Mother-Daughter Entrepreneurs: Power Duo in Murfreesboro
More than a decade ago, Kathy Gannon went through some downsizing in the automotive industry but she wasn’t ready to retire.
She’d always been “a t-shirt person” and quite crafty so, in researching various franchise opportunities, Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More caught her eye. She felt it was a business that blended something fun with her interest in design plus the “daytime” business model kept her nights and weekends largely free for her family. So, in December 2009 she made what amounted to a leap of faith and signed on the dotted line. In July 2010, she opened her shop in Murfreesboro, one of the first few shops in the Big Frog franchise system.
Located in a busy shopping location with restaurants including Bonefish Grill and Chop House as well as other destination shops and even a hospital nearby, the site has proven to offer good traffic and visibility in a fast-growing area. It’s been a rewarding site and good for business.
Carly was just a teenager when Kathy opened Big Frog and would come in after school. She was really good at the design, Kathy says. Although she graduated from Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Carly did not study art…she picked up the design expertise all by personal study.
Now, Carly is poised to take over the shop when her mom retires.
“I wasn’t one of those parents who forced decisions on their kids – I really wanted to let Carly do what she wanted,” Kathy said. “While it wasn’t the plan to pass down the business at first, it’s turned out to be really nice that we can work with each other now so she can comfortably learn all the aspects of the business and effortlessly step in when the time is right.”
The mother-daughter entrepreneurs say they have their challenges in working together, just like anybody else, but they’ve found it’s helped them to grow closer.
“You may not have time to talk at home, but you can while you’re in the shop as long as you don’t have a rush of customers,” Kathy smiled.
Giving Back to Murfreesboro
Kathy says one of the more surprisingly gratifying aspects of owning her own Big Frog shop is the opportunity to help area folks with fundraising. All sorts of churches, schools, and other non-profits benefit from Big Frog’s online t-shirt fundraisers and she gets to be in on the design and production fun.
“The community giveback is a part of the business I never expected but I am so in favor of it,” Kathy said. “Especially recently with COVID and a lot of the devastation the last couple of years, we could really help out. And that feels good.”
Kathy also takes pride in their efforts to support veterans and first responders in their small community. Big Frog of Murfreesboro has printed custom t-shirts for the Police Department in Murfreesboro, the Fire Departments in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, and the Woodbury Ambulance Service. “We support our veterans through donations to the Woodbury Lions Club,” she says. The local t-shirt printer also prints t-shirts for Memorial Day horse rides and horse shows. As a horse-loving community, these horse rides are a big thing for the Murfreesboro community.
Big Frog is a Family Affair
While there’s precious little downtime after work, Kathy does dream of learning to paint. For Carly, she’s currently busy completing an interim position on the Woodbury School Board and will be on the ballot in August. Between budget meetings and keeping technology certifications on track in several different fields (mechanics, design, cosmetology, etc.), Carly doesn’t have much free time either.
But the mother-daughter entrepreneurs, along with Tim (Kathy’s husband/Carly’s dad) and a family friend, Jr. Brandon, took apart an old cabin log by log and painstakingly reassembled it in the woods sprawling behind their Woodbury home. And this is no mere smear cabin – the two floors boast an upstairs bedroom and bathroom and downstairs is a family room. The team worked meticulously to design and decorate it over the last two years and you could say it was their personal getaway project.
The close-knit family is devoted to the Woodbury and Murfreesboro communities and is active in their local church. Kathy also serves on the Board of the Woodbury Day School and the Center of Hope. Kathy is also a member of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce.
Visit Kathy and Carly at their Big Frog shop located at 509 N. Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro, TN 37129, open from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Saturday and Sunday. Contact them online at BIGFROG.COM/MURFREESBORO, call 615-624-6670, or email email@example.com.Back