Interview with Brenda Cascio & Audrey Craig
Brenda Cascio and Audrey Craig, the mother-daughter team behind the vision, bring their impeccable style and taste to a lifestyle brand that defines effortless entertaining, parties and luxurious living.
GB Design House
and its subsidiary Gracious Bridal are one-stop resources for the timeless art of entertaining and nesting at home and the perfect details to celebrate a well-lived life.
There are so many options! A plethora of exclusive products can be customized with logos, monograms, names and phrases, all stylized to fit a fabulous lifestyle. GB Design House delivers the best in personalized hospitality bags, coasters, cups, invitations, napkins, gifts and so much more.
Hi Brenda & Audrey! Could you please introduce GB Design House and tell us a bit more about how you've grown the company into the success it is today?
Hi, I'm Brenda Cascio and I am the Founder and Creative Director of G.B. Design House.
In 2006, I started it, my daughter came on board immediately, Audrey Craig, she is now the CEO and president of G.B. Design House and we started it as a wedding favor business. I thought it would be a good opportunity, I had lost my art studio in a hurricane and didn't have any opportunity of finding a new space and I thought on a lark I will start an eCommerce business. I had no idea that it would grow and so she came on board really immediately as we were building it, and from that, we decided on the wedding favors because we would be going to the weddings and we'd see that there was a dearth of good favors out there and lots of people were getting married. My daughter's weddings were coming up. I thought it was a good opportunity and that little wedding favorite business grew when we started adding product and what we found was our clients were then coming back to us and saying ¨Hey I have a business, or My husband has a business. Can you do this? Can you do these promotional products?¨ And of course, our answer is always ¨Of course we can¨!. And we found that almost half of our business is non-wedding. So this past year we changed the name from Gracious Bridal to GP Design House and we're just thrilled as it continues to grow today. We have a lot of corporate clients and event planners and celebrities and that is always fun.
What are some of the main challenges of today's eCommerce industry? What were the best decisions you made when building the company's eCommerce offerings?
There are so many challenges in the e-commerce platform today. I would say that of main challenges there are, competition and an ever-changing playing field are the two biggies, regarding competition e-commerce sites or there's a low barrier of entry a lot of people can get into that field. So, it's like whack a mole. We have so many competitors that keep popping up literally daily, and you just can't keep up with it. So the best thing for us to do is we just put our head down stay in our lane, keep our designs really creative, we've got an excellent design team and so, we do that and then we offer killer customer service. I think that's the best thing that you can do to keep yourself fresh and to rise above all the competition that's out there and I do think competition is healthy and good. It keeps you up on your game, you don't get comfortable you just keep trying. So, I'm pleased that we have a design team that has that same attitude. It's a very collaborative environment.
The next challenge, I think, for e-commerce, it's an ever-changing playing field. Have you ever played a game where they change the rules in the middle of the game? Well, that's what Google does all of a sudden, you find yourself sidelined, you're not on page one anymore you're you're on in the weeds. So we have to stay abreast of all the changes, and, when you're a creative business you want to focus strictly on being creative and the fun part and the icing on the cake. Who wants to go clean the bakery? and essentially, that is what e-commerce is all about. It's taking care of the back door of the business.
What are the main benefits of running a business as a mother-daughter team?
There are a lot of benefits to having a mother-daughter business and I know you hear a lot of negative things about family businesses, but I would say on the whole it is very positive. First, you have a mutual respect and love for each other. You want the best. If I were to have gotten tired of the business I didn't have my daughter in it, I might be doing other things, but, when you want to see your child be successful, you'll work harder than ever before. We also have what makes it different for us, is in 2010, I turned the reins over to Audrey and so she is the president and CEO of the company. She makes the final decisions, we are very collaborative, as far as business decisions and design, however, at some point you have to have a hierarchy or there would be chaos. And so she is taken over, and ultimately she has the final decisions to make, and I trust her business acumen. So it's really good there.
The other thing is, we are more intuitive and in tune to each other. So, I will step in, I can see what's happening behind the scenes, I will step in and give her a hand and she does the same for me. We also had to, because it is creative and it is fun in a design business, and we found it was 24/7 so early on we made rules and we really do try to stick to that and honor those rules and that is ¨evenings and weekends are family¨. We don't talk business as much as we used to. We try to keep it personal. We try to keep it on the family and give each other also space because we talk all day long, so you have your evening, we will have ours and we will just be family and enjoy each other that way. It's been good.
How did you expand your wedding business into corporate clients that include Neiman Marcus, Kendra Scott, Miu-Miu, and others?
At GB Design House, we have expanded our client base where we started as Gracious Bridal in the wedding industry. Now we have a lot of corporate clients such as Kendra Scott, Tito's, Formula 1, Coca Cola, and we also work with a lot of event planners that bring us corporate clients.
I would like to say that we had a system in place and we followed that system and that is how we successfully did it, but honestly, they found us and I think that speaks well for our business and our designs that they came to us and now that we're working with a lot of high profile event planners they're bringing us some celebrity events, celebrity clients, and weddings. We did parties for Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, we've done some Real Housewives business and it's been really, really fun. If you ask me how we did it, I'd say to keep doing it we just have to keep being good at what we do. And they'll find us. It sounds a little bit trite but it isn't. It's just they found us and I'm proud of that.
What's next for GB Design House? Any new and exciting projects or services you'll be launching in 2019?
Well, what's next for G.B. Design House? We've come a long way since 2006 when we were selling curated wedding favors. We've grown into a full-fledged design house, we have an excellent team, I have an excellent partner with my daughter. We have just launched and I'm really proud of this letterpress invitations. Also, our own collection of foil invitations, and that's really exciting.
We've got a lot more event planners that come to us for special projects and invariably when they bring us something new and say, Can you do this?, the answer is ¨Absolutely, we'd be happy to!¨.
So, the letterpress and the fleshed out invitations we have in our design studio here in Austin, we are slowly adding them to our web site. We are putting them on our Etsy store which is Gracious Bridal. And, who knows what the end of 2019 does. I'm sure it's going to be something fabulous. Thanks.