Entrepreneur- Designer- World Traveler-Brunswick Resident
When you ask someone where they are from you typically expect the response to include a city or country. In Josh Bruce’s case, it was less straightforward, “I spent the first half of my life growing up in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where I learned to sweat with the best of them. So that helped me feel right at home moving to south Georgia!” Josh’s experience and travel made his decision to set roots in the Golden Isles that much more exciting for our team to learn about.
Over the past two years, Josh began planting his roots in the Golden Isles, with his wife, and as an entrepreneur. Josh is the founder of Idea Lab, a web design and digital marketing firm in Georgia. Idea Lab is still a relatively new startup in our community but has already worked with some of the most captivating brands in our community including The Vine, Sea Island Forge, and Frosty’s Griddle and Shake.
You have literally traveled the world, but put down roots in the Golden Isles with a home purchase in Brunswick. What was the appeal of the Golden Isles over everywhere else you have experienced?
What was the a-ha moment for you and your wife to choose Brunswick?
When we realized that we could live within blocks of some of our closest friends in a cool 100-year-old house with really amazing bones, 15 minutes from beaches on two islands, and have 2 solid international airports just at 1 hour away it was a no brainer. The pace of life suits us.
You and your wife bought a house in historic Brunswick. Why Brunswick over other places in the region?
Honestly, it was the people. My wife and I lived on St Simons for the first four years of our marriage and had a few young couple friends who just would not stop talking about moving downtown. We were casually looking for houses when all of a sudden the most adorable bungalow came available just two blocks from multiple of our friends. The charm of historic Brunswick and the affordability of the houses was something we couldn’t look past. We have loved renovating our 1920s home so far.
We also love being halfway between St Simons Beach and Jekyll and the quiet, slow pace of life down here. Downtown is growing. We’ve got a number of really good friends who live within a few blocks of us and there’s a bunch of young couples and families that live in SoGlo (South of Gloucester). Our friends just opened a brewery downtown, Silver Bluff (The NZ Rise IPA is killer) and we’ve got a great new spot that just re-opened 1 block from our house, the Yellow Deli (healthy alternative farm to table kind of breakfast/lunch spot). We’re just at an hour from Savannah and Jacksonville International, which is about the same as it was in Atlanta when you take traffic into account. We love international travel and have gotten great rates from both of these airports.
We like to think of the Golden Isles as a Goldilocks community- not too big, not too small. How was it starting a brand new company in a community our size?
I’ve been in the community on and off while I’ve traveled the world over the past 15 years. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the “locals,” who just happened to be doing some really cool things in the food and bev, retail, and e-commerce spaces.
I enjoy helping business leaders execute their vision online and bring great design and an outside perspective into how they choose to engage with people online. Everyone has to be online these days, so why not make it a beautiful and enjoyable experience for customers and business owners alike.
We just saw one of your client’s, The Vine, featured in a national publication- how did you connect with them as a client?
The Vine is a national event and landscape design firm, who my wife just happens to work for. They stared a new concept here locally and radically renovated a rundown set of duplexes around a central courtyard pool and turned them into designer AirBnB rentals.
I designed and developed their marketing website and helped deploy an integrated booking and marketing engine. The solution helped take the pain out of managing 5 boutique rentals remotely, year-round. It’s really cool to be part of a project that not only has great design but also be able to create a wonderful user experience for both guests and the staff managing the backend.
When you bring big skills to a small community, it can have a significant impact. During the pandemic, a lot of companies have been forced to innovate. Have you been able to work with any of these firms and help them move their business model online?
In a small town, lots of businesses have great business models and great customers, and many times just haven’t figured out how to expand their reach and service more people online to the extent they could. Pre-COVID, presenting their business online was a solid idea most business owners knew they should do something about; in this new economy, figuring out how to communicate your value online and get customers what they want efficiently (with less personal interaction) is no longer an option, it’s a must.
Setting up an integrated e-commerce solution to manage both your in-house and warehouse inventory, with integrated retail POS systems that allow you to market your product omnichannel is so much easier than it used to be.
Idea Lab has certainly been busy this year! When you get a break- how you and your wife like to relax?
We love biking and walking around historic Brunswick, it’s been really cool just checking out all the different houses and meeting our neighbors. We also love going to Jekyll – the beach there feels a bit less discovered than Saint Simons. Our life pre-pandemic involved a lot of international travel, so it’s been interesting adapting to a slower pace of life – a lot of nights you’ll find us on our front porch visiting ▪️
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