Emerging from a potting shed in her backyard (with a brief stay in her garage) to a now thriving business in the middle of downtown Anderson, owner Cathy Gray is humbled with her recent success and thrilled with her nomination as Emerging Business of the Year!
By Kyle Morey, Madison County Chamber
Owner Cathy Gray by Dale Picket Photography
I first met Cathy Gray at one of our member orientation events. I quickly noticed she had 'presence' when she entered the room. You knew she was there and that she had a purpose. She was approachable, inspiring to speak with, and a joy to get to know. Right away I could tell that she had a vision and that nothing would stop her in accomplishing it. You can see evidence of this entrepreneurial attribute in her renovation of her downtown store front on 1331 Main St, her early adoption of the Walking Man phenomenon, and her "while you were out" home remodeling project (read more below). I am excited to announce her nomination for this award and look forward to keeping an eye on her emerging business. Learn more about Cathy Gray and Gray's Design Studio in my interview below.
Morey: What year was your company founded?
Gray: September 2010. The name of my original business was Interior & Garden Design by Cathy Gray and was founded in 2000. Gray's Design Studio was born when we opened in our new location at 1331 Main St.
Morey: What are the primary products/services of your company?
Gray: Interior Design Consulting, space planing, furniture, accessories, art. As the painted tree on the side of our building reflects we offer Gray's Remodeling construction services from room additions to new windows, roofing you name it we can do it! We have a boutique "Dede's with lovely purses, jewelry, and clothing. Also Miller Cabinets sell cabinets from our location.
Morey: What is your company vision?
Gray: My vision or purpose is to help as many people as possible love their homes. We are all so busy in our lives, with family, work, schedules. At the end of each day when we return home to a place of comfort, peace, and inspiring us to do it all over again the next day. Our homes should lift our spirits and this can be achieved at every price point. Everyone deserves good design and a home to love. We want to help our clients achieve just that!
Morey: What are the greatest challenges of your work?
Gray: Helping people make decisions! Sometimes that can be very difficult for people. Also keeping a proper balance with work, family and taking care of myself. Saying no can be hard for me when you love helping people.
Morey: What was your greatest achievement as a company in 2012?
Gray: I believe having a growing , prosperous business during a depressed economic time is a huge achievement. We have designed and delivered many beautiful projects to be proud of. Also our beautiful Veranda was constructed in 2012 and we look forward to many events this summer to break it in!
Morey: What are your company goals for 2013?
Gray: Making sure people know who we are and what we have to offer for them. Every day we have a new customer come in to our showroom to say they had no idea we sell furniture and are floored by the inventory that we carry. We are trying to plan more fun events such as cooking classes, wine tastings, girls night out!
Morey: What would be your ideal vision of your company in 2025?
Gray: Debt free! Calling in to see how the store is running from the beach in Hawaii!! Seriously, My vision is to be right here surrounded by other beautiful stores and restaurants in a quaint downtown that resembles a Zionsville or Broadripple with a passenger train stoping at our train station bringing shoppers looking for unique items found right here! I would love for more Grays coming up to get involved and keep this a family business for many years to come!
Morey: Why Madison County?
Gray: I was born and raised here and plan to be part of the solution for Anderson. We, as a community have so many things to be proud of. State park, Anderson University, Paramount Theatre, many beautiful areas downtown, Mainstage, and many other things. I choose to see what is good instead of bashing and talking about what we have lost.
Morey: What is one interesting fact about your company (or company president) that most people don't know?
Gray: Interior & Garden design began in the Potting shed in my back yard. Then it moved to my garage, then in 2002 inside gentry cabinets for 8 years! We decided to look for my own place and found this building and bought it from the City of Anderson. Gray's Design Studio was born in Sept. 2010.
Morey: What single word best describes the culture or attitude of your company?
Morey: Mac or PC in your company?
Gray: PC...although my personal computer is a MAC!
Morey: What do you and/or your staff donate time to?
Gray: We recently donated our time and services to a project in Redkey. One of my client's mother had to put her husband in a nursing home. The home was dangerous for her to live in: faulty wiring, messy plumbing...it needed to be totaled. We felt inspired to give her the home she never had so we completely gutted and rebuilt a house for her. We had a budget in the beginning but so much needed done my husband and I spent every dime and then some to make her dream come true! She was gone for several months staying with her sister, but she returned home this past Sunday to move back in. We got to have our own "move that bus" moment! It felt like a privilege to be a part of this! Almost daily we get calls to donate items for local charities, we are also involved with many Christmas Family Charities. Second Harvest Food Bank has always been a charity I personally have donated to over the years.
About the Award
The Emerging Business of the Year award honors a Madison County-owned and MCC member company that has been in business fewer than five years and has fewer than 100 employees. The company must demonstrate the following characteristics to be nominated and must excel above others to win: demonstrate visible growth and achievements, adhere to the company's brand promise, invest in the community, and demonstrate the "cool" factor of a new business that energizes the community either in their product/service offerings and/or their corporate culture.
Gray's Design Studio, along with Home Instead Senior Care and Coeus Technology, will be honored as a finalist and possible winner of the 2012 Emerging Business of the Year award. Winners of this award, as well as the Small Business of the Year and Non-Profit of the Year, will be announced at the Madison County Chamber's Annual Awards Gala held on February 28, 2013 from 6 to 9 pm at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Anderson. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling Betsy at 765-642-0264.