Visionary Women: Nicole Gardner

A recipe for success

This bakery owner started with inspiration and added a dash of calculated risk

Nicole, they say 60% of restaurants fail in the first year and here you are, years later, and The G-Free Spot is a thriving bakery.  What inspired you to launch a business in such a tough industry? Throughout my life and career, many people have inspired me to grow, take chances, fail and ultimately succeed. They have gifted me in so many ways by showing confidence in my abilities, supporting my risk-taking ventures and challenging me to push myself further than I imagined I was capable of. My children inspire me to grow continuously and become a better version of myself. They are why I chose to be who I am every day and do what I do. Setting the example of holding oneself to high standards and continuous improvement is the best way to impress upon them the importance of it in life.

We have had recessions, a pandemic and many challenges that have plagued local businesses. What has been the most major challenge you have faced? The biggest challenge I have overcome while continuing to struggle with is the feeling of inadequacy. Though it’s likely a very unpopular trait for “successful” people to have, it’s a reality I deal with. I regularly work through risk assessments and mitigation plans in an ongoing effort to avoid failure. It is the plight of someone who does not like to fail but also accepts that it is a reality we all must come to terms with.

What advice can you give our children, and our readers, to help them stay true to their vision? Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks! Plan, prepare, and jump! You’ll never be completely “ready”; just know that you’re ready enough to make the best of it. Chances are, it will turn out differently than you had planned – likely even better!

Three Lessons Learned

Have you learned some lessons along the way that you can share here?

1. Not everyone will be in your corner or cheering for you – that’s ok; not everyone is meant to be. Own it, accept it, and be thankful for it. You find the most personal growth when challenged by those not cheering you on. These people will push you out of your comfort zone and for that, be thankful. 

2. Having a plan is great! Having a backup plan is even better. To accept that your life may look nothing like either of those plans is the most honest thing you can tell yourself. That’s not to say you shouldn’t plan; it’s merely an acceptance that we cannot even fathom what the world has in store for us – and that is the gift that keeps giving. 

3. Appreciate the ups and downs. Feel confident in who you are as an individual, approach each situation with the best of intentions and the realization that we, as humans, don’t always make the best choices. Opportunities are plentiful, as are successes and failures. The loudest voice you hear is the one in your head – make sure she’s talking nicely to you and paying you the respect you deserve.

Nicole Gardner

Founder & CEO-  The G-Free Spot, Inc


Call: 843-802-4411 

Come in: 1511 Main Street, Hilton Head Island (Main Street Village)

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