Tulsa Business Journal: Tell us a little bit about your business. When did/will you start it? Why? What is the overall mission of your business?
4BrooksDesign (April Brooks, spokeswoman): 4BrooksDesign is a family-based design and fabrication studio with an emphasis on creations made from concrete — a fancy concrete called GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete).
We are a creative family (dad, Terry, 58, and sisters April, 33; Alisa, 30; and Ashley, 21) that gets along fabulously. We love spending time together and decided to combine our talents and have a go at creating beautiful handmade items.
TBJ: If you have not yet started your business, do you have a timeline for when you will start it?
4BD: We are finishing up our initial learning and experimentation phase. Marketing will start in the next few months.
TBJ: What is your background? What made you interested in starting this particular business?
4BD: I am extremely curious and adventurous, so my background is varied, from a library employee and a bookstore training supervisor to a traveling henna artist. I eventually realized that that I loved the idea of working for myself. I knew that with the combined talents of the Brooks family we could make my idea work.
TBJ: What triggered your idea for your business concept?
4BD: While working at the library I came across a book by Fu-Tung Cheng about the beauty of concrete and have been thinking about it non-stop ever since.
TBJ: How are you funding your business?
4BD: Basic start-up costs for working with GFRC are pretty low, so I have been able to avoid going into debt. Still, there have been a lot of peanut butter sandwiches.
TBJ: Have revenues been what you expected and/or hoped?
4BD: Since we haven’t started marketing and selling yet, revenues are still just expectations and hopes. But they are high ones!
TBJ: Where would you like to take your business in the next year?
4BD: I would love to make a modest profit. We plan to have a well-established online presence. I will hopefully have developed relationships with Tulsa’s other artisans for collaborative purposes. We will definitely have some nice showpieces in my favorite local businesses by this time next year.
TBJ: In the next five years?
4BD: I would love to buy a CNC machine to help with building more intricate molds. The concrete industry is always pushing for the next mix design, the next sealer, and always striving to make the concrete greener and ultimately easier to work with. There is no telling what the future holds, but it will be exciting.
TBJ: What do you hope to gain from participating in the Spirit Award?
4BD: I’m looking forward to working with business professionals who can help me answer some of the more technical questions. I also think this will be a way to meet many of the great Tulsa innovators, regardless of whether we make it to the next level.
TBJ: How important has the Spirit Award been in encouraging you to try to start a business?
4BD: The Spirit Award has really pushed me to look at all the nuts and bolts of starting a business correctly, which I had been putting off before I decided to enter this contest. It’s been a great motivator to have goals and deadlines.