Woman-Owned & Woman-Led

Drury Design President, Gail Drury, knows the challenges faced by female business owners specifically. We asked Gail to share her insights about being a female business owner, motherhood, and design trends!
What makes you most proud about founding a woman-owned business, Drury Design?

I rarely think of it in the sense of having founded a woman-owned business. I am proud to be a role model for my children. Hopefully, I am showing them that male or female, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

What challenges have you overcome over 30 years in business?

At my first kitchen design seminar, there were one hundred and fifty men and two women. The industry consisted mostly of men selling boxes. It was a real novelty at the time to sell design concepts. I started in the kitchen and bath business in 1977 with St. Charles Kitchens and went out on my own in 1987 to launch Drury Design.  We have had many obstacles to overcome over the years.  We had a fire one year and lost our showroom and everything in it. Another year, one of our cabinet factories burned to the ground with 13 of our kitchens in production. That was a tough one, as a lot of our customers already had their kitchens torn out. Of course, there are also the ups and downs of the economy. That alone can create havoc for a business.

How has the home design and remodel industry evolved, and how has it stayed the same since Drury Design was founded?

When I first started in the industry, a custom kitchen was something that not just anyone could afford to have.  Most people bought cabinet boxes and installed them without thought to work triangles, lifestyles, and design elements. Custom kitchens are now the norm, and everyone has access to the design assistance to make sure they get things right.  Styles and finishes have come and gone (and some have come back again!). The kitchen work triangle has expanded over the years from having the stove, sink, and refrigerator as the primary three cooking stations to multiple work stations to accommodate the modern family’s needs and the ever-changing technology. The one thing that has stayed the same is that typical family life has always revolved around the kitchen and the activities that happen there.

Do you have projects you’re most proud of and why?

One particular project does not come to mind. I think the ones I am most proud of are the ones where we have completely transformed a space in a way never even conceivable to the homeowner. For example, we can take a small space, and by moving doors, windows and possibly a wall or two, we create something so much more functional for the homeowners without adding square footage. I am all about “less is more”; let’s take what we have to work with and make it the best it can be!

Why are you passionate about home design?

To me, it is all about the architectural side of creating spaces that are totally functional yet aesthetically pleasing. Balance and symmetry are important to me. I want to walk into a room and feel how it all flows together naturally. If something is out of balance or out of proportion, it just doesn’t feel right to me.

What is the most rewarding element of your role as president of Drury Design?

Working together as a team to create beautiful spaces for our clients.  Watching our designers develop their own styles and create their own beautiful spaces means a lot to me. Working with my husband and brother is also rewarding. None of this would be fun if I were doing it alone.

You associate with the term ‘mompreneur’. What advice do you have for moms who are starting their own ventures while raising a family?  

Take it slow is my main advice. I started off working part-time so I could also spend time with my children.  I was fortunate to have my husband’s support during that time. My business grew at a nice, even pace, so it was never totally overwhelming. Taking time for yourself is also important but very hard to do when you are a ‘mompreneur’.

Do you have advice for interior designers who are beginning their careers to help them be successful and build an admirable design portfolio?

My advice would be to establish yourself first doing designs that you know how to create and you are comfortable doing.

While home remodeling styles may come and go, it’s clear that women business owners are here to stay. As Gail knows, whether in design or in one’s personal life, balance is key to happiness and success- that, and having room for the whole family in the kitchen!

Recent Projects by Gail Drury, CMKBD

Chicago Renovation Project Revives Gold Coast Brownstone

View Project 

Kitchen with a View – St. Charles

View Project 

Chicago Brownstone Master Bath Remodel

View Project 

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