15 Gifted Women: Anna Griffin
November 9, 2009,
Anna Griffin Inc.
With artists on both sides of the family, it was no surprise when Anna Griffin got a degree in Environmental Design from North Carolina University School of Design in 1988. She honed her design skills working at The John Harland Company and Vera Wang before launching her own business creating one-of-a-kind, handmade invitations in the early ’90s.. Griffin got her name out by donating invitations to charity events. In 1996, the business expanded to include a wholesale division and Griffin introduced her first imprintable invitation that enabled consumers to achieve an affordable custom look and an alternative to engraved invitations. In 2001, the company launched Anna Griffin Decorative Papers for scrapbook and paper crafting. The line then expanded to include Social Stationery and Home Office Collections. There are currently more than 1,000 Anna Griffin licensed products by companies such as Lenox, Department 56, C.R. Gibson, Windham Fabrics, Plaid Enterprises, Bucilla, Wallies, Burnes Home Accents, Envelopments and Sterling Publishing. Today, Anna Griffin product is found in more than 3,000 retail stores.
Gifts & Decorative Accessories: What have your biggest challenges been?
Anna Griffin: In my 16 years in this industry, my biggest challenge has been to constantly re-invent the product line while staying consistent with the look and quality of the brand. I think almost anyone can have a great idea for a line of cards, but it takes ten times that idea to make a successful business. Coming up with that next great idea over and over again is the ultimate gift industry challenge.
G&DA: What have been your greatest successes?
AG: It sounds corny to say that my greatest success has been my company. But it’s true. I look back and wish I could say that my greatest success is my children or my charity work, but those things have not been in the cards for me. Pun intended! There have been so many things to celebrate professionally — when my dinnerware pattern was released by Lenox, the first time I ever sold my product on live television, and even when I sign an autograph for a crafting fan, these are all my greatest successes.
G&DA: Do you think that as a woman you approached doing businessdifferently?
AG: Absolutely! I trust my instincts and I have a “make it happen” mentality. Women know how to get things done. I think some businesswomen let their emotions get in the way. But for me, it is what fuels my success. I love what I do, it is a huge part of me and because of that I approach my business whole-heartedly. All of that drives my company!
G&DA: How has being an executive affected your personal life and relationships and how do you deal with it?
AG: I have to admit that I allow being President of Anna Griffin Inc. to be a 24/7 job. Anyone in my life comes into it knowing about my commitment to my company. I find balance by planning things in advance and setting appointments outside the office for 6 p.m. so I get home at a decent hour. It helps that my boyfriend is the CEO of a large company; we have dueling computers going most nights!
G&DA: How and why did you get into business?
AG: I always knew that I would have my own business, it was just part of my family culture. I am a fourth generation entrepreneur! I grew up with a lot of encouragement to dream and make those dreams reality. I loved the wedding business, so I married that with my design education and produced my first line of wedding invitations. The rest is history.
G&DA: What advice would you give to a woman starting out in the business?
AG: I have lots of advice! Be clear about what you want to do. Align your actions to support that vision. Do what you do best and hire others to do the rest. Above all, do it — don’t waste time waiting around or talking about starting someday. That day is today!
G&DA: What is the best — or most memorable — gift you ever received?
AG: The most memorable gift I ever received was from my mother. One Christmas, she gave me individual photographs of my entire family — all the way back to my great grandparents. Each picture was in an antique frame. They were for my first house. I have moved them to ten different houses and they are still memorable everyday.
For more interviews with the 15 Gifted Women, please click on each woman's image at right.
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