Today’s #welldesignedlife series is a little different from what you’re used to seeing around here. We’ve got a special double interview with the lovely ladies from With Grace and Gold! I met Andra and Kelly back in April at the Go Blog Social conference where they were speaking and knew they would be the perfect addition to our series! These gals are sweet as can be and strive to encourage other entrepreneurs along the way.
Let’s start off with an introduction! Tell us about yourself. Roles you play and what you do.
Kelly: We are Kelly and Andra of With Grace and Gold! With Grace and Gold is a Minneapolis-based branding boutique dedicated to creating purposeful and authentic branding for small businesses. Through a variety of design, styling, and consulting services, we aim to help each Client we serve enter into a season of business ownership that is meaningful, successful, and fun!
I am Co-Founder and Brand Stylist at With Grace and Gold. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master of Arts in Teaching. After beginning my career, I found that my heart was less suited for the corporate world – and more suited for business ownership! Since launching our business, I have found a renewed sense of passion and purpose; I am much more comfortable in my own skin, and I feel so excited to help each Client we serve to feel the same sense of confidence, excitement, and purpose!
Although Andra and I often “overlap” in all that we do for our business, I often manage our Contracts and Invoices, I create each Inspiration Board and Branding Board, and I complete Blog and Website Styling for each Client. I also do my best to oversee our partnerships and collaborations – to make sure we are taking advantage of each opportunity that has come our way!
Andra: I am also a Co-Founder and Brand Designer at With Grace and Gold. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, so my background is heavy in the branding and design portion of our business! After I graduated college, I actually started my first business as a wedding stationery designer. Much to my surprise, I was able to go full-time with it immediately following graduation! Since I have business ownership under my belt, I bring a lot of that experience to our business as well!
My main role with With Grace and Gold is the branding and designing portions, as well as consulting with the small businesses that we work with, in order to give them all the knowledge for success as we can! Being able to see the small businesses that we work with build brands that are authentic and real to them is so fulfilling! I love it!
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life so far?
Kelly: This is a tough question! Although it may seem cheesy, I am proud of my entire journey. I experienced a great deal of hardship growing up – but I managed to put myself through undergraduate and graduate school, have an accomplished career in higher education, and to start a business of my own!
Andra: Being a business owner is by far one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever set out to do! Now that I am doing it? It’s unreal, and I couldn’t be more proud. While I was full-time already with my wedding stationery business, Kelly and I worked super hard to make With Grace and Gold full-time for the both of us, since it’s where our hearts were so fulfilled! When we were able to accomplish that within months of launching, we were absolutely floored, and so proud of our journey!
Tell us about your big dreams. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do, and why?
Kelly: My dream is to continue serving people in any and every way. I am learning that life is all about serving people, leaving behind something meaningful and lasting, and lifting people up. My dream is to continue owning and running a business that is so focused on faith and service!
Our business has grown so much, so quickly – and I’d love for us to continue traveling and speaking. There is something so special about watching people have an “aha” moment – when suddenly, they have a better understanding of their business, their brand, and their amazing potential.
Andra: I would love to be able to reach more and more business owners! When you have something to share that you are proud of, and has transformed your life, you are anxious to share it with as many people as possible…that is where With Grace and Gold is at! We have been truly transformed by having an authentic and raw business, so we are anxious to encourage others to do the same! Teaching and serving others are the greatest way to do that, and the greatest reward as well!
What are some struggles you’ve faced in achieving your dreams so far? Have you learned anything from them that you want to share?
Kelly: Wow! I have to tell you, struggle is what has shaped my journey! From growing up in poverty and feeling like every dream was so, so far away, to rising above those who said or hoped I wouldn’t succeed – I have struggled so much along the way! The best advice I have is: You need to believe you can succeed. You need to understand that God has given you a unique purpose – and He is with you always! When you can look back on your journey with peace and understanding – everything will fall into place! I promise!
Andra: My greatest struggle I’ve faced so far has been self-doubt, something that grew from being in a not-so-great relationship in College. However, it has shaped and grown me into a strong woman, that doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer! I’ve learned that each and every experience we go on – good or bad – there is a reason and purpose! While I would have loved to not gone through that, I can promise you that I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if I hadn’t! Truly! We are shaped by our experiences, but each day I overcome self-doubt more and more!
Do your dreams look different now than they used to? (5 years ago? 1 year ago? Yesterday?) If so, what changed about them?
Kelly: I have always wanted to serve people – to serve women in business – but I never understood how I would go about doing so, until we launched our business! Before launching With Grace and Gold, I was a College Career Counselor. So, I suppose every experience has led to this exciting season!
Andra: Absolutely! Like I kind of mentioned before, I never thought (or even wanted!) to be an entrepreneur, but God has brought me on this incredible adventure, and I couldn’t be more thankful! I used to think that Corporate America was ‘normal’ and ‘right’ for me, but I could never have been more wrong!
If you could go back and visit yourself at any age, what would you tell your younger self? What kind of encouragement or wisdom do you wish you had at that time?
Kelly: It is so bittersweet to reflect – and I typically try not to reflect! However, I would tell my younger self to stay strong and to keep going! I would tell my younger self to love and feel proud of who I am – that not everyone would be encouraging or understanding. I would tell myself to stay focused on what is most valuable to me – and to let everything else go!
Andra: I wish that I could tell myself what I believe now – that being authentic and real is the best, and that the right people will love and encourage you for it! My younger self was passive and unsure, but now I know who I am, and have the right people in my life to encourage me to be me!
What three daily things can you not live without?
Kelly: I can’t live without: (1) Saying a prayer and thanking God for everything, (2) My husband – who is my best friend, my inspiration, and the one who has constantly reminded me to love myself as much as I love other people! (3) Friendship and Caribou Coffee… They typically go together anyway!
Andra: Can I just give a big ol’ ‘DITTO!’ to Kelly? Prayer, my husband, and friendship…
What is something you strive to be intentional about? How do you design it into your life?
Kelly: Something I strive to be intentional about is giving myself grace. I have always been very career-oriented, and I definitely need to remind myself to step away from work and do something fun – something just for me. I actually write down what I need to do in my Day Designer – even if it is something small like a trip to Target!
Andra: I strive to be intentional with my time with others. As an entrepreneur, business can easily take over your life…there is always something else to do, and one more thing to be worked on. For me, I know that my family and friends are fuel for my life, so I need to spend intentional and quality time with them! I make sure to set time on my calendar with my husband, family, and friends. When I am with them, I do my best to stay off my phone and away from my email!
How do you create balance in your life?
Kelly: I write everything down! I have reached that period in my life when – if it’s not written down, it doesn’t happen! I do my best to have a distinct line drawn between work and non-work – although, when you love your work, it can be tricky to do! I do love to make tea, and I’m taking a photography class, too! So, I try to sprinkle in balance as often as I can!
Andra: Lists, lists, and more lists! I am dependent on my lists, but they allow me to get the work that needs to be done, done. This gives me permission and time to breathe, and spend time doing the things that I love! Like I mentioned earlier as well, I schedule purposeful time to have balance in my lifewith family and friends!
What does your daily routine look like? Is there anything that helps you feel most successful at the end of the day?
Kelly: At With Grace and Gold, we start each day with a Strategy Call! We talk about each Client we’re working with, each project in need of our attention… and we tell a funny story or two, because we love friendship! I use my Day Designer to keep track of what I need to accomplish – using the left column to give myself a time frame for completing each project, and using the right column as a checklist for each Client or project. I feel most successful when I’ve crossed out a project or two – and when I’ve done something outside of my creative comfort zone!
Andra: I never thought I would say this, but I like to start my day early! Starting my morning with some ‘me’ time gives me the balance that I need. Then, like Kelly mentioned, we have a strategy call to each other, and get the work day started! We always chat throughout the day too, so that we can keep on track and share our thoughts!
What checklist(s) do you live by?
Kelly: I have a With Grace and Gold checklist, a Kelly Zugay checklist, and a Personal checklist. Like I mentioned, if it’s not written down – it doesn’t happen!
Andra: Similar to Kelly, I have a With Grace and Gold checklist, an Andra Delores Design checklist for my wedding stationery business, and a Home checklist – which includes things I need to do around the house and personally!
What do you wish you had more of in life? What about it makes it so special?
Kelly: I wish I had more time with my husband during each week. He is a College Business Instructor, and he is busy as can be! While we’re both working throughout each day, he is lesson planning in the evening. I am sure we have a schedule similar to most couples – but if I could have more of anything, it would be more time with my husband! After nearly seven years, he makes me laugh harder than anyone else; he is my best friend!
Andra: Time! Like so many other business owners, I often wish time would just pause so that I could catch up! Since owning a business, I’ve learned that time is so, so precious. While working is important, spending quality time with the people you love is fulfilling and crucial to success – personally and professionally! If there was more time, I could do it all! Since we all have 24 hours in the day though, I try my best to make the most of it by living intentionally and with purpose!
What do you wish you had less of in life?
Kelly: I wish I had less focus on what other people are doing. Lately, Andra and I have been so busy in our business that I have been much better at staying away from negativity. However, I have been that person who has felt a tiny sting when people I know and love unfollow or unlike me on social media – as silly as it may seem!
Andra: Doubt. While I wouldn’t consider myself a negative or anxious person, there are times when I can doubt that things will work out! God has brought me to this amazing place, yet I can still find myself doubting that everything will work out! It can be daunting, but by surrounding myself with the right people, I’m always reminded that doubting just isn’t worth my time! Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉
Are you willing to share a story with us about a time in your life when things felt out of control? How did you get back on course?
Kelly: Definitely! In December 2013, just a few months after my husband and I had gotten married and I had finished my Masters Degree, my husband and I relocated. Life was so busy and so chaotic that I hardly had time to digest everything! Back then, I felt that my identity was in my career. When I left my career behind and moved away, I felt very out of control: What was I going to do? Who was I supposed to be without my job? I got back on course by doing some serious soul-searching and starting a business I truly believe in – a business that has allowed me to design a life I truly love! I have since learned that my identity is so, so much more than what I do for a living! Since pursuing what I am passionate about – serving people, fashion, design, photography – everything has fallen into place!
Andra: Absolutely. To get personal, I felt most out of control when I was in college and dating someone that was just wrong for me. I was insecure, passive, and unsure of myself and what I wanted. However, like I mentioned before, God always has a way of taking ugly things and making them so beautiful! By getting out of that relationship, I was truly able to discover what was authentically me. I was able to start 2 business, marry the most supportive and encouraging man ever, and be myself along the entire way – sometimes to a fault!
Do you have a life motto?
Kelly: I love, love, love the song “It is Well With My Soul.” The story behind this song is very sad, but in life, we’ll experience so many changes and challenges – and this song is encouragement to have peace no matter what is happening around us.
Andra: I don’t necessarily have a life motto, but lately, I’ve been exploring trust a lot more. Trusting in God, trusting in others, and trusting in myself. All things are possible with God, and I am taking intentional time to remember that lately!
If you could share one thing with our readers, what would it be?
Kelly: One tip I have is: Be kind to people, and do as much as you can to lift people up! Only good can come from loving other people and encouraging people along the way!
Andra: One thing? This is hard! I would encourage readers to take some real time to explore what is authentic and real to them. The right people will love you because of it! This is true for everyone – students, adults, moms, and business owners.