Business Excellence Awards
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Gina DiSpirito was 4 years old when she fell in love with art, 19 when she fell in love with starting a business and 24 when she fell in love with her husband and business partner, Adam Harvey.
Passion is one of the things that the creative director and principal of Glad Works, a full-service advertising agency, brings to her work. Accessibility, responsiveness and trust are the other attributes she commits to when working with her clients.
As a young woman, DiSpirito, 38, chose to spend a small inheritance from her late father on an Apple computer, instead of on a car, reasoning that working with computers would pay more dividends, and help her afford that car later.
“In my family, both my mother and father were very influential because they were both business owners,” she said. “I grew up in a house that had an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Her parents worked together in the Arthur Angelo School of Cosmetology, and father, Arthur Angelo, ran hair salons in Rhode Island and Florida, catering to old Hollywood celebrity clientele. Her father died when she was 19 of a heart attack.
“The family tie is very important,” she said. “Growing up in the business, you don’t realize how much you pick up and you learn. Nobody gives you a handbook. You’ve got to figure it out as you go. I find I take so much from my childhood.”
At Providence College, DiSpirito’s business sense became evident.
At 17, in 1992, she served as an intern at the college, doing graphic design for the school’s publication center. By 1995, she had formed her own company and was working at it part time, a role she maintained while working other jobs. When she was 19, she worked for Apple as a campus representative for two years, graduated, and worked as a production artist for Providence Business News. She then moved on to Aai.FosterGrant for two years until September 1999, when she and Harvey merged their clientele and launched Glad Works as a full-time ad agency.
Out of that collaboration, the partnership – and eventually, in 2008, the marriage – took shape.
“We just saw this opportunity,” she said, “where we could take both of our respective talents and marry them and have a site that worked and looked good at the same time.”
“I tell people [on the team], ‘Check the ego at the door,’ ” she said. “You have to be team oriented.”
Giving back with pro bono work locally and beyond is another value DiSpirito endorses.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Glad Works took some website projects for New York City’s fire department “off their hands” and helped them produce them for free. Years later, without seeking the work, the department hired her to do email marketing.
In the end, whether it’s for-profit assignments or charity, DiSpirito continues to guide Glad Works because she loves it.
“I’ve always loved art,” she said, and “I get to make a difference in my community.”