Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with David and Jason Annecy, Owners of Gay Fad Studios, located in Lancaster, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sixty years after its closing in 1962, my husband Jason and I revived Gay Fad Studios in Lancaster, Ohio, as a retail destination.
Our business is multifaceted and focused on:
- Reviving the amazing legacy of Fran Taylor, who founded this glassware decorating company in 1939. Fran broke the glass ceiling by becoming one of the very few women CEOs in the country at that time and blazed her own path in the glassware industry. Known as the "Glassware Rebel," Fran turned her $30 investment into a multi-million-dollar business in the 1950s, where her products were sold nationally in the US and internationally in the European market. Not only do we share her story in person and via social media, but we are curating a vast collection of original Gay Fad designs from 1939-1962 and creating a vintage gallery in our retail space. Our hope is to create an elevated experience for those interested in learning about her amazing story and glassware designs. And considering there are over 1,000 unique designs, we have our work cut out for us.
- Our retail store, located at 137 W. Main Street in Lancaster, OH, is our primary business, where we sell newly designed and produced mid-century modern barware, glassware, and one-of-a-kind gifts. My husband Jason is an artist and designer who is now creating new and exclusive Gay Fad designs. We also procure items from US and European glassware producers to complete our overall collection. When Fran's daughter Stephanie gave us permission to reopen her mother's company, we made a promise to honor Fran's legacy by never recreating an original design. As an artist, Fran believed that creative self-expression and individual talent should be valued over mass production, as the latter removes the inherited variability and creativity that comes from each of our own lived experiences. Following her same ethos, we are using Gay Fad as a platform to lift the voice of other artists in our community by providing opportunities for them to contribute to new designs and collections of glassware. Think of it as a decentralized studio. Decorated glass offers a unique and utilitarian medium. Used in our everyday lives, we form significant memories around people, places, and events.
- Our final focus is on giving back to our local community. Lancaster has become home, and the people in this community have become our friends and chosen family. We have received so much support over the years that we are now excited to be in a position to give back and support other businesses and non-profits in town. We do this through "Taylor Made," a premier series of custom cocktail parties and events hosted throughout downtown. Our customers include anyone who has a love for midcentury modern design and glassware in general and enjoys entertaining. Many people purchase our glassware as gifts for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. We also have home bar enthusiast who are looking for something special to add to their collection
Tell us about yourself
For the last five years or so, Jason and I have had another business called The Art and Craftsman company. In our spare time on evenings and weekends, we've produced large-scale murals and art installations around town for small businesses and non-profits. We were finishing up a large veteran's mural in the Fall of 2020 when Jason was asked to come up with a few concepts for another mural in the heart of our downtown. The Gay Fad design was unanimously chosen for the project, and we spent four months in the Summer/Fall of 2021 with a team of volunteers to complete two large murals.
It was through this process we met Fran Taylor's daughter Stephanie and learned so much about Fran and this company. We were inspired by Fran and the excitement that came from the community in discovering this piece of our local history that we asked Stephanie for her blessing this year to reopen the company. And she said yes! It felt like the sun, moon, and stars aligned to make it all possible. We moved into this retail space in April and spent about three months renovating the interior before our grand opening on July 22nd.
Being able to revive this piece of our local history and share Fran's legacy has brought so much happiness and joy into our lives. We feel a greater sense of purpose knowing that we are doing and achieving great things, not only for ourselves but our community as a whole, and that's what motivates us. We are looking forward to all the other new and exciting opportunities yet to come.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It would have to be successfully reviving this historical company and ensuring generations to come will learn about Frant Taylor and Gay Fad Studios.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for us so far has been patience. We have grand visions and ideas, but it takes time and a lot of effort to see those ideas become a reality.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your "why."
- Research and ask lots of questions so you can make informed decisions.
- Network and build relationships within your community and industry.
And last but not least, hustle.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.