From a young age, I was forced to think unconventionally. In high school, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and had to learn techniques to cope with the disorder. Later, I went to Sonoma State University where I discovered my knack for business and love for philanthropy. I was the philanthropic chair and chairman of the board for the student union and held my first event when I created a bowl-a-thon for the homeless. After graduating, I became a financial advisor and owned a few interest companies.
But I yearned for more in life, both professionally and philanthropically.
I began working on numerous non-profit events. One of my specialties was recruiting celebrities for exposure and marketing purposes. When a well-known star would attend, I'd reward them with a gift and have them take photos with it.
The idea came from a photo of Ozzy Osbourne with a watch in his mouth. I channeled my business man mentality and experienced an "a-ha!" moment for my business, GBK Productions.
I started GBK in 2001 when I asked myself the million-dollar question: what do I want to do with my life?
The answer was simple at the time: I wanted to help others and make a difference in the world.
While launching GBK, I turned my one-bedroom apartment into GBK Production's office, which remained for the first three years of business. During this time, I knew how essential it was to use my business intuition, unconventional philosophy and personal drive to help others. I taught business owners to persevere when creating a business.
Being in Los Angeles for so long, I knew when building GBK (specifically our gifting suites) that I needed to develop a unique business model, especially in such a competitive industry. My approach was to generate a win-win strategy where everyone involved would benefit.
First, our clients would win because they'd receive photos of celebrities with their products to use for marketing and media exposure. The celebrities would win because they'd receive original items. GBK would win because we'd make a living doing what we love while helping others. And organizations would win by educating celebrities and the press on their causes, which would result in spokespeople, press and donations.
I attribute much of our success to this approach and to our originality. The aspiration to be ahead of the game and pay attention to all aspects of our events is a winning formula. I am personally involved in each function, utilizing a holistic method to discern and design each client vision. These are the vital pieces of the GBK formula for success.
GBK has been in business for over 15 years and has grown immensely since conceived, now consisting of five divisions: Celebrity Gifting, Event Production, Weddings, Charitable Consulting and Marketing/Public Relations. Though separate, each entity is interconnected, allowing clients and brands a full range of marketing services and benefits. Our mission, my personal mission, and the backbone of GBK is the notion of always giving back.
Many have referred to GBK as "Giving Back Kindly" because of our non-profit organizations. Since the start of GBK, we have donated, raised or gifted over 10 million dollars for upwards of 50 causes. It's fulfilling to be able to help businesses garner exposure and watch them grow, whether a non-profit or a for-profit company, as well as satisfy my passion for giving each day.
About the author: Gavin Keilly is the founder and CEO of GBK Productions. Gavin, a Southern California native, organizes special events for the entertainment industry, the non-profit sector and is renowned for his celebrity gift suites.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.