Tim and Cindy Tyler travel the backroads of Mississippi to curate the best handmade foods, art, and home decor that their home state has to offer. The result is The Mississippi Gift Company, their labor of love and pride. The couple got the idea for the shop in 1993, when they were newly married. “We borrowed our brother-in-law’s camera and shot our first catalog of locally made goods,” Tim recalls. “The response from Mississippians and displaced Mississippians was overwhelming.” Since then, they’ve expanded from 20 items to over 750, and from three suppliers to 150—all in Mississippi and thoughtfully curated through Cindy’s aesthetic lens.
In addition to a retail location, they sell their products online, which lets them, as Cindy says, “offer to the rest of the world hidden treasures that can be found nowhere else.” They got on the Internet relatively early, creating their first website in 1997. They’ve been using AdWords, Google’s advertising program, for so long that the couple can’t remember exactly what year they started. They also use Google Analytics to measure their web traffic and make informed business decisions. “Google products allow us to discover new customers, expand our customer list, and grow sales,” Cindy says. Working day-to-day operations in G Suite tools Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar, she also believes that Google helps them “be more efficient with internal processes,” so they can ultimately reach more people.
Based in a small city of about 16,000 people, The Mississippi Gift Company is a hub of art and culture for the local area. Because of their online presence, that culture now reaches far beyond state lines. “By marketing our goods through retail and on our website, we’ve been able to provide an outlet for countless artists, entrepreneurs, and producers from all across the state,” says Cindy. “This relationship is mutually beneficial. It helps local artisans get more exposure to a wider market while also significantly contributing to their income.” For everyone involved—the artisans, entrepreneurs, and customers themselves—The Mississippi Gift Company offers a unique opportunity for Mississippians to share “an expression of who they are.”