Meet the Ladies Whose Friendship Began With an Umbrella.

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Kerri GORMAN and Karen FOY

Founders Gorman Foy

Kerri GORMAN and Karen FOYFeatured Ladies Kerri Gorman and Karen Foy knew that starting a company with a friend was risky, but they’ve made it work to the tune of $1.7 million in annual revenue. Since meeting on a rainy day at the University of North Texas, the co-eds forged a best friendship that has successfully weathered the uncertainties of business ownership. After leaving their corporate jobs in 2001, Kerri and Karen launched Gorman Foy, Inc. – a printing and promotions business that now includes graphic design and copywriting, in addition to many other services. Gorman Foy has been profitable since its first full year in 2002 and boasts an impressive 90% client retention rate.
Immediately before launching Gorman Foy, Kerri was in sales and visuals for an interior design showroom in the Dallas World Trade Center. She was also a buyer for Harold’s, a chain of upscale women and men’s apparel stores and spent nearly ten years in the gift and gourmet business. Karen was an outside printing representative for The Odee Company – a commercial sheet-fed printer, who also specialized in digital imaging and specialty finishing. Previously, she was a sales representative for ABCO, where she sold offset printing, digital imaging, tabs and binders.

Despite successful careers, Kerri and Karen weren’t feeling fulfilled. “I wasn’t happy where I worked,” Kerri says. “And I kept hearing Karen talk about printing.” Even though neither woman admits to entrepreneurial aspirations, they decided to start a company together.

However, Gorman Foy wasn’t the ladies’ initial attempt at entrepreneurship. “Our first go at it was K&K Solutions, a custom gift basket business which Kerri and I started on the side of our careers,” says Karen. “It was craziness, outlandish hours and a lot of hard work.” Unfortunately, the company didn’t make any money, but they had loads of fun!

“It was a lot of stress, but also a lot of laughs, and I think that’s when we realized how much our personalities complement each other when it comes to business,” Kerri says.

That’s when the idea of Gorman Foy began to brew. “Our personalities and our backgrounds in printing and buying seemed like a perfect blend,” says Karen. “It just took a last nudge from our husbands for us to make that jump and we’ve never looked back!”

When pondering a name for their company, Kerri and Karen had the foresight that their business was going to grow and progress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed due to a business moniker, Karen and Kerri purposely named the company Gorman Foy utilizing “Printing and Promotions” as a tagline only, allowing for changes as their business evolved.

Like many small businesses, Kerri and Karen faced a challenge with start-up capital while trying to establish Gorman Foy. “We approached banks for a loan but were treated like little girls,” says Karen. So, each woman put in $20,000 – Kerri using a personal credit card and Karen borrowing money from her dad, which she paid back with interest.

In July 2001, with a portfolio of clients that Karen managed during her many years in commercial printing sales, the best friends launched Gorman Foy out of Karen’s house, which served as their office for the next nine months. Nine years later, Gorman Foy has progressed with the industry and its founders are proud to describe themselves as print, promotions and graphic communication experts. “We dare to call ourselves ‘enthusiasts,’ because we are truly passionate, even fanatical, about what we do,” Karen says.

“The printing business has changed over the past two to three years due to the economy. We added web design a few years ago to evolve our services,” Kerri says. “When we started, 80% of our business was printing and today it makes up 40%.”
Kerri and Karen know first-hand that owning a company with your BFF can be a great experience, but there are also logistical issues. “We can’t be pregnant at the same time or take vacations together,” says Karen. “We’ve had to switch off having kids.”

Both women are wives and mothers to two children. “I got pregnant nine months after we launched the company,” Kerri says. “The balance has gotten easier, but early on there were a lot of late nights and bouncy seats in the office.”
Today, Gorman Foy has five employees as well as several freelancers and boasts an impressive client list that spans a variety of industries.

What we learned from Karen and Kerri: “Being in business with your best friend makes for a real interesting combo.”

Live It
Karen: “You can have a career life and personal life. It’s OK to want both or just one. Don’t let society’s standards deter you from doing what you want.”

Keep It To Yourself
Kerri: “Try to do it on your own without getting any investors involved. Have a vision for what you want.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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