“The Internet plays a big role in helping us build a loyal following.”Lauren Stokes
Founder & CEO
Inspiration can strike at any moment. For Lauren Stokes, a registered nurse, it struck while on maternity leave after the birth of her first child. “I was sketching dresses for fun and discovered a real love for designing clothing,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to give up on this passion.” In 2013, Lauren left her job and founded Lauren James, a combination of her and her son’s names. Offering classically-inspired clothing with a modern flair, the business has grown from a small family shop to one of the fastest-growing companies in Arkansas. “We started with t-shirts and dresses. Now we offer everything from activewear to custom-made bridesmaid dresses. All made right here in the U.S.,” Lauren says proudly.
From the first stitch, Lauren James has always used the Internet as their digital runway. Their e-commerce website features stylish photos of hundreds of eye-catching products. They attract fashionable customers from across North America and Europe using AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “AdWords is huge for us. About 90 percent of our digital advertising budget in 2017 went to Google ads,” Lauren explains. “We have a very loyal following, and we use these ads to win a strong conversion rate with them.” The company also uses fun and instructional YouTube videos to showcase their new seasonal lines. “We do videos for all of our launches and sneak peeks,” Lauren says. To keep their online storefront running at peak performance, they turn to Google Analytics as the “one source of truth” for optimizing their online presence and keeping web traffic flowing smoothly through checkout.
With an annual growth rate of 30 percent, Lauren James shows no signs of slowing down. They run two brick-and-mortar locations, serve over 250,000 customers each year, and operate a state-of-the-art inventory warehouse in Fayetteville. For Lauren, however, success is measured in people, not dollars. She works with local teenagers to help them pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship. “We take mentorship very seriously here, because we ourselves have had such amazing mentors,” she shares. To the young entrepreneurs who follow in her footsteps, Lauren reminds them to not be afraid to try. “A lot of time is wasted thinking that your ideas or passions could never work,” she says. “But it can—especially with all of the digital tools and resources that are available today. You just have to be willing to try.”