Missouri Star Quilt Company Hamilton, Missouri
Missouri Star Quilt Company
“The Internet let us build a business that's changed our town and changed our family.”Al Doan, Founder & CEOMissouri Star Quilt Company has 250 employees.link www.missouriquiltco.comAl Doan and his sister, Sarah Galbraith, bought their mother, Jenny, a long-arm quilting machine as a way for her to make a bit of extra money during the economic downturn of 2008. This led them to eventually forming a company to sell quilting supplies and offer machine-quilting services. “We've always been a little bit entrepreneurial, but we'd never started a business before,” Al says. They soon opened a store in their rural town. “You open a store in a town of 1,500 people and get all 1,500 to come, but that's where it ends,” he says. “You think, all right, what else can we do?”
The family launched a website and considered what came next. “Quilting is challenging, because you can't just go advertise on a quilting channel,” Al says. So they turned to Google products to reach people outside of their city limits. They created their own YouTube channel, where Jenny (a.k.a. Momma Doan) began hosting video quilting tutorials that transformed her into an online star. “She’s sweet, right?” Al asks. “She’s pretty awesome, a ham.” And clearly YouTube viewers agreed, as the success of Missouri Star Quilt Company has surpassed their wildest dreams. They now have more than 300 videos on their YouTube channel and they consistently see more than 100% growth in their business year-over-year. Ninety-five percent of their sales are through their website and they use Google Analytics to track sales and measure the effectiveness of their marketing. The growing business relies on Google Apps for Work to keep employees connected through products like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
Missouri Star Quilt Company now is the largest employer in their rural county. They ship thousands of packages every day to customers around the world. Tour buses filled with quilters sometimes pull up outside the shop, which has become an international quilting destination. Perhaps best of all, in 2015 the U.S. Small Business Administration named Al and his sister the National Small Business Persons of the Year. Neither could quite believe it when they visited the White House for the ceremony. “How are we here? How is this our life?” Al occasionally wonders. “But every now and then, you think, wait a minute, we actually built something pretty impressive.”Missouri Star Quilt Company has 250 employees.link www.missouriquiltco.com
Caroline Leemis Design Columbia, Missouri
Caroline Leemis Design
“If your dream job doesn’t exist, go out there and create it.”Caroline Leemis, Owner & Interior Designer300% growth in 2014link www.carolineleemisdesign.comCaroline Leemis graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2009 with a clear passion for design and a tough job market waiting for her. Armed with a degree in interior design and a background in commercial construction (she grew up around her dad’s contracting business), she struggled to find work in her field. So she started a blog to explore her unique interest in healthcare design. Little did she know it would get noticed by healthcare design professionals. Three years down the road she had the opportunity to go out on her own, so she decided to run with it. Her prowess in building a web presence proved critical to Caroline’s success.
The blog that jumpstarted Caroline Leemis Design LLC was powered by Blogger, Google’s custom blogging platform. To complement networking with people in the community, “having a website to direct them back to me was really beneficial,” Caroline says. The Internet helped her build momentum in that first year. “It gave me a spot to display my work and talk about projects as I was working on them, and still does.” She handles most of her marketing on her own. Through her website, Google+ page, and Google Maps listing, she uses the Internet to create buzz and get exposure from potential clients. "This all would have been harder and much more expensive 15 years ago", she says, “especially since I’m a fairly new business and don’t have a large advertising budget.”
Caroline’s business enjoyed a stellar year in 2014—a far cry from 2009. “Having a website out there, I’ve gotten several calls from press and publications,” she says. She now uses Google Alerts to keep up with her press coverage, which included being named one of Columbia Business Times’ “20 Under 40.” As she continues to grow, Caroline aims to make a bigger impact on the local community through stronger ties between design, company branding, and sustainability.300% growth in 2014link www.carolineleemisdesign.com