Episode 261

Planning a Successful Rebrand with Gabrielle Blades

June 22, 2021

What is a rebrand? When is it time for rebranding and company change? How can your business launch a rebrand that lasts? Figuring out a rebrand strategy is essential, but so is the meaning behind it. In this episode, Emily talks with Gabrielle Blades from Blades Creative, discussing how to rebrand a creative business. Gabrielle (aka Gabby) shares her journey and tells us about her fun rebrand announcement process. She offers insight on how including her true personality in her brand helped her land more dream clients and maintain a more authentic brand.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Being open and honest about who I am—and knowing my boundaries—allows me to attract the types of clients who are the same way."
- Gabrielle Blades

Discussed in this Episode

  • How Gabby and Emily met
  • Gabby's entrepreneurial journey from design research to design contractor to realizing she had something special as a business
  • Adding your own meaning when creating a brand and all the elements
  • Changes in business and life that lead to rebranding
  • Gabby's story of the rebranding process and the clear signs she saw that let her know it was time to refresh her passions
  • Gabby's realization that she couldn’t do everything on her own and the hiring process in a small business
  • Her elaborate and fun virtual launch party and how it created a sense of community
  • The importance of celebrating yourself and putting yourself first in rebranding your business
  • Being able to say no to prioritize projects and clients that align better


More from Gabrielle Blades

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson: [00:00:00] We've spent years talking about branding, but what about rebranding? What about that moment? When you want to further a home in or pivot or otherwise update the brand that your business presents to the world? That's not something we've talked much about, but today that's where we're diving in. Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creative business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms.

[00:00:36] I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And I recently got the opportunity to watch a boss friend of mine do some seriously amazing work. As she noted, it was time to get clear in her business' positioning and stage her own brand glow up. She did such a stellar job at it that I wanted to share her process with all of you.

[00:00:56] Why? Because businesses grow your dream customer shifts your preferences for what you do changes. And sometimes you need to upgrade the look and feel the mission and positioning of your company to more accurately reflect what you now want to be known for. Gabrielle bleeds or Gabby. As I call her, started her career in design, working with the city of Chattanooga, doing research design for a multimodal transportation study.

[00:01:25] During her time with the city, she worked with a nonprofit that supported local entrepreneurs, finding that she loved the work and some of the first and most fulfilling brands she created or for those wonderful humans in their businesses. Recognizing what branding and design unlocked for them. She also realized that with her own business name and the project she had taken on, she was in the same position as them, prime to start her own business. In 2015, Blades Creative Design Studio launched today, the business is small, but mighty and serves as an advocate and designer for creative lifestyle, wellness brands, bringing their purpose and potential out into the world.

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[00:03:14] Welcome Gabby to Being Boss. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:03:16] Thank you, Emily. It's so good to be here. 

Emily Thompson: [00:03:20] I love that you're being kind of chill about it now.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:03:22] Well, I'm here now, but yes, I'm very excited. I'm very excited, but yeah, I'm trying, I'm trying to play it cool. It's fine. Everything's fine. 

Emily Thompson: [00:03:31] Good, good. I will not, I will not spill anything.

[00:03:36] I would love it. Just sort of paint a picture first of how we met.  Which could be kind of fine because Gabby and I are both in Chattanooga. We are like IRL friends, which is fun and cool.  But you stalked me for a little, I'm totally just going to put 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:03:53] it that way. 

Emily Thompson: [00:03:55] I never felt it was actually still conditions.

[00:03:57] Me being a buyer. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:03:59] No, I didn't stop you, but I definitely, it was like a fan girl for sure. Uh, I, oh, it wasn't. No, it wasn't bad at all. No, I wasn't creepy. I just like was a huge fan of the podcast and I was I'm 29 now almost 30, very excited. And I started listening to the podcast when I was 24. And like, I think it was even before I started the business, but, I was taking on clients and I was listening to you and Kathleen, while I was standing at my dresser, like didn't even have a desk.

[00:04:28] And I just became a really big fan. I felt like it was information was really valuable and you weren't too businessy, but you also gave great information. And so I became a fan and I just like kept up with what y'all were doing. And when you put the book out, I, you had a reading or, you know, a showing, I don't know what you'd call it in Atlanta and you know, that super close for me.

[00:04:53] So I went and got to meet you and I got to see you talk in person. And it was just cool. It was really cool [00:05:00] to like put a real person to all the voices that I had been listening to. And I actually made a friend that night that I'm still friends with. Her name is Claire, which I think is really crazy.

[00:05:10] That was a long time ago. 

Emily Thompson: [00:05:13] Little magic moment. I love it. So was this before or after, was this the first time we met her or was this. Before, or after we met at AIGA meetup or something, 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:05:24] that when I met you for the first time at your event, that's being boss book event. And then I think I met you later, John Murray event.

[00:05:33] Yeah. I met you later on somewhere else in Chattanooga, because I think we met up eventually in Chattanooga to have tea or something. I don't know. We've had like a few different times where we've met, whether it's at events or whatever, but I know that you did come to the AIGA event that I put on and did you speak at it or did I ask you to speak at it? 

Emily Thompson: [00:05:57] No, I think you asked me to like a future one and then, and then that happens. Nothing happens, but like, that didn't happen. I guess. I, so what I wanted to point out though, I'm sure you remember this too. The moment I realized that you were someone I needed to know.

[00:06:13] Involve some New Orleans magic. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:06:15] Yes. Oh my God. I remember now that was another thing. 

Emily Thompson: [00:06:19] Yeah. So a couple months after, after the book, a book tour thing in Atlanta, which was put on by my friends, Tasha and Kate, we were in New Orleans for the Being Boss vacation. So it was, I don't know, six months later or something.

[00:06:37] We were in town for the vacation and Kathleen and I were having coffee with our fresh books friends one morning. And we're sitting in light and cafe vignette this like cute little cafe in new Orleans. And Gabby comes running in. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:06:53] This is a great moment. 

Emily Thompson: [00:06:55] Right. And came over and was like, Hey, you know, it's me [00:07:00] Gabby.

[00:07:00] You were in town for another event. And we're just walking by the cafe 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:07:04] I was going for a ghost tour that morning. And I knew were in town. I was not stalking you. I literally just ran, like my ghost tour met outside of cafe vignette. That was our location to me, that, and I looked inside and I was like, oh my God, it's Emily and Kathleen.

[00:07:20] And so I like snuck up to you guys. And I was like, hi, it's me Gabby. Like, Kathleen, you definitely don't know me, but I met Emily the other like a few months ago. And. It was cute. 

Emily Thompson: [00:07:31] It was great. It was great for me. Like those New Orleans magic moments are moments that you don't brush aside. You like you take note for sure.

[00:07:41] And it also really loved it. Cause we were there with our fresh books people and just to like, have someone like run up and say they know me, but like aren't,  like at the event that we're doing was also like good clout moment for me that I so appreciated. It's so true. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:07:57] I loved it. I loved it's super random, but it'll always be a fun moment.

Emily Thompson: [00:08:02] All that to say staying connected to bosses is, is very important to me. I love whenever we get to just like meet up synchronistically like that. And since then we have become friends. We you've been a quarantine buddy. Right porch sit. You, I had my first margarita in a long time with you recently, so in public marker in public, in public, for sure.

[00:08:31] So, so anyway, Gabby, everyone, I agree. Exciting 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:08:36] What an intro. I like it. 

Emily Thompson: [00:08:40] And to get you onboarded, I guess, fully, I would love for you to share your entrepreneurial story. Cause I don't even think I really know all of this, so I'm very excited to hear this.  How did you get to where you are today and what do you do?

Gabrielle Blades: [00:08:57] So I feel like people are always really impressed by someone who owns a business and usually the story is, well, I had to, I had to make it happen and I don't think people usually expect that who don't own businesses. And I feel like my story is very much that way. So like I graduated from GC here locally in Chattanooga,  in 2013 and I got a part-time city job right out of school.

[00:09:24] It was a super weird job. And I was basically doing a bunch of design research and creating maps of the city and seeing where the gaps were. And since it was part-time and short term, I had a lot of extra time.  And so after taking like a nice break after school, I eventually started picking up more and more work with whoever, because I was doing so many as incent down that people started to know me as somebody who did design work.

[00:09:53] And so people were passing along projects to me and I eventually took on another part-time contract with this organization called Launch. And they help entrepreneurs. They help underserved entrepreneurs build businesses and educate them on how to run their businesses. And I became the designer for their in-house stuff and for their entrepreneurs.

[00:10:17] So I was creating logos for them. It was really good practice for me and like a safe space and,  that was contracted work. So I was doing that plus my city job and picking up other projects. And I didn't really realize I was kind of building a business until I was sitting in the Launch class listening.

[00:10:37] And I was like, I do this already. Like, this is, this is interesting. Maybe I should like continue to like build on it. So a few months passed maybe even a year. So my city job was very short. It was like maybe a year and a half, but it felt like three years. It was. Miserable for me, unfortunately, I'm so sorry.

[00:10:56] But it allowed me to meet so many people learn how to act in public as an adult, learn how to meetings, learn how to network. Like it has so many benefits to it, along with it allowing me so much extra time.  And so by one year into that contract, I went ahead and got my business license because I knew that my job was going to end very shortly after, like within like the next six months after that.

[00:11:25] So on my birthday, I think it was my 24th birthday, July 16th. I got my sole proprietorship for blades creative. And at that time I did not know what was going to happen with that. It was kind of just like a safety net for me. So if I were, if I ended up making more money in like the taxes sense that I was protected,  which like good for me for being young and doing that.

[00:11:49] I guess the launch class taught me that.  So thanks to them too, but even then, I didn't really commit to the business until about a year later, I would say so in 20, like July, 2015, got my license that December, I created my logo, my own logo. It took me a really long time until like my city job was done and with creating my logo in that time, first off, I had not created that many brands.

[00:12:19] Like I didn't have a ton of experience in branding,  besides what the Launch entrepreneurs. And so I just created this logo for myself, chose a color scheme. It was like, okay, I think I'm real now. Like I think this is it. I can start promoting myself. I made an Instagram, I posted my logo. And even after that, like I did like trade shows, I guess that's what you would call them.

[00:12:42] And I was getting clients and I was working full time for myself, but I was still applying for jobs. And there was a moment when a company in the town wanted to hire me and they were like, what would it take for you to work with us? And I was like, I don't know, like a lot of flexibility and some benefits.

[00:12:56] And I don't know, I feel really good about what I'm doing right now. And it turned out nobody got the job. Like they ended up not hiring anybody. And after that I realized like, oh, I like really love what I'm doing. And I'm working full time for myself at my dresser or listening to Being Boss. Like that was that moment where I was like, oh my God, I think I own a business.

[00:13:19] This is really cool. So I started to commit more at that point and, you know, really consider what my numbers were and see how I like tracked my time ever since I started with the city. So like that has been happening since before blades creative. So I was able to look at how long projects were taking me.

[00:13:38] And I could estimate projects for people and quotes for people really easily. And by fall of 2016, which was like a year and a half later, I, oh, I got an, I got an office at the incubator, so that's kind of my like, come to come to Jesus moment, but like come to [00:14:00] entrepreneurship moment of like, oh, I'm doing this.

[00:14:03] Uh, so initially I really just needed work and I needed to pay my bills. And then I had like nothing to lose. I, it was very low risk for me because I had so many, like I had so few expenses that I was able to start a business with, basically nothing, which was really cool. 

Emily Thompson: [00:14:19] I love that you were an accidental entrepreneur.

[00:14:24] And what's so what's so great about this. It's funny. I haven't, we haven't shared stories like this super often at Being Boss, but I think that this is something that's happening more and more as like job markets get weirder and, you know, everyone, these days has a college degree. So like there's more, you know,  sort of competition and job markets, those sorts of things like people aren't choosing entrepreneurship now in the same way that they did even 10 years ago or 20 years ago, or definitely not 50 years ago, it sort of is the only [00:15:00] path or really the best path for a lot of especially creatives to take.

[00:15:05] So I love that, I love that you sort of have that story of someone who like, you were just showing up and doing your work. Doing what you could do to do your work. Oh. And then by the way, I actually also have a business now, which I think is great. It's totally great. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:15:24] And sometimes I still feel that way six years later, like when I did the rebrand this time, I was like, oh shit.

[00:15:29] Like I have a business now. Like I have to rebrand. This is not enough. 

Emily Thompson: [00:15:34] You're legit doing it. And I also want to, like, it took you so long to make your logo. And then we are here to talk about your  rebrand. I also love this idea that as a graphic designer, it is your logo that like is the milestone for your business.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:15:54] It is interesting to think about that. I, uh, I don't think I knew what I [00:16:00] was doing when I started the business in the first place. And when I did my own branding, like I had a process in place for branding, and it's actually not that different today. It's just a little bit more streamlined and probably more detailed.

[00:16:13] But when I created my logo, I didn't know what it was to have an entire brand suite or like a brand voice, or, you know, brand strategy that I've learned over time. And I've learned by working with clients. And now I feel like with this rebrand, I have been able to do that for myself in a more in depth way.

[00:16:33] And I feel like I have more expertise than ever because of that. And it was, it was really hard to do it for myself.

Emily Thompson: [00:16:41] It always is. I feel like doing work for ourselves, and I want to talk about that in particular in a moment, but first I'm going to start with this rebrand because you did recently rebrand your business.

[00:16:52] And I would love to hear from you a little bit about that process and maybe not quite processed just yet, but maybe more specifically, why you chose to do a rebrand and what it meant for you as Gabby, but also your business Blades Creative. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:17:11] Yes. So I I'll start with where it started. So my brand started in a place that was really like my lineage.

[00:17:21] So Blades Creative, Blades is my father's name.  And we have native American roots and I really took inspiration from how I do my design work and how native Americans use the land and resources around them. And that's where my first brand came from and everything I do has meaning to it. And I really pride myself in my work on that.

[00:17:44] And my logo was no different and I wanted it to say that. So at first, my, my business was about like passing on something of my families and still love my family. Very grateful for what they've given me. They were also very entrepreneurial.  Several years, five years later. So like fast forward to 2020, like January 2020, I have changed as a person and my business has changed and who I want to work with has changed and my skillset has changed.

[00:18:17] So I think brands can mold and change with who you are as a person, especially when you're a solopreneur, and when you're the person that people are working with directly.  And for me that has very much become the case where people hire me to work with me and to have the work that I create. And I'm very grateful.

[00:18:38] Very flattered by that. But my brand wasn't showing who I actually was.  So like many people, I went through my sudden return

[00:18:50] shifted in my life. So, I went from feeling like I had to be buttoned up all the time and feeling like I had to work all the time.  Like design and business were all that I thought about to realizing like, this is not healthy for me. I need more than just business. And I picked up a lot of, uh, wellness.

[00:19:11] Tactics, not the best way to put that, but such as coping mechanisms, mechanisms, like maybe, maybe pick up a hobby that'll help. So I started doing a lot of weird stuff, like fitness  challenges and like different, weird diets. And not because I wasn't happy with my body, but I like needed more energy. I like, I wanted to be there for myself and sustain myself more.

[00:19:34] And so I was learning how to meditate. And then I picked up Ashtanga yoga, which has been a life-changer for me.  And I had done yoga for several years, but ashtanga just changed my lifestyle completely. And that's when I started to learn about Ayurveda and Hilary from wildlife teashop was a huge part of this for me.

[00:19:51] And she has taught me so much and it has allowed me to be there for myself and sustain my business better and sustain my life and my relationships better. And, Yeah, just generally learning more about the metaphysical has been a huge part of my life. And so that started to imprint on my business and how I was running my business and like learning through Being Boss too, like it's okay to pull a tarot card on occasion and like, learn about like where you might be in your brain.

[00:20:20] Like, how can you use this as a tool?  And like taking moments to meditate throughout the Workday in order to like, come back to yourself instead of like, get frustrated or get really, really exhausted and your mind.  So those were certain things that I found really important to share with my clients.

[00:20:37] I, I, by last year I was finding that those were the clients I really enjoyed working with were the ones that were in wellness and who were creative entrepreneurs and who had lifestyle brands. And those are the three people that are now my audience. And that's why I had to rebrand was because I shifted.

[00:20:59] And so Blades Creative shifted. And now that I feel like I have a really solid idea of who I am as a person, as a grown woman.  I feel like my business can reflect that as well at this point. And so that's why I ended up deciding to rebrand. And it was it's very, since I'm very sentimental in general,  it was very sentimental to me to do the rebrand and make a big deal about it because it was a huge celebration.

[00:21:26] And like me becoming my adult self and me being really proud of who I've become and the choices I've made to grow and be better personally and professionally. 

Emily Thompson: [00:21:41] I love that you expanded who you are, but in some ways got narrow in your business, right? Like how that sort of informed actually a narrowing.

[00:21:54] So I find that fascinating. That's just a note.  I'm also wondering though, you gave us a really great picture of you personally and your business, but how has this changed or what maybe did you feel you needed to change in your relationship to the business and how has that come to fruition? If at all?

Gabrielle Blades: [00:22:18] I think I understand your question. It is something I do to talk about. I think you're asking it, like, why did I feel the need? Like, how did the change in me affect why the business change? And like, how does that relate to each other? Okay. So, because people are working directly with me, I find it really important that they know who I am and how it relates to the business.

[00:22:40] And so when 2020 came around before the pandemic, I found it really important that I was my most authentic self everywhere. I'm really hoping I'm answering or answering your question for sure.  Because, like I said before, I felt like I didn't, I don't think I felt experienced enough to just lay it all out there.

[00:23:01] And so by that time I felt like I had enough work under my belt. I had more experience in the business side of things. I understood more of like the kind of work I wanted to take on in order to just take the walls down and say, this is me Gabby. I own Blades Creative.  I like to light candles and set intentions.

[00:23:25] It's very important for me to incorporate the personal side of me in my business, because I want to, I want to be friends with the people I'm working with. I want to create a community based, and I'm not saying I want to create a community. That seems like a lot of work, but like, I don't want to build a community of women and people who want to build businesses who don't feel like they can.

[00:23:49] And I want to show them that they can do it and like, love the things they love too. And that it's okay to mold those two things together.  I, it is kind of like contradictory because I really respect work-life balance. Even though that, you know, they say that doesn't exist, but because I'm incorporating where of my

[00:24:14] personal passions like yoga and meditation and using intuition in my business. It's creating more word balance for me. And it helps people understand like the way that I work a little bit better. Like, no, I'm not going to email you at 8:00 PM.  No, I'm not gonna answer your phone call on a Saturday morning.

[00:24:34] I'm in yoga, like, sorry.  Or I might be watching Netflix, like I'm a Netflix watcher, but like I think being open and honest about who I am as a person and my boundaries allows me to attract the clients I want to work with because they're probably going to want to work the same way. I, your question at all. 

Emily Thompson: [00:24:56] For sure. For sure. I had several little nuggets that I wrote down as you were talking. One of them being this idea that with the experience that you've gained over the past couple of years, You sort of needed this opportunity to claim or to like put your stake in the ground. Right. Of like gaining the experiences, figuring out who you are.

[00:25:24] And what's important to you as someone who has a very personal business, it was time for you to just have your business reflect that and like a major milestone. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:25:38] Yeah. 

Emily Thompson: [00:25:39] Correct? 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:25:39] Yes. 

Emily Thompson: [00:25:41] Love that. And there's also this sort of flip side of it, where you are also now embodying the mission that you hold for, how you do, not, how you work with clients, but the clients that you work with, which I also think is a very boss move.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:25:59] Thank you. Thank you. It took. It'll we'll get to that in the process for it, but it took a lot of work. 

Emily Thompson: [00:26:07] Right. I love it. Thank you for insight into all of those little nuggets. My, my mind is going to be turning around those four, I think probably the next couple of hours. And they will say too, though, watching this happen, you did it.

[00:26:22] Like I see it. I see what you've done. You have, you have taken the sort of purpose and mission and,  and expertise and you have translated it into me. I think you were positioning this as like your glow up, right? Your business glow up.  You did it just high five. I did it. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:26:43] Thank you. I can't even believe it.

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[00:28:22] I do want to talk about the process of this because so many, so many people, so many bosses, actually I know some bosses who like rebrand, like it's Christmas, like every Christmas or whatever yearly annually they rebranding. I do want to point out that you had your previous brain in place for five years were like.

[00:28:44] They are doing that. They also Being Boss hasn't had a rebrand in five years. Like we have like a good brand stays. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:28:53] Yeah, it does. 

Emily Thompson: [00:28:54] And then there comes this time for a pivot. And for you, you, you made this like a [00:29:00] really big moment in your business. So I would love to hear what this looked like for you.

[00:29:05] When did you think it was time to do this? What, how did you show up to do it? What was the actual law? Like? Just take us. All the way through we got all day.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:29:16] Do you? I can talk about it all day. I'll tell you the first moment I knew I needed to rebrand was when I was starting to help sponsor things in 2019, and people were coming back and saying, we can't read your logo.

[00:29:34] The letters were too thin. The, it just wasn't translating well. And I was like, damn it. Like I'm supposed to have a great readable, visible logo. So like just visually, that was like number one. Yeah. Yeah. Super practical. But like, literally that's like, if you don't have a readable and a visible logo, like get a rebrand, please.

[00:30:00] Not good. So. And when 2020 came around, again, all those things were happening. I did have an assistant at the time, and I was verbalizing that I wanted to start incorporating more of myself in our social media and our texts, how we spoke.  And it was really a hard balance to find, especially like I respect her completely, but it was hard to do that when she had been with me for two years.

[00:30:24] And I don't think we saw eye to eye on like the shift that was hap that I wanted to happen. And so due to COVID. You know, I let her go around May 2020, and then over that summer, it was a really great opportunity for me to really consider what I wanted Blades Creative to be. I didn't have to talk to anybody about it, which sounds silly.

[00:30:46] It was, you know, I just had an assistant, but she was, we were ingrained in the business together. We worked very closely together. So I felt freedom after that. Like two years is a long time to work with somebody.  Especially because we had so many milestones during that time.  So that summer, I really took the time to like, understand what kind of work I was enjoying doing.

[00:31:09] And fast forward to July my birthday again. It was my, fifth year anniversary with the business. And I took a week off of work. I had been working a pretty good amount, but with like very specific clients that were able to continue working with me through the pandemic, very grateful for that.  But when I took time off, I think a lot came up for me in the sense of what I was getting really bored with.

[00:31:31] I felt super stagnant in the business. I didn't know what to do. Like who doesn't feel stagnant during a time when you can't really go do anything. And like, that was the midst of the pandemic. Like  how is this going to grow? What's my next step.  And so on my birthday, I bought myself a, uh, A psychic reading, not a psychic reading, but like a healing session with one of my favorite psychic healers.

[00:31:54] She was my first psychic healer. My mom accidentally sent me to her. She's a masseuse. And I think my mom regrets that now I'm like really woo. And Jenny was, Jenny was my psychic healing masseuse and she like caught me at a really vulnerable time. And I like love what she did for me. She opened these doors for me.

[00:32:14] And so I had a healing session with her over the phone because she's not in Chattanooga anymore. And COVID, but,  I was talking to her about, you know, I don't know what I'm doing right now with the business. I don't know how it's going to grow. I don't know what I want to do. And she was like, well, really think about your passions.

[00:32:31] Like, what do you actually like to do outside of design? And like, how can you start moving toward that? Like, are there small steps to start moving toward that instead? And she was like, I'm not saying give up design, like, you need that. Like, this is something that you're doing and you've grown. Don't give that up.

[00:32:48] Yeah. Like at least have it there to sustain you.  And she did her healing stuff and blah, blah, blah, but a week had passed and I in my brain was like, I'm going to give up Blades Creative. I'm done with this. I'm burnt out done. And then by the end of my vacation week, I was like, I don't have to do that.

[00:33:08] That's crazy. I love what I do. I love designing. I love working with the bitter bottle and creating packaging labels and like learning about tinctures and herbs and all that fun stuff. And so I had decided, you know, what any more clients I take on from here on out are going to be with people I really, really am passionate about. And so I set that intention and that it was,  the day before I went back into work, I think I got a text from you or an email from you.

[00:33:38] And you were saying, Hey, I think I have a project for you if you're interested. And it was the Irby Erie. It was my atoll. And for me in that moment was that was huge for me. And like, you'll find that throughout this journey, that was so millennial of me to say, it's rebrand [00:34:00] journey.  There, I like took a lot from the signs that I was being given and I kept following them and it led me to a really positive place.

[00:34:08] So I took you messaging me and introducing me to Maya as a, like, even if I didn't get that project, I took that as a sign that I was in the right path. Like I was doing the right thing by setting that intention to only work with businesses I was passionate about specifically a wellness. I really put that out there.

[00:34:27] And so that's kind of where the initial thought process came for the actual rebrand of visual rebrand, the copywriting rebrand.  And then it moves into a different phase where I had to start doing the work. Uh, yeah. So, and this is going to be a lot, just prepare you, but 

Emily Thompson: [00:34:46] go for it, go for it. I do, I do want to point out a couple of things here and really just the biggest one of like you just listening, just paying attention and listening and showing up for it.

[00:34:56] Taking time for yourself, all of these things. I think all too often, when people are considering rebrands, it's such like a split sessions, blah, blah, blah. It sets. Oh my God. It is such a split second. I'm going to do that whole little sentence again. I especially think that whenever people are rebranding often it's too much of a split second decision to not say. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:35:21] You did a good job.

Emily Thompson: [00:35:24] Oh my God. Thank you. I'm just going to just keep that one in there. Corey. We're good. So,  and because they're not taking the time that they need to like, really think about what they want their business to be next, where were they want to be next in their business? And that's why like rebrands don't stick, but you literally took months and months of just thinking and listening.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:35:47] I want to emphasize that for other people and for myself too, for when I meet somebody and I know they need a rebrand, I almost always know they're going to need a year and a half ish to come back to me and say, I'm ready. And now I really know because I went through it myself, but there were so many things that go into a rebrand and the thought process itself for me took like nine months, which is crazy.

Emily Thompson: [00:36:10] Yeah. Things take time. Even in the online world where everything moves so fast. Good things take time. Yes. Perfect. Then let's go into the doing, what did that look like? 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:36:22] Okay. So it really started with the book club, with the community for StoryBrand. So I know I don't know his name, but I know he's a Donald, but, uh, yeah, the StoryBrand book I read through it.

[00:36:34] I listened to it. Actually. I listened to it once and then listen to it again and like did the whole framework and filled it out. And it really helped me understand like, okay, this is actually my audience. These are actually the kinds of products I want to be doing, and I need to reframe all of my packages.

[00:36:51] So that's where it really started. It started with me figuring those few things out and then reworking my packages was surprisingly difficult for me. I'm not really sure why.  But it took me understanding that I never want to do to do event collateral again. I didn't want to do one-off projects ever again.

[00:37:10] I only wanted to be focusing on branding and like building people's brands and packaging. And building their packaging suite and then those ongoing services that help those people who have already been through that. I don't, like, I knew that I didn't want to work with people who had shitty brands and then making brochures for them and then constantly telling them they needed a new brand.

[00:37:32] Like those people are not for me.  So it took a lot of like, realizing, like, what am I willing to do? What do I want to do? What do I enjoy doing? And so once I figured that out, I got a little stuck and then I realized, I think I need to hire some people because I couldn't do it all by myself. It was so overwhelming.

[00:37:53] And I also had my client work. So when I hit and I think I actually talked to you at some point where I was like, I don't even know where to begin. Like, I don't know how to start this process.  And then I, I talked, so I went to Denver to see if I wanted to move there back in October. I randomly talked to Latasha from Uncanny Content because she was in the Being Boss community because she lived in Denver.

[00:38:16] I didn't realize that I was actually talking to her, not because she lived in Denver, but because she was my future copywriter. And when I learned what she could do, I couldn't stop thinking about her. And so two months after I talked to her, I emailed her probably late at night because I couldn't sleep.

[00:38:31] I remember specifically not being able to sleep, thinking, how am I going to start this rebrand? How do I make this happen? I need a fire under my ass because I can't do this by myself. I need deadlines. So I talked to Latasha, I hired her. She was the first hire I made to help me with this rebrand. And she helped put the whole voice of blades, created the blades, creative design studio studio that you see today.

[00:38:56] That's all Latasha from Uncanny Content.  And having her really helped me because I had to get certain things done at a specific time I had to have, and then I ended up hiring a web designer who was directly connected with Latasha. Her name is Kristen. She's amazing. But they worked together all the time.

[00:39:15] I loved Latasha's website. She did Latasha's website. And so I was like, fine. I'm hiring Kristin looks great. Y'all work together, super streamlined. So now that I had those two things, I had to get my brand together. And so,  this is my favorite part of the story, actually. 

Emily Thompson: [00:39:33] I can't wait to hear it. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:39:35] I had to start my visual brand and it was the holiday season and I was procrastinating.

[00:39:41] I had a few ideas in my head and then finally, on new year's Eve, I sat down cause nobody was bothering me. Like there was no excuse to not do anything. And I was like, this is a great way to end the year. So I started like my thumbnails and concepting out my new logo and my branding and what I want it wanted it to mean.

[00:39:58] And one of the concepts was based on the magician tarot card, which is all about having those resources at hand and creating what you, you want to create with whatever you are already have that hand, the magic is already within you.  At least that's my view of it. And I've often been told that my work is.

[00:40:18] Like magic. I collect ideas from people. I do research and then I have this really, you know, meaningful piece at the end of the day, or, you know, at the end of six weeks, that helps describe what the business does. And it makes people feel like so empowered in their business. And it really does feel like magic, but I didn't really ever own that because I felt like it was like silly.

[00:40:42] I was like, that's funny, that's cute that you would say I create magic. It's actually my, one of my mentors, Marco used to tell me that and I was like, yeah, whatever.  And so that was one of my concepts. And then later that evening I signed up for Kelly nights, a healing session. I think it was a healing session on New Year's Eve.

[00:41:02] And we were going to do some like numerology stuff with the tarrot to see which, what your numerology was for 2021. And so with my birth chart, with my birthday and the year 2021, my number was one, which is the magician card. And so it even came with the magician mantra and which is something like I create enlist magic for myself and other people.

[00:41:28] I create infinite possibility, something like that. And I like, I was like, whoa, like, Okay, this is a sign. This is the concept I'm going with. No questions asked, I believe in this, like I'm listening. Like I hear you.  And so that's what I ended up going with and I kept the, I feel like I kept the branding pretty simple, but I wanted it to, I wanted it to translate well for a very long time.

[00:41:56] And I did not ever imagine I would have a star in my logo. I probably would have thought that was cheesy a few years ago, but it just made sense. It was like just a little bit of magic that the branding needed.  And if I don't like it later, I can take it out. Um, but, uh, that's, that's the visual brand side of things.

[00:42:17] And that process took forever because I didn't finish it until probably four weeks. And it went fast for me because I knew what I needed. It wasn't like working with a client and having that back and forth, but it took about the first month of January. And so I needed to have everything done for the photographer.

[00:42:34] By February, hired the photographer had to get stuff printed for the photography session. That was the photo session was the most stressful part of the process, but also the most fun.  Do I need to talk more about the visual branding part? Because I feel like I just like blacked out. 

Emily Thompson: [00:42:53] You were a flowing man.

[00:42:54] You were totally flowing. I love it. No, I think it was some key elements here is you hired, right? So you hired out the things that you couldn't do and you like went all in new copy, new website, new photography, new visual brain. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:43:09] Like I hired a marketing person. 

Emily Thompson: [00:43:12] Like your situation hosted you like really invested in this milestone in your business.

[00:43:18] I would like to move into the launch. So back whenever and doing websites and branding back in the day, I would always have clients who would be like, you know, we'd schedule a launch day. Like it'll be ready here, ready for you to announce the world. And it'd be like, you know, what do I need to do? And hooping out would always say is your launch is only ever going to be as big of a deal as you make it.

[00:43:40] Right. Like you can, you can slide under the radar and launch that new brand, like launch, have a new logo, new website, holding, not tell anyone about it and just be there. Right. Not a big deal. Like it's live it's good. Or you can like blow it off the water anywhere in between. You were like far end of the blow out of the water, [00:44:00] which I very much so appreciated.

[00:44:02] You made it a big deal. So I would love to hear about this, like about the relaunch event. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:44:12] Oh my God. It was so fun. Oh, it was good. Okay. So first off, I totally think everybody should do this. It's a huge investment. Why are you not, if you're investing in a new website and a new brand, why are you not blowing out, like blowing it out of the water?

[00:44:25] I don't get that like very celebratory celebrate my fifth anniversary. And that kind of made me sad. So I was like, I'm doing it big. I don't care.  So how did I end up there? Okay. So. I knew I wanted a party. I knew I wanted a virtual party it's during COVID. So like, this is probably one of the only opportunities that it's kind of acceptable to invite people from all over the country, even the world and have this party celebrating your business.

[00:44:55] And so I decided to take advantage of that. I also knew I wanted a printed invitation, so in my work, it is very important for me to showcase like what paper can do. And I believe in environmental friendliness, of course, but also, paper products can say so much about like how much you care about what you want to say to somebody. 

Emily Thompson: [00:45:21] And the hand movement. You're, you're missing them. You're missing them. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:45:24] You're missing out,  like a business card. Like, I, it depends on what business you're in, but like a paper product can really say a lot. And for me, the invitations were vital to be like, as beautiful as I could possibly make them within a short amount of time.

[00:45:40] So I had very beautiful photography to work with, which I was super excited about. Thank you. You Sarah Unger. Um, and then I. Have a great print shop here in Chattanooga who supports me and orders the paper that I want to order. And they'll do weird stuff with me, like use white ink and gold ink and like get confetti paper and experiment with how it folds.

[00:46:03] And so I, I wanted to be able to take advantage of those resources. Um, and so I didn't really, I'm going to emphasize hiring a marketing person for this part of the process. I hired my friend. Yeah. Not knowing the, a bit like what she could do for me. I knew that she would be able to consult me on like when to post and how to post.

[00:46:25] But like, because she's my friend, I think she went above and like extra above and beyond, and like helping me with the process of like, okay, how's the party like, we're going to plan the party. We're going to plan when the invitations go out, we're going to plan what the party actually is for, what are we doing?

[00:46:40] So we, brainstormed. And I knew I wanted to showcase clients. So I used three different clients that do three different things that I loved working with. One of them was the bitter bottle and she does cocktail classes online. She's very good at it. I knew I wanted to work with the bitter bottle and she does the cocktail classes.

[00:47:00] And then. I have been very lucky to work with lodge manufacturing since I was in college, actually they in, I was an intern, but their first intern actually back in 2014,  and I've contracted with them ever since. So I've become very good friends with Daniel, the lead designer there. I think he's design director now.

[00:47:18] I don't know, but he was so nice to do a cast iron care,  demonstration for me. And then I had another client sent in a video because he's a classical guitarist and I did his branding.  So I had a showcase of a packaging, packaging, design client. I had a logo design client I had and a long-term client that I had, which was really important to me to have that diversity there.

Emily Thompson: [00:47:41] You also did just like food drink and music and a zoom event. Yeah. It's just like, it was like a complete package. It was wonderful. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:47:49] Yeah. I made it a party. Like I wanted people to feel like they were actually gonna sit the whole time and enjoy it and have a good time. And I also wanted them to feel like it was [00:48:00] a networking event for them to where they could like do it up in the chat like we do in Being Boss and, you know, be able to interact with me and interact with everybody else via the video.

[00:48:10] And it was, it turned out exactly how I wanted it to be. And,  but what led up to the party was a lot of planning. So we had like a reverse to do list of, I need to design these invitations by this date, send them to print by this day, put them in the mail by this date. I will say another factor that I thought was genius and Celia came up with this was,  to send out the invitations to a few different audiences.

[00:48:38] Clients I might want to work with. Clients I've already worked with and people that are my cheerleaders and to send them out in specific times so we could start creating traction online. And so that's where the sticker on the invitation came in of let's give people a major FOMO post your reaction to this invitation on Instagram and tag Blades Creative, which was like so cool.

[00:49:02] Like it was, it was super exciting for me on my end, but I like, I was so impressed with how everybody treated it differently. Like we had reels happening, we had photos, we had videos like every like, and everybody's reaction was different to the little gold stars that fell out of the invitation. Like I plan that invitation to have a reaction and to get to see all of the reactions was so special, like above and beyond special.

[00:49:29] It didn't even matter to me if people showed up at the party at that point. Cause I was like, this is making me so happy.  So that was a huge part of it. And then we had to get our RSVPs in at a specific time, which we did via MailChimp via a survey.  We sent out a coupon code for law. So if people wanted to order cast iron, they could get the cast iron.

[00:49:51] Then we put cocktail boxes together with like a postcard that has, it had a custom made recipe by butter bottle on it. That was based on the party. Put that in there, had all the ingredients that were non-perishable in there, mailed them out to all the RSVPs.  And then we did some MailChimp newsletters to keep everybody posted on, like, make sure that you know, where the Zoom link is.

[00:50:16] It's at this time Eastern time, like just constantly reminding people that the party is still happening. Please let us know that you've got your, like, if you haven't gotten your box, really, that was really the bigger issue if they didn't get their box yet.  Make sure to order your cast iron, if you want to do it, like that was like the in-between was.

[00:50:35] So far, like it felt like a party from the time I sent out the invitations to the time the party was over. 

Emily Thompson: [00:50:42] Well, I bet I'm glad that you felt like that was a party. All of it was a party. Cause it sounds like a lot that you were doing, but it was a lot of work. It was amazing. It was amazing. It was one of those things where like, I'm like, I need everyone to [00:51:00] celebrate themselves in this way and to put it in this kind of effort and to pull people together and to be this intentional, all of these things, because it all came through.

[00:51:10] Yeah. It all hit home. I think exactly the way you needed it to 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:51:14] thank you. Thank you. And is the biggest, most difficult thing I have probably ever put together by far. 

Emily Thompson: [00:51:22] Yeah. I also love that you were like, I never want to do event collateral again, but then that's kind of exactly what you did for yourself.

Gabrielle Blades: [00:51:28] I went the whole time I was making those invitations. I was like, God, this is so much work. This is why I don't do this for other people because they don't care as much as I do. Like I'm over there, like looking through 40 different papers and they're like, I literally don't care. Just choose it. And like there's no fun in that.

[00:51:43] And 39 more to consider 39 more to consider. Yeah. Yeah. So it's, it was a lot of work and I don't want to underemphasize how much work went into it, but because the results were so like, they were so helpful filling in like heart-based and like, it was, it was never too, I didn't do the relaunch because. I was expecting a ton of clients to come to me and say like, let's work together, which I really do hope happens and I want to happen, but like, it's really because I love to celebrate.

[00:52:18] And I think it was an important milestone for me to share with other people and my family. Like I made sure to invite my parents and my sister and her boyfriend. Like I went to share those things with other people, and I want to share that they should be doing this for themselves too. 

Emily Thompson: [00:52:34] I love that. Okay.

[00:52:36] You definitely like put yourself first, which is something that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with or this idea of like, you know, cobbler with no shoes, right. That like we will do everyone else's projects amazingly, but whenever it comes to our own, we're not going to have a good website. Our, you know, logos are going to be super proud of day.

[00:52:54] Our copy is going to be crap. Like hopefully, like we're awful at taking care of ourselves in our own businesses, but you really, you made yourself your most important client for months. And so I would love to hear from you how that paid off. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:53:12] Yeah.  I giggle because it has been really hard. It's been a struggle because my work was top priority for a while, because if I didn't get that done, the, the money that I was investing in the website and in the copywriter and the photographer and the marketer, like it wouldn't have been worth anything.

[00:53:33] So at this point I'm actually a little behind on work. I'll be honest. I'm fine to say that. All my clients know I have like added extra cushion in my time, up until end of May to get some stuff done and feel caught up. I'm hiring an intern right now. Like just put that out there.  Hopefully I'll have one by June, but, putting myself first,

[00:54:00] there is good. There are positives and negatives that go to that.  So like, I do think it's really important to put your own branding and like your own voice out there first, but maybe like add some more space in your calendar than I did. Like I think some advice that I have is it's always going to take more time than you think it is, no matter how good you are at your job.

[00:54:23] Like, I am fantastic at what I do. I am very timely. I work really hard. I work enough hours in the day and I thought I'm planned this out perfectly. And I was super wrong. Like I was super wrong to how much time it would take. And it has been a huge challenge. So I just have to be realistic about that.

Emily Thompson: [00:54:49] I appreciate, I appreciate your, um, what, what am I thinking of. Candidness, candidness with that, but also numbers. I heard your social media had quite a bump. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:55:04] Yeah, crazy. So like, I was not getting a lot of interaction from other people.  But throughout the whole process, it went up like 880%. With interactions.

[00:55:16] That was the biggest number I think I saw, but it might've been more throughout the process. So I would look at also like who and where I was connecting with people. So my goal was to connect, connect with more people outside of Chattanooga, as much as I love this city, I would like to be working more nationally.

[00:55:33] So I was getting more audience members in LA, in New York, in Atlanta, in Austin, in Denver, like all the, all the cities that I want to be working in. I was seeing more from those cities because I was sending boxes to those cities and they were sharing it. And,  that meant a lot to me. And so the interactions have definitely gone up there are, there are positives to this for sure, but I definitely, I wanted to put the realistic side of it out there first because there are consequences to, you know, putting

[00:56:05] your client work aside for a second, for three months, for three months, I was like, prioritizing my own work. And luckily I'm a good communicator and I can talk to like talk to my clients about it and they get it and they care and they want to see me grow.  But it was worth it. Like it's totally worth it.

[00:56:22] My website is getting a lot of traction. I feel like, I feel like I'm taking myself and my work more seriously. And I feel like because I took the time to research what I actually wanted to be as Blades Creative and how to meld my knee Gabby into blades creative more because I did the research and because I like wrote all these notes and what I didn't and did want to do, I am so much more clear on how I can talk about leads creative.

[00:56:56] And I'm so much more clear on the work that I provide. So if somebody comes up to [00:57:00] me and they say, Hey, I want a logo within four weeks. Can you do that for me? I'm saying, oh, Sorry, that's not my timeline.  And that's just what it is. Or if somebody comes up to me and they say, Hey, um, we have a Methodist church fair coming up.

[00:57:18] Can you do this for $25? Which is like an extreme case. Like, I'm sorry, I can't do that. That's not my audience. So not to say there's anything wrong with the Methodist church. I'm just like putting examples, just, yeah, just examples. I don't work with nonprofits anymore. Like that was a huge part of what I did for five years.

[00:57:39] And in Chattanooga specifically, like nonprofits came to me to get event collateral done and to get branding done. And I don't work with them anymore. Somebody else can do that. So there are benefits to it because my ability to work on things that, that I love is going to open up and the work itself is going to be better.

[00:58:02] So those are things that haven't like, those are future things that are going to be positive, but I can see the shift happening already. And I can see the people I'm talking to a little bit differently. Like they're coming to me in a different way.  I think people will take what I do more seriously now because I'm able to do that for myself. 

Emily Thompson: [00:58:23] For sure. And I will say, I agree with all of this. I think that quite often people think our rebrand is a silver bullet, right? Like you're going to rebrand your business will finally make total sense to everyone and all the clients are going to come calling that a rebrand, right? It's a seed you're planting. It's a, it's a fresh, new, new idea or new,  new opportunity for people who may be already in your sphere or with you the intention of growing in that sphere.

[00:58:50] And I think those do that takes time to grow into something, but I think you're right. What, the way you are positioning yourself now, you are setting yourself up to be so much. It's all, it'll all be so much more fruitful if we can keep with that little seed metaphor. Yeah. I love it. I have loved watching you do this Gabby.

[00:59:13] It has been a treat and truly, I think a prime example of how and when you should rebrand, it's been great. High five. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:59:26] Thanks. 

Emily Thompson: [00:59:29] I love it. Okay. That where can people find out or find you and all of your new brand goodness. 

Gabrielle Blades: [00:59:39] Yeah. Okay. So first the website, which I'm so in love with is www.bladescreative.com and that's blades with an S at the end, like rollerblades.

[00:59:51] And then my Instagram is @blades_creative, which I highly encourage looking at because the grid that I created for the launch is on there. And it is like my favorite thing that I've probably ever made.  And then my Facebook is Blades Creative Design Studio, and I think that's all you can sign up for my newsletter on my website.

[01:00:14] Or in my Linktree on my Instagram. And we'll be sending out a new newsletter sometime in either may or June. So that's it. 

Emily Thompson: [01:00:23] Perfect. And my last question for you, Gabby, what makes you feel most boss? 

Gabrielle Blades: [01:00:28] I knew you were gonna ask me this question because I'm a long time fan. 

Emily Thompson: [01:00:33] Yep. Yep. True fan here. True fan.

Gabrielle Blades: [01:00:35] Yes. And I,  I actually, I was talking to myself about this while getting ready and there were several, but I think right now in this current time in my business, what makes me feel most boss is being able to hire other professionals and support other professionals that can help me do my job the best that I can.

[01:00:52] Ooh. Amen. Yeah, it feels super boss. 

Emily Thompson: [01:00:57] Love it. Well, thank you so much for coming to hang out [01:01:00] with me Gabby and goodluck. 

Gabrielle Blades: [01:01:01] Thanks Emily. This was awesome. 

Emily Thompson: [01:01:04] Nat, can we go get a cocktail? Yeah.

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