Have you ever decided not to buy a poster you love to avoid the hassle of framing it? That’s what happened to Susan Tynan, founder and CEO of Framebridge, a company set up to make framing faster, easier, and more affordable.
Frustrated after spending US$1,600 to frame four posters bought on her trip around America’s national parks, she founded Framebridge, which blends e-commerce, logistics, and an intense focus on the customer experience to make custom framing easy on the buyer and the wallet.
Tracey Griffin was brought on board wearing two hats. As chief financial officer (CFO), she represents the Framebridge’s high aspirations and strategizes on how to best spend capital to achieve growth. And as chief operating officer (COO), Griffin is in charge of the operational side and can really roll up her sleeves with the engineering teams.
“I was really excited about coming to Framebridge, because the brand has an enormous potential for growth,” says the executive, who prides herself on coaching and mentoring her teams. Thanks to a background in merchandising, Griffin has a well-rounded approach. “By not putting retail, finance, and operations in separate boxes, it’s easier to eliminate silos and focus on outcomes,” she explains.
What Makes the Framebridge Difference
The company claims it can frame anything, and customers have responded by saying “Let’s Framebridge this or that — demonstrating the power of the brand.
“We can add depth to our frames, so a lot of customers end up getting three-dimensional artwork on their walls,” Griffin explains. “We’ve framed everything from baby shoes to baseball jerseys to doilies and guitar picks. Really, we can frame whatever reflects the things that make you happy.”
As an online business, the company can serve customers anywhere in the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a surge in orders. Framebridge owns the entire process, with expert framers and designers making everything in its own production facility in Kentucky.
The company aims to make the framing process simple, beginning with a website that is highly interactive. Customers can upload a picture of the item they want to frame and try out different frames to find the right one. They can also chat with a designer about their ideas. In addition to everyday customers, the company partners with artists, businesses, and designers.
“Our goal is to deliver a highly personal product and experience,” Griffin says. “It’s really all about helping the customer to visualize what they could do with their space.” One testimonial on the website says that Framebridge makes a last-minute idea look like a well-thought-out one.
Reaching New Heights
Framebridge started off as an online endeavor, distinguishing it from older companies that have had to transition their business to include e-commerce. Instead of worrying about finding the right location for stores and attracting enough customers locally, Framebridge focused on honing its concept and establishing a presence that made ordering safe, easy, and as satisfying as possible online.
Now, the company also has stores in Brooklyn, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, and plans to expand its physical presence into other U.S. cities in the coming year.
“The role of technology is fundamental to our business,” says Griffin, whose main task is to provide the foundation for a seamless online experience while enabling flawless supply chain performance when producing, shipping, and delivering the product. Framebridge is an open-sourced, custom platform end-to-end, from discovery to commerce to manufacturing.
Words of Advice
Prior to Framebridge, Griffin served as CFO at fashion and lifestyle brand Kendra Scott, and as CFO and COO at Pandora jewelry. She was previously a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, where she focused on retail and consumer goods clients. She also served on the Board of United Negro College Fund (UNCF), currently on the Partnership for Healthier America.
“When I was at McKinsey, my mentor took me to lunch one day and told me I was doing great work, but it wasn’t clear how they could support me to become a partner,” she recalls. “I thought it was enough to perform well, but that moment was a wake-up call for me; I realized I had to be a better advocate for myself!”
Griffin says that women are often not as proactive at advocating for themselves as men. It is important to regularly seek out constructive feedback and act on it, she says, especially in the startup environment, where people work at such a mad pace there can be no time to create a career plan. Her mantra for success is to take 15 minutes every week with your manager and ask, “What’s the one thing I did well this week, and what’s the one thing I need to work on?”
Griffin and the team at Framebridge are on a mission to help people tell their stories by framing the memories they love. They do it with beautiful products, affordable prices, quality craftsmanship, and, of course, an easy, interactive online experience. That’s why customers keep coming back.
The Path Forward is a news series featuring trailblazing women in leadership and their inspiring insights and experiences.
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