“The Internet has completely transformed how our business sells products.”Jonathan Hartley
Jonathan Hartley’s parents founded Carousel Designs in 1988, manufacturing and selling baby bedding to other retailers. As the cut and sew industry moved overseas, Jonathan realized that the family business would need to innovate in order to stay competitive. “We needed to create a high-quality brand, where we could justify a price point that would allow us to continue making our products in the U.S.,” he says. “We also needed to go direct-to-consumer to save on margins.” After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Jonathan approached his friend and former classmate, Allan Sicat, with a business proposal. “Let's transform Carousel Designs and take it to the masses. Let's offer it up to the entire country," he said. The two bought the company in 2007. Leah Sicat, Allan’s wife and fellow West Point graduate, signed on a few years later to help take their digital marketing to the next level.
Carousel Designs now offers thousands of custom nursery decor options, as well as pre-designed bedding collections, to consumers across the U.S. and Canada. Their website features an interactive tool that lets expectant parents design and visualize their own unique nursery. And AdWords, Google’s advertising program, “allows us to connect with customers in various parts of the buying process, from when they first learn about our products to when they make their purchase,” explains Jonathan. “It plays an integral role in the buying cycle.” The team also uses Google Analytics every day to better understand their online traffic, improve web content, and optimize ad campaigns. “We realized the importance of having e-commerce and mobile components early on, and made it a priority to build a strong online presence,” Allan says.
When Jonathan and Allan purchased Carousel Designs, “business was on the decline,” Jonathan recalls. “We were down to four employees.” Today they have around 70, most of whom are Douglas County natives. “It’s something we’re very proud of,” Allan adds, “not only being made in the USA, but also being able to create these opportunities right here in Douglasville.” To date, the company has served over a million customers, and they support a nonprofit that throws baby showers for military families. “The secret to our success is innovation,” says Leah. “Don’t stay the same, keep innovating, and give customers what they want. When you do all those things and experience growth, then you’ll be able to create jobs and give back to the communities that are important to you.”