The Bold Agency propels companies to be their boldest, most authentic selves to connect to their audience/customers. Lauren Gowins taps into her unique upbringing of living in four different countries to relate to people and to approach branding in broad, creative ways. Bold focuses on a mixture of left-brained processes and right-brained imagination, to give their clients the fuel to make an impact. Bold isn’t about sales presentations or gimmicks. They believe a business’s potential lies in authentic human connections. The success of a company rests on the experiences people have with every touchpoint of its brand – whether online or in-person.
Gowins was introduced to the UAH SBDC by the Chamber of Commerce as she was laying the groundwork to establish her own creative agency. She worked closely with the former center director to understand how to create her LLC, secure businesses licenses and other details that she had never considered as an employee. When asked about her experience in working alongside the SBDC, Gowins exclaimed “The SBDC has provided excellent resources when I first started the business!” She wanted to make sure she started Bold without being beholden to any financial stakeholders and thus chose to self-fund the business. She utilized all the resources available at the SBDC to help create a stable company that was ready to launch on the date her non-compete clause expired. Because of the history of how and why Bold was started, its foundation is ingrained in the company’s values. And it’s not something they take lightly.
My SBDC advisors have given me the tools and the confidence to grow my business. I am very grateful that this organization has been with me every step of the way.
Bold is making a difference in the community. Gowins volunteered as a mentor to creative students at UAH. During this time the idea for Design Week Huntsville 2019 was born. “When I was doing a portfolio review at UAH, I noticed that every student said that there were no opportunities here for them in Huntsville as far as design industry goes and that’s just not right,” said Gowins. “So part of it is helping the community know about the amazing opportunities that they have here. It’s important for Huntsville to cultivate our talent and keep them here.” Gowins is committed to growing the community through events and collaboration. This includes jobs in design such as architecture, interior, and graphic design, and animation. The design week events aim to show off and create local opportunities to keep talent right here. Design Week Huntsville has become an annual event. It is a multifaceted week-long event series that unites designers from different industries, agencies, students, young professionals, etc. together to promote and discuss great design in our city.
In 2022, Gowins launched the Bold Impact Initiative. Every year Bold will partner with a local non-profit organization on a creative campaign that aids in the organization’s fundraising or brand awareness. The first campaign supported the Greater Huntsville Humane Society. Gowins is a vocal advocate for the SBDC and a regular presenter for webinar
trainings during the pandemic, she said “I was lost when it came to understanding the tax rules and what I needed to file when. As I continue to grow the business, the SBDC continuously provides support and resources for the information I need as we reach certain business goals. They’ve also helped me to position the company as a leader in the industry by allowing me to present industry topics/useful marketing tips to other businesses in the SBDC network.”
Staying debt free is still an obstacle Gowins has faced as the agency has grown into a full team through COVID. Instead of hiring more people at a lower salary, Gowins put a priority on hiring the right people at a higher salary compared to the industry average in Huntsville, which is risky. The team is small – which means Gowins manages 32 client accounts herself on top of doing additional creative work and managing the books. Gowins said “I face burnout every day and it’s hard to stay creatively inspired, but I’m motivated to continue to grow this business so that other creatives can thrive. I know if I have any questions about running my business, I can always reach out to the SBDC for assistance. The team at UAH has been so supportive of our organization.”
The Bold Agency was able to grow the business throughout the pandemic by offering virtual training to the Alabama SBDC community, managing several high-impact ad campaigns (like the local Mayoral race, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, and more) and continued leadership as a trusted creative business in the community.
Bold moved into a new full-service location in 2021 and is currently hiring. As of today’s report, the company has 4 full-time employees and 1 part-time employee. Gowins acknowledges “It will take us longer to grow in size but I foresee our sustainability in hiring strategically, paying people what they deserve, developing a culture built on a common goal to build an agency where creatives can thrive.” Gowins said “I hope to sustain our culture and growth by ensuring our foundational values are always implemented. We challenge our team members to take on a ‘personal growth project’ every quarter in which they get to learn a new skill set and can work on this project during business hours. It can be anything that interests them that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to work on. After they complete the project, the rest of the team shares what they learned and how we can apply it to other projects.”
Bold’s strategic vision/goals over the next five years is to establish itself as THE agency for creatives to work, grow, and build a career at. An agency that can define itself in the community as a company that treats employees with respect and pays at a higher competitive rate, that provides exceptional support to their clients, and that is highly involved in the community through our Bold Impact Initiative, Design Week Huntsville and educating other small businesses through SBDC training programs on marketing, branding social media and more. The Bold Agency is poised for a continued growth in North Alabama and beyond.