BRAZEN is honored to be recognized as a finalist in the 2016 Nevada Business Magazine Family Owned Business Awards “Swimming Upstream” category, for businesses that are owned by minorities or women.
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BRAZEN ARCHITECTURE: COMMITTED TO COMMUNITY
Monica Gresser, owner and founder of Brazen Architecture Inc., has a passion for helping the southern Nevada community. Her firm was a recent finalist for the Nevada Business Magazine’s Family Owned Business Awards in the “Swimming Upstream” category, for businesses that are owned by minorities or women.
Gresser said she never intended to be an entrepreneur, and was happy working for a southern Nevada firm helping design schools and other public projects. But when the recession hit and money for public projects dried up, her plans had to change. After freelancing for a while, she decided to start her own architecture firm in 2011. “It wasn’t my plan to be a business owner,” she explained, “but it turns out that I like it. I can do the jobs I want and also do community work.”
She decided on the name Brazen for her company to brand herself as “boldly pursuing” sustainable, environmentally responsible designs for the community. “All my grandparents were farmers and ranchers,” said Gresser, who grew up near the Gulf Coast of Texas. “They re-used everything, even plastic bread sacks, and composted what they couldn’t re-use. That’s where I come from.” At one of her first jobs, she wrote a plan on how the architecture firm could be more “green,” including shifting from paper plans to digital. Her ideas were later written up in a professional journal.
Gresser’s husband, Shawn, is a stage manager for the Blue Man Group. In addition to helping his wife develop the firm’s project checklists, he assists with website design and social media, and helps point her toward projects that fit her passion for community betterment.
Brazen has done tenant improvements for several clients, including Variety Early Learning Center Las Vegas, where Gresser was the architect for a 24,000-square-foot tenant improvement. She also worked on upgrading Veterans Village, a transitional housing facility for veterans, providing guidance on construction details for upgrades, including new air conditioning, roof renovations, and garden space.
Her firm developed the architectural concepts for a non-profit that is planning to build a facility for recuperative and transitional care for sick or injured homeless people. “When patients are discharged from the hospital, they are usually sent home for rest and recuperation,” she explained. “What if you don’t have a home to go to? You can’t rest and recover lying on the sidewalk. This will provide a safe place for them to heal, and hopefully help them get off the streets for good.”
Continuing her work for the homeless, last year she participated in the Corridor of Hope project for the City of Las Vegas Homelessness Advisory Committee. She provided sketches and plans to improve Foremaster Lane near downtown, where many homeless services are located. Another passion is affordable/workforce housing and diversified neighborhoods, and she looks for projects that can help southern Nevada improve in that area.
Gresser said her main challenge, like many entrepreneurs, is finding work. “Even though I have a large focus on community design, I still want to do commercial work, because that will keep my firm relevant,” she said. “And it’s useful for neighborhoods as well. Disadvantaged neighborhoods need grocery stores, shops, and other resources if they’re going to become stable.”
Gresser’s office is located not far from downtown Las Vegas, and she banks at Nevada State Bank’s Bridger Branch on Las Vegas Boulevard. “Every time I go there, the service is awesome,” she said. “When I was with a big bank, they didn’t seem to care about my business because it wasn’t a million dollar company. But at Nevada State Bank, I’m treated like I’m important enough to talk to. Bernard [Bermudez, Small Business Relationship Manager] says I can build up to that million-dollar business, and always asks if there’s anything he can do to help me reach that goal.”
Nevada State Bank congratulates Monica Gresser and Brazen Architecture for their recognition at the Family Owned Business awards, which the bank sponsored, and also for their commitment to bettering the southern Nevada community.