Businessman Moves From Hair to 'Operation Destination'
Gregory Brady strives to make Dunedin a place of limitless growth.
In the early years of operating his salon, Gregory Brady teamed with a group of fellow downtown Dunedin merchants to organize a special event they hoped would attract visitors to the downtown streets. The result was Mardi Gras, which is now an annual gala that brings more than 15,000 people to downtown Dunedin.
The success of that first Mardi Gras in 1992 led to the creation of the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association, an organization for which Brady is president. The inaugural Mardi Gras also sparked Brady's interest in spearheading more special events.
“Merchants all around downtown noticed an immediate increase of business after the first Mardi Gras,” Brady said. “That was attributed to the fact that people were discovering downtown Dunedin and if they did not attend Mardi Gras, they likely wouldn’t have known the businesses were here.”
Brady has played a role in a myriad of special events in Dunedin over the years. He has served as a key figure in coordinating the annual Mardi Gras (March 8 from 5 to 11 p.m., this year) and Dunedin Wines the Blues (a yearly festival held in November). As the owner of Gregory’s Salon, he performed the styling of hair and makeup for brides, but he also planned and executed multiple weddings from beginning to end. Local politicians have hired him to implement fundraisers, and he has also organized an array of multicultural events like Bar Mitzvahs and Quincineras.
A passion for special events led Brady to sell Gregory’s Salon (now Main Street Hair) last December to devote his attention to Brady Karlin Events, a Dunedin company he operates with his business partner, Lou Anne Karlin. Brady Karlin conceptualizes and implements a wide range of events ranging from weddings, corporate events, non-profit functions, political fundraisers, multicultural galas and milestone events.
Brady and Karlin started the company in 2010 and had a debut event, a fundraiser for Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala. A future “soft launch” event will feature a wedding showcase with vendors and brides this spring.
The Brady Karlin office is located at Beso Del Sol Resort in Dunedin, where Karlin is the general manager. Functions are held in the facilities there, including the penthouse, the banquet facility and the outside deck area. The company is developing relationships with Dunedin venues to host events.
“Dunedin is blessed with many remarkable places to host events, like a waterfront wedding at the new Weaver Park, a church wedding at historic Andrews Memorial Chapel and an elaborate event at Our Lady of Lourdes’ Conmy Center,” Brady said. “We partner with places like Casa Tina’s, Chic-a-Boom Room, The Living Room and Bon Appetit Restaurant for dinners.
“Cooperation is the key to big picture success for businesses,” Brady added. “For example, at Beso Del Sol, we send people to the Chic-a-Boom Room for martinis and they send people to us if customers are looking for a place to stay on the water.”
Brady has long been an enthusiast of networking and civic involvement. He is still president of the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association and is an instrumental figure in the emergence of downtown Dunedin as a popular destination.
“Downtown Dunedin is composed of privately owned businesses. There is no corporate presence, so it is important that we have an identity, which we have created with the eclectic shops and special events,” Brady explained. “The key is getting everyone to recognize that the events help the downtown as a whole.
“Sometimes, business owners tend to look at the direct impact. What does this do for me? It is better to recognize that if there is a major draw to downtown Dunedin, everyone is going to be positively impacted,” Brady added. “If you have a successful business in an unsuccessful area, it is a challenge for it to grow. If you are located in a thriving area, the growth is limitless.”
With his partnership in Brady Karlin Events, Brady will continue to promote downtown Dunedin – and the whole city – as a destination for events big and small.
“My involvement in coordinating special events and being a part of civic organizations has bolstered my business over years,” Brady said. “As an entrepreneur and a business owner, it pays to be proactive, involved and see the big picture.”