We had the good fortune of connecting with Gracie Padrón Steimle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gracie, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
As the daughter of a graphic designer, I knew that my schedule would likely be fixed at an in-house or agency position. I had watched my coworkers struggle with pumping at work, having sufficient maternity leave, or constantly feeling like they were having to choose between their work and the welfare of their children. I told my then fiancé that I wanted to start my own agency so I could have control over how I would raise our future children. Surely enough, my son was born the month before the world shut down for the COVID pandemic and being able to dictate my own schedule and where I worked was priceless to us. Now, five years after starting the business, I can pass on that sense of job security and flexibility to my currently all-female staff.
What should our readers know about your business?
I launched Padron Design Studio in 2017 after leaving an in-house position as graphic designer at Houston Grand Opera. I gathered enough freelance clients to be profitable from the very first month and quickly developed my niche in nonprofits. I gave up my car for six months so I could afford to start. I took temporary part-time gigs and networked as best I could via bus. I had a team of freelancers on call when I needed extra help, maintaining relationships so I could hire them when the time came. I grew my revenue by 30% every year until COVID hit. All my nonprofits suddenly needed to pivot to digital marketing because they couldn’t connect with the people they usually helped in person. The sudden growth allowed me to bring all our freelancers in-house and grow the team.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We had a blast when we lived in Midtown. Our favorite place to eat was Izakaya on Gray Street because the food was delicious but it also reminded my husband and I of our honeymoon in Japan. We’re also massive fans of anything by Chris Shepherd so Underbelly Burger and Georgia James, Lei Low Tiki Bar or Southern Yankee Crafthouse for drinks, or any bar by Bobby Heugel honestly like Anvil or Better Luck Tomorrow. The Museum District is great to hang out. We have memberships to most of the museums but we also love just sitting on the lawn at the Menil Collection. Houston is so wonderful to explore.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The greatest boss and mentor I have ever had was Tracy Ann Cockburn. She wasn’t a designer but she was a marketing manager and she made the small, stressed team feel like they belonged. She passed away a few years ago suddenly but there’s not a day I don’t think of her and use the leadership skills she taught me.