Founder. Author. Artist. Trailblazer.
Gay cashed in $16,000 in 1989 to create a new breed of agency, T3 (now known as Material), an innovative digital marketing agency that grew into the largest independent female-owned agency in the U.S., under Gay’s leadership for more than 30 years.
Today, Gay is focusing her always-on energy to empower entrepreneurs and the next generation of women business leaders to take big leaps in their careers and lives. She is an active speaker on women’s leadership, company culture and entrepreneurship. Her book, Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business & Life, shares insights and examples for women to develop personal power and lead like fearless cowgirls.
In Her Own Words
I spent the first decade of my career working in advertising. It was basically Mad Men with bell bottoms—complete with catcalls and intimidation. It was a toxic environment and it was not for me. My next few roles in PR and management consulting opened me up to a different kind of leadership. I was working with organizations and mentors who didn’t suppress my strengths because I’m a woman, but rather fostered them to help me become stronger.
I was given opportunities to take on projects and lead teams well beyond my experience. At times, it felt like I was fighting above my weight. But I was seeing successful results and bringing something interesting to the table. It was during this time I was able to realize just how strong I was.
Emboldened and raring to make a change, I returned to advertising. It was the 80s and a recession was on the horizon. Despite the agency’s success, I knew we could answer client needs with something smarter than bloated TV spots. We were missing a bigger opportunity.
I put together a plan and pitched it to the agency. They called it “cute.”
That stung. But it also lit a fire in me that changed my life. I walked out of that office knowing one thing was for damn sure—if they didn’t want to change things with me, I’d do it without them. I quit, cashed in a $16,000 IRA and started my own company, T3.
I believe every woman has limited power to make the life she wants. She just has to light her own fire.
About the Artist
Gay Gaddis watches Texas skies. She grew up in east Texas among farmers and ranchers who depended on the weather – the main topic at any meal. Painting skies takes her back to memories of wonderful people who helped raise her.
Gay received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Texas, and now serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council to the College of Fine Arts at UT.
Her work has been featured in several one-woman shows including the Curator Gallery in New York City, the Octavia Art Gallery in Houston and the Submerge Gallery in Austin. She has also been represented by the Worrell Gallery in Santa Fe, and has notable collectors around the world.
Texas Monthly honored Gay as one of “10 Artists to Collect Now” and her landscape artwork has been recognized by Paper magazine as one of “10 Must-See Art Show Openings,” Artnet in “What I buy and Why” and Tribeza magazine. Learn more about Gay’s art career including her inspiration behind her artwork.
Refuge in People and Place
Much of the photography on this site was taken at our Double Heart Ranch, home to my private art studio and gallery, Fossil Ridge and a place I go to for inspiration, recharging, painting and family (with some hard work mixed in). I want to thank the people who helped capture my relationship to this sacred place: celebrity photographer, Mark Seliger and award-winning hair and makeup artist, Kattia Solano.
From founding and building the largest independent female-owned agency in the country and writing a best-selling book, to leadership advice and training and selling out art galleries, Gay Gaddis is a trailblazer in all her endeavors. Learn more about Gay’s inspiring story and what she has to offer.
Boards & Organizations
Through Gay’s political and charitable work for over 30 years, she has built a personal network that can move mountains and literally save lives.