The Home Trust International (HTI): What compelled you to enter the design industry?
Gail Doby (GD): I’ve been around the world of interior design and architecture since I first graduated from college with a Finance & Banking degree and joined a Fortune 500 company in the home furnishings industry. Years later, I went back to school for a degree in interior design, and after years of running my own interior design business in 2008, made the leap to co-founding a business consultancy for interior designers and architects to teach them business skills that design schools didn’t teach. My finance degree has been immeasurably helpful in showing designers how to run a profitable business. I wanted to be an artist yet was not interested in the ‘starving’ aspect – felt that design would be the creative outlet I needed, and yet would also finance a beautiful life.
HTI: Who has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
GD: The Internet has had a huge influence on our business. Erin Weir, our Co-Founder, and I essentially learned a new language of marketing and delivering services on the Internet when designers were barely thinking about using computers in their businesses much less considering social media and having a website. It seems hard to believe that the world has changed so much since 2008. Ironically, we became a virtual company in 2009 and haven’t looked back.
Secondarily, I’d say that the books I’ve read, the courses we’ve taken and the coaches we’ve worked with have been pivotal to our growth.
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self-one thing, what would it have been?
GD: READ, READ, READ! Immerse yourself in learning as soon as you graduate from college. Find a mentor. Hire coaches.
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
GD: My husband and I met in our 30s, and we chose to parent fur children. We love to travel, and we enjoy trying new restaurants. We also love to spend time by the ocean.
We’re both fortunate to have lifetime friends. We’re quiet people who care deeply for our friends and family.
HTI: What is the best advice you have recieved and who was it from?
GD: The best advice I’ve gotten is from books. There are too many to list. The biggest lession I’ve learned is that personal growth is the key to business success.
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
GD: Absolutely yes! It’s the maker’s passion for quality and creativity.
HTI: What’s on your wish list?
GD: Since it’s a wish list, I’d love to have a modest house by the ocean.
HTI: Do you prefer the country or the city?
GD: I prefer city life. We love to be close to great restaurants and services.
HTI: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
GD: There are so many. We are so proud of our clients’ progress and growth. Over the time we’ve been in business, if we were to add up the revenue that our clients have generated – it would have to be over $1 billion, and the profit would be at least $120 million. .
HTI: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
GD: Just about everything in the industry has changed radically every three years or so. The key factors have been the pandemic, economic challenges, the political climate, changes in online technology and the way consumers behave. We’ve also seen many competitors [colleagues] come and go. We’ve worked hard to keep up with and ahead of the changes with new programs and services.
Erin and I remember when we started our first blog in 2007, and heard about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media wasn’t big when we started, and now we have Instagram, SnapChat and TikTok. Who would have guessed that we’d be addicted to our cell phones and the multitude of apps that we can’t do without.
- We went from our first Tele-summit (telephone and streaming web conferencing) with 14 speakers in 2008 to webinars, to Zoom video calls for our online events.
- We’ve gone from traditional weaving to print on demand fabrics and 3-D printing of merchandise.
- We’ve gone from quick-ship programs to 12+ month lead times and supply chain issues.
- We’ve gone from working at an office to working 100% virtually.
- We’ve gone from traditional full-time employees to global contractors.
- We’ve gone from 40 hours a week to flex-time to accommodate parents and workers that prefer working from home.
- We’ve gone from paper-driven businesses to paperless businesses.
- We’ve gone from checks to digital payments.
It’s been amazing to be a part of the rapid changes in the industry and the world.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
GD: A commitment to relationships.
HTI: Who do you miss the most?
GD: My sister and her two adult children that have lived in England since 1988.
HTI: Do you have a style or business icon?
GD: I love Richard Branson’s humor, vision and spunk.
HTI: What is your favorite object that reflects extraordinary design and why?
GD: If I must pick only one, it would be David of Michalangelo. It’s a stunning piece of craftsmanship and artistry.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
GD: When the designer is able to evoke an emotion as a result of their work it is inspiring.
HTI: What place most inspires you?
GD: Definitely the ocean if I were to pick something from nature. Otherwise, I love museums. One of my favorites is the Louvre.
HTI: What book have read recently that you enjoyed and why?
GD: Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown is one of my favorite books. It may seem odd, but I haven’t always been able to identify my feelings, so reading the definitions in this beautifully crafted book helped me to discern the nuances.
HTI: What are your favorite brands?
GD: I have a few favorites:
- I’m a Ritz-Carlton fan because of the great client experience they deliver.
- I love Apple because of their elegant, clean, sophisticated design. It’s the most reliable brand of technology I’ve ever used.
- Lexus is my favorite car because it is well-designed, and trouble-free.
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
GD: By the ocean reading.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
GD: It’s culture and client experience.
HTI: Why The Home Trust?
GD: The Home Trust understands luxury and service and connects connoisseurs with tastemakers and exceptional brands.
HTI: If you could be granted one wish. What would it be?
GD: To be healthy until leave this earth so I can contribute the most value to our industry and the people I care about.
HTI: What would you be doing if you weren’t in design and coaching?
GD: I would be painting and writing.
HTI: Who is on your personal ‘Board of Directors?’
GD: I’ve had the good fortune of having industry colleagues, demanding clients and close friends as my confidantes and Board of Directors. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear which is exactly why they are on my unofficial board.
HTI: What is your personal luxury?
GD: A great 3-hour deep tissue massage followed by time close to a waterfall or fireplace is my favorite indulgence.
HTI: Any final thoughs to share?
GD: One of my favorite memories was from 1980 when I flew in the oldest biplane in England. It was my first trip abroad, and my friend met me at Heathrow and immediately drove me to an airstrip in Surrey, England to fly over the countryside and buzz the house of his friends. The house happened to have been Douglas Fairbanks’ and Mary Pickford’s home at one time, and later that day, we sat in the back yard drinking wine and enjoying an unusually sunny English day. Note the slight smirk in the picture that shows my complete enjoyment of my more adventurous side. It’s a reminder to me to fly high and enjoy life.
Gail Doby is the Co-Founder of Pearl Collective [formerly known as Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting], a creative business consultancy. She is passionate about helping interior designers and creative entrepreneurs unlock their potential and achieve financial freedom. She loves building long-term relationships with interesting people and spending time thinking and creating solutions for her clients.