50% of our online traffic comes from Google organic search.”Chris Hughes
When Chris Hughes lost his job during the Great Recession, he found himself re-evaluating what he could do to make a living. Drawing on his passion for vintage military style and utilitarian design, Chris started Artifact Bags in his basement studio in 2010. Using a secondhand sewing machine, he began making bags, aprons, and accessories from domestically sourced fabric and hardware. Chris quickly launched an e-commerce website and began selling his products on other e-commerce platforms. “I read pretty much every business book I could get my hands on so I could understand all the operational aspects of scaling a business,” said Chris. But it wasn’t until one of his bags was reviewed on two popular websites that business really started to take off. “I immediately received hundreds of orders, and while that was great, I realized I needed to figure out how I could fully capitalize on this opportunity,” he said.
At first, Artifact Bags relied on word of mouth to drive customers to its website. “I had an ‘if you build this, they will come’ approach,” said Chris. While Chris received press from his approach, he had to make sure his website was visible to people searching for his bags, so he turned to Google for help with search engine optimization. Products like Google Search Console and Google Analytics helped him measure organic search traffic and website performance — both of which he still uses today. “50% of our online traffic comes from Google organic search,” Chris said. The Artifact Bags team also relies on G Suite apps like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive to collaborate and stay organized.
Since opening, Artifact Bags has grown more than 20% year over year, and Chris plans to launch a dedicated apron site this year. With Artifact Aprons, Chris plans to use Google Ads to reach people who are searching for aprons or similar items. “Digital marketing has become much more sophisticated in the last several years,” said Chris. “We can tailor our message to the individual.” As his company continues to grow, Chris is looking forward to donating more of his products and profits to charitable causes. He is proud of overcoming unemployment and being able to provide jobs for others. “It blows me away to see all these talented artisans that we’ve been able to bring into the fold,” said Chris. “We feel really proud that we’ve been able to go against the grain and create this thing that we put our hearts and souls into.”