Branded Merchandise to Creative Expression: Becoming a Branding Boss


AS SEEN IN Forbes, Fortune & Entrepreneur

Stephanie Wineman’s intrepid nature has elevated branded merchandise from mere products to full-on creative expressions.

“There was an opportunity in the fitness industry,” she recalls. “The only way to be competitive was to do it on my own, so I took the risk, and it paid off.”

Collaborating with a production company to create and provide complementary fitness gifts with DVD purchases, Wineman founded GACO Sourcing in 2008 and grew her business organically, soon forging relationships with some of the health and fitness world’s biggest players.

Today, GACO, for which Wineman serves as CEO, stands as a leading provider of branded merchandise for a number of industries, from healthcare to automotive and everything in between. Its range of products has expanded since the company’s founding, but the philosophy fueling GACO’s team hasn’t budged.

“Our company was created from the ground up by some of the most creative, innovative, and experienced women in the industry to help clients succeed,” Wineman shares.

Creating a Company Culture

A wholly woman-owned company certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, GACO has built a culture of collaboration and creativity to foster empowerment and continual growth—the butterfly in its logo symbolizing this spirit well.

“We work together on our clients’ products, but we also support one another,” says Wineman. “It’s a team spirit, and we want to see everyone succeed.”

The intensive nature of GACO’s business serves to encourage the team’s prioritization of mental and physical health. Holding meetings outdoors, advocating for workouts during lunch, and having fourlegged coworkers in the office daily are a few ways Wineman has crafted a balanced work environment, which in turn spurs the creativity of her venerated team.

“We work hard,” she assures, “but we laugh even harder.”

Going Beyond

GACO’s internal culture flows naturally into its long-standing relationships with clients. The team recognizes the influence branded merchandise can have, whether being shared as promotional products at tradeshows or acting as gratitude gifts for exceptional employees. Further, GACO sees tremendous value in aligning clients with products that suit their identities.

“In order to deliver a brand’s message, you have to understand the company’s personality,” says Wineman. “When you take time to listen, you can create a product that represents who they are and that they’re proud to share.” Quality and care pervade every product GACO produces and every relationship the team forms, tenets Wineman established early in the company’s founding.

The weight of building her own successful business is not lost on Wineman, who points to the GACO team as a source for her incessant drive. “Our team thinks outside the box to create pieces that represent our clients,” she says. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

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