Whitney Herndon---A Woman Who has a Way with Wood
Whitney is such a lovely spirit, both inside and out. I met her at a conference we both attended back in 2016. I fell in love with her work, and I thought the fact that all of it is conceived, manufactured, and shipped from our home state of Georgia just made her and it even peachy-er!
Part I: About Whitney
AAT: Who are you outside of work? Describe your life. Where can people find you after hours?
WH: I am a wife to my college sweetheart for 16 years, and I am a mother to Eli (15), Sam (11) and Emily (9). We can normally be found working on our historic home (built in 1890), at the beach, or riding our bikes through Downtown Brunswick for drinks and dinner.
AAT: What is one thing people may not realize about you?
WH: I always loved art and being creative growing up, but I never thought of myself as an artist. My degree is in business and marketing and I always thought I would work in the corporate world. So glad I traded the suit, hose and heels for my boots, overalls and ponytail!
Part II: About Her Business
AAT: Tell me about your business?
WH: I own Grace Graffiti; we an American manufacturer. Grace Graffiti is committed to making quality wooden products from scratch. From the first sketch of pencil lead to the last piece of tape on the box, all of our products are created in our studio in Historic Downtown Brunswick, Georgia. We believe in supporting our local community. We choose to design, craft & ship our products directly from our studio.
AAT: Tell us the when, where, why, and how of Grace Graffiti beginning?
WH: GG first began in our kitchen back in November of 2010. We weren’t official until 2012 when we moved into our first studio space on Newcastle St in Historic Downtown Brunswick, GA. At the time, I was working part time in marketing at a local business, had 3 children and knew my 30th birthday was quickly approaching. Looking back, turning 30 seemed like such a huge deal, like I needed to get my life together and plan for the future and be excited about going to work everyday. So I quit my job and started the hustle, and thankfully GG continued to grow. In 2015, we needed more space and purchased a building on the south end of Newcastle Street, where we plan to remain.
AAT: What has been your biggest trial?
WH: Trying to wear all the hats. There is always something that needs to be done. Growing too fast. Managing a team.
AAT: Yes!! That can be a lot; I know how that feels. What has been your biggest triumph?
WH: Everytime a wholesale customer re-orders or a retail customer comes back for more!
AAT:Where do you see your business in 5-10 years?
WH: I asked my daughter this question and she said, “You will be really old by then.” I hope I will always be an example to my kids that you can follow your dreams and passions. Success is going to look different to everyone, but I hope that even when our children have grown, they will be instilled with a strong work ethic and motivated to find their own success. That being said, I should probably sit down and map out my 10 year plan, like I said, there is always something that needs to be done.
Part III: About Her Business Collaborations
AAT: How did you know you wanted to collaborate?
WH: From day one, our focus was collaboration with buyers. Our goal is for each product to have a personal feel to it. We have collaborated with people, businesses, and brands since we began and I cannot imagine our business would be where it is today without those collaborations.
AAT: What have been the benefits of collaborating?
WH: Anytime you can widen your circle of friends and colleagues, it is a win. I have witnessed brands taking a chance on GG in the very beginning when we really did not have much to offer them and I am so grateful for their kindness. Several of our best selling products were born out of collaboration too. I always remember that and try to pay it forward by promoting and collaborating with new businesses.
AAT: What, if anything, would you do differently?
WH: A clear outline of expectations is always helpful. Getting all the business details out of the way really helps you to be able to communicate freely and creatively.
AAT: One thing you have learned from working with other businesses?
WH: That I am normal. Sometimes you can feel so isolated when you own your own business and that you are crazy, or doing things all wrong. Being connected to other business owners helps me feel like I am on a team and encourages me to keep on going strong!
AAT: What is you advice or gracious counsel for businesses that want to work with other businesses?
WH: Just reach out- email, DM, just do it! We can think we have to have it all together before we reach out or that there is no way the business or person will want to work with us. Lies! Just reach out with a friendly and authentic hello...it could be the start of something amazing!
YES! To everything Whitney shared. And, YES to Made in the USA! If you would like to learn more about Grace Graffiti, purchase some of her products, whether retail or wholesale, check out the website and social media.