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Inspiring Conversations with Gaby Zatarain of Gaby & Grace

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gaby Zatarain.

Hi Gaby, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I believe every business story has its beginnings when the person who started it was a child, with an idea and the world full of possibilities. In our case, that’s how it was.

I am Gaby, I was born and raised in North Mexico and Grace is my Mom, the person who taught me that everything is possible with God’s guidance, hard work and persistence.

I have always loved accessories. When I was 12 years old, I noticed my friends wearing trendy earrings that they bought at the mall. I clearly remember asking my Mom if we could get fashionable earrings too. Despite the fact that our family didn’t have extra money for things like accessories, our generous Mom would never say no. The main grocery store of our small hometown is where we would look for the trendiest earrings within our budget. I still remember the excitement I felt when my mom and my sisters would walk towards the jewelry section within the store. Together we would sit on the floor and patiently dig into the collection of unorganized earrings to find the cutest ones. We paid about a dollar for each pair and I would wear them proudly.

Our Mom always said, “You don’t need the best or most expensive clothes to look good, be confident with what you have and you will always shine.”

At a young age, my dreams were to study law and pursue a career in corporate law. We made a family decision to leave my small hometown to study high school in the capital of Sonora. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins welcomed me and attended a high school that would give me a better chance for a scholarship to attend a Private Law School of my dreams. After graduating from Law School in 2002 and practicing corporate law for 4 years, met the love of my life, an American medical student and we married and moved to the US in 2010.

My husband and I spent 10 years traveling across the country during his medical training and growing our family. I love every bit of being a Mom to my three precious kids. Although it was a blessing taking care of my children, there was something more I wanted them to see from me.

This vision of growing a business was something we wanted our children to feel a part of, the making and pursuit of a dream starting from zero as I call it, “the possible attitude effect.”

Although my business idea was created to generate some passive income, financial reasons were not the primary goal of the creation of Gaby & Grace.

As a family in medical training, we didn’t have much money to invest in a business but one day I woke up and decided to take $100 saved in cash to buy a couple of earrings to sell to friends. There was a small idea of our market from the beginning, and recall hand picking earrings for my friends I thought fit their style. Texts went out to some of the school moms that morning and tossed any doubt aside. We met in the parking lot of our children’s school. I showed up with a plastic box full of hope and earrings, and to my surprise, I sold out! The moms were so happy as they put the earrings on right away. The joy I felt in that moment let me know something was beginning to grow and this was the start of Gaby & Grace.

The passion about the business grew quickly, I would spend hours creating the business idea and reinvested every profit back into it. The goal was to make costumers happy, to grow, to improve the products, and shopping experience for the customers.

I started selling in person, in coffee shops, at reunions, then proceeded to sell at pop up shops, markets and finally opened the online store. We owe family, friends, other business owners and the beautiful Galveston Community immense gratitude for their incredible support and empowerment since day one.

As the business and vision grew, I couldn’t find the exact accessories I wanted to offer my customers. One day, as if sent from heaven, an opportunity presented itself to work directly with incredible, talented artisans from India designing my own collection and creating pieces that we could not find in the market. I was able to create unique earrings that would be an expression of the modern woman, a fun piece that would empower them, no matter their age or background. I am designing for a stay at home mom who wears an accessory and feels beautiful, for a bride-to-be who dreams for the best time with their friends before she gets married, or a teacher who struggles to teach during a pandemic with a mask on and perhaps this accessory will make her sparkle while her smile is covered for safety.

Starting this project has been the best decision we have ever made, it has brought so much growth to our family and to myself. I have learned to be more positive in life, patience pays off, and to push harder than ever imagined. I have met many wonderful people; especially hardworking women of all backgrounds; such as customers and talented entrepreneurs that have inspired along the way.

We strive for a continuous growth in all aspects, hoping we can inspire, empower and bring beauty with our work to many more women.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Running a business has not been easy, there are many challenges that surface while the business continues to grow. The number one challenge has been multitasking and finding balance with family time while running this project. There never seems to be enough time in the day while enjoying raising my three kids, being involved in the community, and my husband’s busy schedule in his medical training.  Many Moms understand this. My family has always been my first priority that is why I wanted to have my own business where I have some kind of flexibility.

Sometimes this includes taking manual orders on the phone while stirring the pot of dinner on the stove, or packing online orders in my car while my kid’s are happily busy at their own afternoon activities.

Nights have been long creating the who, what, where, and how, the never-ending questions of a new business. There is always so much to learn and discover.

Other types of challenges are fear and self-doubt. What if the customer doesn’t like the product, what if it breaks, what if they think it’s too expensive or too cheap, or what if the product doesn’t sell at all, or a social media post doesn’t have enough engagement, etc.

I would never recommend someone to be fearless when starting a business, that is not realistic. I would advise to face those fears, to talk to them as if they were existing enemies and to let them know that your passion, drive and dreams are bigger and stronger than them. Essentially tell fear to get out of your way. I have learned how to trust God and my heart when I need to make important decisions.

The days when it seems like everything goes wrong or like we are swimming against the current, when doors knocked on are closed but we keep persevering led by faith, those are the days where we grow the most and where we step up to the next level. Success is around the corner of pain. Having a business means you will feel pain to grow and even shed tears many times.

There is no doubt there is so much more to learn, many more ups and downs to experience, mistakes and accomplishments, all of them will be part of the Gaby & Grace story that hopefully will inspire one or two to believe that dreams can start very small and it is never too late in life to take action.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Gaby & Grace is dedicated to creating one of a kind designed handcrafted jewelry that brings joy and happiness to those who wear it, while being affordable, and comfortable to wear.

We have a commitment with the community to share this vision, not only with customers, but with women of all ages that maybe can’t afford a piece of jewelry but would appreciate a gifted accessory that will bring a smile to their face. We have worked with the Galveston Community on social projects and it is in our plans to continue doing it.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I have been fortunate to have met people that have shared their business story and advised how to start and grow a new business.

Listening to experienced people has been very important as a new entrepreneur, in my case, while having conversations with them, there was this immediate empathy that helped confirm the faith in my dreams.

It can be very easy to feel discouraged when things seem difficult, encouragement from mentors helps so much! I would highly recommend to find a mentor or to ask questions directed to people who have been there.

One of the best pieces of advice is to be patient. Starting a business from scratch requires hours and hours of continuous work and involves all kind of sacrifices.

One of the mentors one day told me, “A business is like a ladder, take one step at a time, don’t try to rush, one step will take you to the next one.”


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Image Credits

Katie Haukebo Photography

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