The Story of Kenwood Design

Abby Gronli | Kenwood Design

Meet Abby,

She’s a soon-to-be mother of two, a marketer at redstar creative agency and the founder of her own business, Kenwood Design. As a friend and coworker of Abby, it’s worth being said that she’s one the sweetest, most organized and endearing people I’ve met. I also knew her ridiculously kind heart wouldn’t turn me away when I asked to interview her about her new business. But, I think her story and passion will be relatable for a lot of entrepreneurs out there.

The beginning…

Abby’s been in the world of business and marketing ever since graduating from MSU – Mankato (go Mavs!) in 2013. She spent a few years working for Schwan’s in Marshall as their Brand Marketing Analyst and is currently a member of the creative team at redstar in Willmar. Towards the end of 2018, she switched to part-time at redstar so she could dedicate more time to building her side hustle into a business.

Kenwood Design: long story, short.

Kenwood Design officially launched in June of 2018, but the design projects started long before that. In 2014, Abby and her husband Micah moved into a 1960’s rambler on a farm near Wabasso. Over the years, they’ve been ambitiously tackling their own home improvement projects. (Note: they aren’t your standard DIY projects.) We’re talking taking down walls, putting new ones up, and completely changing the look and feel of rooms. Despite the endless to-do list for their home, Abby found herself loving every minute of it – well, almost every minute.

“It sounds silly, but social media was the reason why I started Kenwood.

Last April, after one of the many late season snowstorms, she posted a picture on Facebook of her dining room that was decorated for Spring and captioned it “Wishful thoughts that outside would soon reflect the inside.” The post got more likes and comments that she ever expected from friends asking for help with their own homes.

The comments and feedback that continued to come her way were what really validated that this was a need. “It really lit a fire underneath me.” From there, fun thoughts and business ideas she’d had for many years while watching HGTV and talking about “what ifs” with her husband came to life pretty quickly as she started taking on clients.

How are things going these days?

“A lot of the time that’s passed since starting my business last June has been spent laying the groundwork for what I’d like to do.” A couple of months ago, Abby went through our Startup Bootcamp to help give her some much needed direction and time to plan. It also helped her vocalize a lot of what she was wanting to do and where she was wanting to go.

“A lot of those thoughts just swirl around in your head. You start to look at your business in a whole new light. I don’t think that would’ve happened if I wouldn’t have had two full days to focus on it with other entrepreneurs that are in the same place and going through many of the same things. It was reassuring to know we were all in the same boat trying to figure things out.”

So, what’s your biggest challenge right now?

“For me right now, it’s trying to balance everything. Or, give everything the time that it needs. Between being a business owner, an employee, a parent, a friend, a wife and so on. That’s my biggest worry. That I won’t be able to give my business the time it needs to take off and be successful.”

Any helpful business tools you’re using?

  1. Milanote: This one helps Abby collaborate with clients, share ideas and bring some initial concepts to life.
  2. Home Designer Suite: An awesome tool for creating mockups! This is what she’s currently using to put together her first 3D design for a client looking to completely remodel their lake home.
  3. Instagram: She’s a fellow millennial, so you can’t be too surprised. This is where Abby follows and connects with other designers + bloggers, plus finds tons of inspiration by following other industry accounts.

Have you received any good advice lately around entrepreneurship?

“If it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, you aren’t doing it right. I’ve learned (or am trying my best) to just get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

What do you love about your work?

“I like helping people love their space again. Whether it’s their entire home, a room, or even a business. Helping people see the potential in what they have and transform it into something that feels like them. It’s kind of surreal to be turning what I love to do in my spare time into a business. So often, we get stuck in our heads that what we go to school for or what we’ve spent years doing is what we have to stick with. I’m starting to find that’s not the case for me and it doesn’t have to be for others.”

If you want to learn more about Abby and Kenwood Design, come check out our upcoming Pitch Night at WORKUP. It’ll be entrepreneurial people, idea sharing and happy hour – what more could you ask for?