Fast Growing Trees Fort Mill, South Carolina
Fast Growing Trees
Fort Mill, South Carolina
“So many Internet searches happen every day. You have to be there for people to see you.”Justin French, Director of E-commerce70% of Fast Growing Trees’ customers come via Google.link www.fast-growing-trees.comA tree-loving North Carolina family started selling Royal Empress trees (the world’s fastest growing tree) in 2005. At the time it was more of a hobby than a business, one they operated from their back yard. But sales and their product offerings soon multiplied. Marketing shifted from flyers and direct mail to the Internet. By the time they moved to a large rural property in South Carolina in 2013, the aptly named Fast Growing Trees was a thriving enterprise. “It’s a family-run business, small, but very high-quality,” says Justin French, Director of E-commerce. Today they sell over 500 types of trees and plants to customers across the United States.
The thriving business relies on AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “It's definitely the number one driver of customers to our website and it has been since the day we launched,” Justin says. “We get a really great return on investment with AdWords.” They also depend on Google Analytics to gain online customer insights that help them keep the website effective, especially for visitors using mobile devices. “If we don't know what’s going on with our customers on our website, we can't improve,” Justin adds. “Those insights help us to give them an even better experience when they come back.” A YouTube channel and integrating videos directly into their website lets them share short educational videos about trees with their customers. “In the beginning days of the Internet it was just pictures, but now with video we can tell a richer story,” he explains.
From three original family members, Fast Growing Trees has grown to over 150 employees. All of their trees are grown in America, with nursery partners across the country offering varieties that don’t thrive in the Southeast. But the biggest rewards of all come at home in rural South Carolina. “There used to be lots of textile mills here, but those largely have moved overseas,” Justin says. “So being able to offer employment to some of the people around this area is something we take pride in.”70% of Fast Growing Trees’ customers come via Google.link www.fast-growing-trees.com
Beija-Flor Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
“We would not be in business without the Internet. I don’t know that it was possible before the Internet to do so much with so little.”Emilie Whitaker, Co-founder & CEO400 specialty stores carry their jeanslink www.beijaflorjeans.comLike many American women, Emilie Whitaker and her mother, Kathy Moça, were frustrated when they couldn’t seem to find jeans that fit them properly. Emilie’s father is from Brazil, and both mother and daughter loved visiting the country. “We discovered that Brazil not only has high-quality denim, but the way they cut their jeans really flatters a woman’s curves,” Emilie says. In 2005, she and Kathy founded Beija-Flor (hummingbird in Portuguese) in Greenville, to offer a line of Brazilian-made jeans to women just like them. The Internet was key to building their brand and national reputation.
”I was still living in Washington, D.C., my mom was living in South Carolina, and we just started communicating over the Internet, sharing concepts and ideas,” Emilie says. The pair started Beija-Flor from Kathy’s dining room, and Emilie’s husband later launched them on AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “We could run ads like ‘jeans for curvy girls,’ or for very specific things like ‘Brazilian jeans’ or ‘no-gap jeans,’” Emilie says. “We were able to reach people who were actually looking for us.” The Google ads gave Beija-Flor an advantage, she believes, “because fashion was kind of slow to adopt digital.” The company also uses Google Apps for Work to collaborate internally and with retailers. “Google is basically our help desk and internal IT department,” Emilie says.
Beija-Flor is growing every year. They sell jeans in an online store and via Google Shopping. They also have a flagship store in Greenville and a presence in hundreds of stores nationwide. It can all get a little heady—a People StyleWatch editor once wrote that the jeans had changed her life. “People in airports must think we’re looking at their bottoms,” Emilie says with a laugh. “But we’re just checking for Beija-Flors walking by!”
400 specialty stores carry their jeanslink www.beijaflorjeans.com