break. It is hard as I am usually working seven days a week and raising two small children. I'm always navigating the waters of putting work aside to take a break and enjoy my family. It is a constant struggle but I am always more focused with my time, whether it is with my kids or with my employees at our design studio.
How do you stay focused?
Lol! I drink coffee and I take my lunch break exercise. That helps me re-focus, then come back and focus on the tasks at hand.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I think what sets GB Design House apart is our excellent customer service. We treat every order and customer just like we want to be treated. We design and create all of our clients' orders based on their needs and wants and nothing is placed into production until they approve the proof. This helps ensure the customer is getting what they want!
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
I think it is pretty much the same answer as #5. Social Media and Customer Service is key for us!
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Work hard, don't give up and keep trying! Over the past 12 years, our business has learned to morph as needed. Make little tweaks along the way until you get to where you want to be. Successful entrepreneurs cannot work Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. This is your baby, so work hard and you will see results.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
I'm still old fashion - instead of an app I use an organizer journal where I write all my appointments and to-do list in. My favorite book at this time is “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis! Very inspiring and really gets me motivated!
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I love reading books about managing and growing businesses as well as self-motivation! Those help keep me inspired and provide ways to keep growing GB Design House.
Who is your business role model? Why?
My mom. She had other successful businesses when we were kids, and while she insists she constantly worked, my sisters and I always remember her nearby, making dinner, taking us to school, etc. She worked at night after everyone went to bed. She was the master at balancing business and her family.
What is your beauty routine? What are some of your favorite products?
I love Beauty Counter products that are great for your skin. At night, I wash my face, apply moisturizer, and exfoliate three times a week. In the morning, I begin with sunscreen, then continue with moisturizer, and then apply my makeup. Living in Texas where it is HOT, it is important to keep my face moisturized and safe from the sun. Beauty Counter makes the best.
How do you balance work and life?
It is a work in progress! I try and turn it off when I get home from work and my kids are done with school. I am usually back on my computer after the kids go to bed. I try and limit my weekend work to Saturday mornings so the rest of the weekend is time with my family!
What’s your favorite way to decompress?
Reading, spending time with my husband and kids, and enjoying a nice glass of wine :)
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Business wise, we are working hard on coming out with new lines and products! GB Design House has some very innovative products on the horizon. Personally—I plan to take a few trips with my family and friends to unwind!
How can our readers connect with you?