Class of 2010
Gina Nacey had helped start the St. Cloud Art Crawl and founded The Loft Fine Art Gallery by the time she was selected.
What are you doing now?
Creative Strategy, Adventure Advertising St. Cloud (also managing teams in Minneapolis and Brainerd).
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
Being part of the 5 Under 40 was surely an honor — and an incredible validation of my career thus far. It's been a great way to connect with other business people who have also been honorees.
Other big changes since you received the award?
Many! New offices: Two years ago we moved to 819 St. Germain St. and this year opened an office in Minneapolis. New hires: an increase from eight to 24. New awards for creativity: seven of the last eight regional American Advertising Awards Best of Shows. And a host of new national and international clients.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
All of the energy around the downtown ... It's so amazing to see the new businesses opening and thriving in our city center. It's creating a sense of pride in St. Cloud and a sense of community for the people who live and work here.
Originally ran: January 7, 2011
Gina Nacey isn't afraid to fail.
Nacey works in creative strategy for Adventure Advertising in downtown St. Cloud, where her work has helped many businesses — including those that suffered during the economic downturn.
Her penchant for creative risk won her contracts with high-profile companies that needed her touch when the recession hit their business or when they simply wanted rebranding. The companies include St. Cloud scrapbooking pioneer Creative Memories, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2009, Waite Park-based Bernick's and Little Falls-based Larson Boats, which at one point employed 800 workers but shed all except 150 during the recession.
Nacey knows not all ideas are successful, but that's exactly how she's able to do her work well. She said she's constantly pushing for more, new and better ideas. During brainstorming meetings for creating catalogs or other content, she's the one who pushes harder. She asks how to do something differently or how to make a bolder, fresher statement.
"We're so fortunate that that's what we get paid to do," she said.
Her work didn't come to fruition in the case of Salad Bowl restaurant, whose downtown and Crossroads Center mall storefronts closed. But she tries not to take that personally.
She admits to being a perfectionist, and says her stress levels can give her a frenetic energy. But she doesn't want her work to become static. And she has an entrepreneurial spirit, which helps when clients bring her on, because she becomes more of a partner in the business instead of only the advertising guru.
"I want my work to mean something," she said.
She takes her work beyond the office. She loves downtown St. Cloud, the arts and biking. So she founded The Loft Fine Art Gallery on St. Germain Street, started the first downtown art crawl and founded the St. Cloud Criterium Bike Race. She serves on the board of directors for GREAT Theatre.
Her husband, Eric Nacey, said she brings the same dedication to all she does. "She brings a lot of intensity to any career choice she makes," said Eric, with whom Gina has a 6-year-old adopted daughter, Priya. "She's the real deal when she's taking care of customers and when she's striving to get something done."
But she is also a committed mom who is present when she is with her family, he said.
Originally from Long Prairie, Gina Nacey got her education in English, communications and psychology at Concordia College in Moorhead. She knew she could write, but she didn't know about advertising — until she got to St. Cloud.
She got a job at Hatling & Thomas (now Hatlingflint) making coffee, watering plants and writing copy. She made her way to copy writer and then media buyer, working there three years before moving on to Meyer Marketing. She worked there 11 years in a number of roles, including copy writer and media buyer.
Scott Mitchell, a principal at the Adventure Advertising's Brainerd office, said he created the St. Cloud office for Nacey . She has a national reputation for her work and commitment to the industry; she's held various leadership positions in the American Advertising Federation, and was the youngest person to receive its Silver Medal Award for Achievement in Advertising, which she got in 2008.
She is knowledgeable and a self-starter, Mitchell said.
Nacey is a big believer in truth in advertising. She knows what kind of reputation a lot of the industry has — that agencies are willing to do anything, no matter how unethical, to make a few dollars. But that's not her.
She also enjoys staying busy, preferring variety and challenge and constant action.
She remembers not to put her ego in the way, and that what she's trying to do is find solutions to problems.
JOB: Creative Strategy, Adventure Advertising.
EDUCATION: English and communications major, psychology minor, from Concordia College in Moorhead.
RESIDENCE: Sauk Rapids; originally from Long Prairie.
INVOLVEMENT: Founder, The Loft Fine Art Gallery. Started the first downtown St. Cloud art crawl, which usually happens four times per year. Founded the St. Cloud Criterium Bike Race. Serves on the board of directors for GREAT Theatre. Past board member and past president, local chapter of American Advertising Federation. Served as governor of the eighth district for the AAF and oversaw AAF's national student competition. Also served on the AAF's national board of directors from 2008 until spring 2010.
HOW SHE LEADS: She leads by example, setting a positive tone and giving good feedback. She expresses clearly what she wants and helps people achieve what they want.