The women behind a local design agency on creativity and building the business of your dreams.
We’ll figure it out.
For the two women behind Finn & Gray, this saying has quickly become their motto—a way to stand in their power, embrace learning and recognize that they’re creating a life they love.
“Sometimes, it feels like we’re building the rollercoaster as it’s going up,” co-owner Amanda Nagy says.
Nagy and fellow co-owner Ami Kochendorfer have spent the last four years building a business that empowers other business owners to pursue flexibility and fulfillment on their own terms.
Though Kochendorfer, a Woodbury resident, and Nagy found their way into entrepreneurship in October 2019 more by chance than necessity (The pair spent seven and nine happy years, respectively, at Anytime Fitness’ parent company Self Esteem Brands before leaving in 2019.), they’ve found a niche as “creative wingmen.” It’s work that has been especially needed in the wake of the voluntary departure of nearly 47 million Americans from the workforce in 2021, known as the Great Resignation.
“… We could feel that people wanted to leave; they wanted to find something that was more suited toward their passion,” Nagy says. As a creative agency focused on logo and brand development, website design and photography, Finn & Gray doubles as an unofficial business coach at times, helping clients hone in on their mission, audience and goals to launch or rebrand their business.
One of Nagy’s top pieces of advice for people looking to start a business? Learn the difference between motivation and action. “Ami and I, coming from a fitness environment, you learn the difference between motivation and action. When you’re reading a business book or a blog or listening to a podcast—that’s motivation. Action is when you actually take something and start working on it,” Nagy says.
Kochendorfer recommends taking action by “setting up who you are as a brand—your vision, your mission, your core values, your differentiators—[if you] have those written down on a sheet of paper in front of you, every day, it helps you make decisions,” she says.
For Finn & Gray, color, light and joy (with a vintage twist) are the heart of it all. The agency’s mission: To prioritize life over work and make family the priority. The company’s name itself is reflective of that, with Finn standing for Finley (Kochendorfer’s daughter, 10) and Grace (Nagy’s daughter, 7) who are, like their moms, two peas in a pod.
“I feel like, through social media, we’re able to inspire others with our work and with the fact that we’re not hustle-culture people. I love the idea that we get to represent hard-working moms—but that’s not our life. Our families are our lives … And just showing that and being unapologetic about that … it’s important,” Nagy says.
Kochendorfer and Nagy spend their days being creative; creating logos, planning photoshoots, writing web copy and designing websites. So, how do they prevent burnout?
“It’s really important to get up and get away from the desk. We work out every morning at F45, and that helps us set the day up,” Nagy says. Sometimes, the pair will leave their “office” in a spare room of Kochendorfer’s home and migrate to her dining table, also known as “the common area.” Visiting antique shops to look at vintage typography is a treat, but inspiration can be found at home too—in an old family photo or conversation with their kids.
Kochendorfer and Nagy also frequently challenge themselves to make up projects, using ChatGPT to write imaginary creative briefs—all to get their creative juices flowing. “We’ll come up with our own brand and create our own ‘fake’ logo for it, just to stay creative and keep things fresh,” Kochendorfer says.
“Think of it like a basketball warm up,” Nagy adds. “It’s like a 15-minute thing that we just do to get in the groove.”
Motivation to Action
Here are some tips from Finn & Gray to get your business started on the right track.
- Come up with a really good idea. Who is your audience? What can you offer them? How are you different? “Understanding what your audience wants from you is probably the most important and most missed element in the process,” Nagy says.
- Add legitimacy to your business with a solid logo and brand. Get a great website started that includes photos of yourself, to show people who they’re supporting. “To have that mark that’s recognizable across all [your] materials, on [your] website—that’s just in itself very empowering because it makes you feel legit,” Kochendorfer says.
- Just go for it. “There’s no right time. And you won’t know all the answers at the beginning,” Kochendorfer says. Nagy adds, “You can do this. If we can do this, you can do it—for real.”