We had the good fortune of connecting with Gracie Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gracie, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
One thing that people who are not in the branding industry may be unaware of is the level of research and strategy that goes into building a successful brand. Branding involves much more than just creating a logo or choosing a color palette. A brand is a combination of tangible and intangible elements that work together to create an identity and experience that resonates with consumers. Your brand is everything as a business owner. If your brand isn’t connecting with your employees, customers and clients, or your audience, your business growth will be stagnant.
At the GT Studio, we conduct extensive brand audits for our clients including employee and customer insights, competition and industry landscape and target market analysis to really understand what is connecting and what is not for existing organizations, and what needs to connect for new businesses. We don’t do any projects without this audit. From there, we create brand messaging, positioning and a visual experience that communicates the brand’s values and choice factor in a way that connects meaningfully with their audience.
Overall, branding is a complex and multi-disciplinary field that requires a deep understanding of business, marketing, psychology, design, and strategy. We aren’t just artists!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
After designing brands for small businesses on the side for six years, I decided to take the leap and start my own strategic brand consultancy, The GT Studio, at the age of 23. At the time, I was struggling to keep up with the demands of a 9-5 job with an autoimmune disease, and it was clear that entrepreneurship was the right path for me. Joining my love for design with my understanding of what drives consumer behavior, I created an innovative model of a branding agency with a focus on building strategic connection.
Getting started as a young entrepreneur wasn’t easy, especially when my biggest sell was that we were more of a strategic consultancy than a design agency. There aren’t many people out there who will hire a 23 year old to consult them on their brand. However, my history of starting and selling a business before I was 20 paired with my education and previous experience gave people enough to take a chance on me. Through providing great experiences, work, and meaningful results, the GT Studio now operates on at least a 6 month wait time, is serving multimillion dollar companies, and works as the choice agency for rebranding a New Orleans private equity group’s portfolio companies.
Because of my experience, I’m a strong believer that age is just a number. To any young, female entrepreneur out there who is feeling like they have to wait until they’re a certain age to kickstart their business– just do it! The more experience you can have under your belt the better and you’re never too young to get started.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My husband and I have been living in Houston for a little over two years now and are still eating our way through the city. We are huge foodies and love trying all of the new spots! My favorites are sushi at MF Sushi, Ume, or Uchi, margaritas at Goode Co. Cantina, matcha and breakfast at Vibrant, smoothies at Bebidas or Green Fork and Straw, lunch from Local Foods or Tiny Boxwoods, and a casual neighborhood dinner on the patio at the original Carrabbas. If it’s nice out, shopping around the River Oaks District, walking in memorial park, and walking through Thompson + Hanson would be high on my list.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My success is far from my own. I’m grateful for my Dad for raising me to think like an entrepreneur and for teaching me that integrity in business always wins, for my Mom for telling me I can conquer the world and for teaching me the art of storytelling, for my mentor Bret Starr of the Starr Conspiracy for encouraging me throughout every stage of business and challenging me to think bigger, and to my husband for supporting me and encouraging me daily. The ultimate credit will always go to Jesus because every gift comes from Him.
Bailey Hart Photography