Written by: Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Designs
I grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Hawkinsville, Georgia. The kind of welcoming small-town where you know everyone, and where you’re related to half the county. And the neighboring county too! When I began my freshman year at the University of Georgia in 2002, I was so comforted to see some of those familiar faces from our small town, right there on the big campus of the University of Georgia.
This past fall, when the Bulldog 100 list was announced, I was proud to again see several of those names sharing the honor with me. Hardy’s Peanuts is interwoven into my life, as we grew up on neighboring farms where Ken Hardy (BSA ’93) and Brad Hardy (BSA ’96), along with their family, now run their family farm. I sure wish our grandparents were here to celebrate this achievement with us; they would be so proud! Robert Moore (BSAE ’04), of Moore Civil, is a childhood friend from home, and his wife, Courtney, and I have been great friends since we were kids. He and his brother, Michael Azzolin (PHARMD ’02) (also from Hawkinsville), of PharmD on Demand, get to share this honor together this year, too. It’s been a joy to be included on this list alongside hometown friends and to share that same entrepreneurial spirit with them that we’ve inherited from generations before us.
My husband, David, and I now call Gainesville, Georgia, “home.” We’ve loved getting to know the amazing people who also call this charming “big” small-town “home,” and we are proud to be raising our two boys here as well. The close proximity to Athens is one of our favorite things about the city. Gainesville has been great in supporting my small business and David’s too.
The city has a fantastic community of women business owners, and I am thrilled to see two of my friends on this year’s Bulldog 100 list. Amanda Wilbanks (BBA ’09), of Southern Baked Pie Company, fed me pie in her home kitchen while I was pregnant with my oldest child (who is now almost 7!), before opening her first shop. I am proud of her incredible vision and I sure do love her pies too! Katie Dubnik (BBA ’03), another fellow female business owner and entrepreneur in Gainesville, shares the list with Amanda and me. Her extraordinary business brings invaluable marketing strategies to companies across the Southeast, and she manages a smart, energetic group of creatives at her company, Forum Communications.
I will be forever indebted to the University of Georgia for my education and for the opportunities that this wonderful university has afforded to me and to my family. The network of loyal Bulldogs never ceases to amaze me, and I am so proud to be among this incredible group this year.