Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Cindy Monroe of Thirty-One Gifts

Photo provided by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Editor’s Note: This episode of cbuzz was previously recorded in fall 2019 and published at a later date.

The Columbus Chamber and Capital University have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, Columbus-based brand journalist Mikaela Hunt will speak with local business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

When Cindy Monroe started Thirty-One Gifts in 2003, she never dreamed it would turn into a large, multi-million dollar company. Having done direct sales in college (Pampered Chef her goods of choice), she loved the flexibility and the extra income the experience provided.

“I loved that opportunity and I wanted to be able to offer it to other women,” Monroe says.

Her decision to start the company was about having fun and helping women, “It was never about becoming the CEO of a major company,” she says.

Alas a direct selling conglomerate with a focus on bags, Thirty-One Gifts has now become one of the fastest-growing, women-owned businesses in the country.

During the podcast, Monroe describes how the company’s growth really took on a life of its own.

“Whenever you’re passionate and you find purpose in building something, you get behind that and you start working really hard at it,” she says.

Achieving a little bit of success makes a business owner want to work harder and achieve that next bit of success. It’s a cycle.

For Thirty-One Gifts, that growth has involved a lot of moving. First, to new spaces practically every year, then the big decision to move operations from Tennessee to Columbus.

Monroe walks listeners through the strategic decision to bring the brand to Central Ohio. The company needed to fill a very specific role and important around inventory planning. Monroe posted the position in Atlanta and in Columbus. In Atlanta she found candidates that had done inventory planning for one store. In Columbus, she found candidates that, thanks to the city’s strength as a retail hub, had done planning for all the stores.

Monroe says they were also able to find talent that had experience in the direct sales industry through Longaberger.

Last year, Thirty-One Gifts came to a fork in the road as the lease on their space in Columbus was not being renewed. Looking at the obstacle as an opportunity, Monroe explains how they decided to keep their corporate office in Columbus and move their fulfillment center to Dallas, TX, using it as an opportunity to grow their presence in the Western U.S.

During the podcast, Monroe also discusses how she stays balanced as a busy business owner and her experience as a woman in the industry. She didn’t feel it was necessarily a barrier being a woman, but more being young, and at times, insecure.

Click here to listen to the full podcast featuring Cindy Monroe of Thirty-One Gifts

“It was hard because it was hard,” she says.

Listen to the full podcast to hear about how Thirty-One Gifts has evolved, what’s up next for the company and more.

Never miss a cbuzz podcast! Visit the Columbus Chamber website for more great stories and advice from local business owners.

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Photo provided by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce