In 2010, commercial photographer Polina Osherov met with a group of local fashion designers, lamenting that Indianapolis didn’t have more of a fashion scene. It wasn’t for lack of creative talent. With Polina leading the charge, the group decided to ignite the region’s fashion industry themselves, launching a nonprofit aptly named PATTERN. Since their founding, PATTERN has evolved into a media company, creative agency, print magazine, talent incubator, and an economic development engine. “We have grown to embrace the creative economy overall, not just fashion, [including] all the digital and nontraditional art expressions—things that don't belong necessarily in an art museum or an orchestra,” she says. From the start, Google Ad Grants helped Polina spread the word, promoting the organization’s events, educational programs, and internships/fellowships, as well as advertising magazine subscriptions. Now, PATTERN has 35 employees, volunteers, and interns, and 2,050 members across the Midwest.
In March 2020, PATTERN opened StitchWorks, a sewing facility that provides production services to apparel designers. Weeks later, an area hospital asked Polina if her group could make gowns to meet the urgent need for PPE brought on by COVID-19. Her answer? “Hell, yes!” Polina hired 100 sewers to make 5,000 gowns—and counting. PATTERN’s Google Ads and Business Profile on Google helped put StitchWorks on the map. “We’re being found by independent designers who are looking to have things made, everything from leather bags to hoodies to pillowcases,” she says. “About 90 percent of our clients find us by searching on Google.” Though the pandemic closed down PATTERN’s in-person events, their sewing business remains brisk. In 2021, PATTERN plans to launch an industrial sewing certificate program to bring skilled workers into the local jobs pipeline. They’re also opening a virtual events studio. Says Polina, “We’re super excited to get back to doing events with our community.”
Jarhead Hauling and Junk Removal
Fort Wayne, Indiana
After serving in the Marine Corps for 22 years, Master Sergeant Donald Emert transitioned to the private sector, where he worked in sales and marketing for a number of companies. But when his wife, Vivian, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, he knew something had to change. “I wanted a better quality of life, and I didn’t want my wife to have to stress about her health condition,” said Donald. Donald and Vivian began looking for business ideas and found one in a place they didn’t expect: a pile of junk outside their house. “We had some junk and trash we had to haul away ourselves and thought maybe other people have the same problem,” Donald said. Once they had the idea, things moved quickly. They came up with a company name, bought their first truck and trailer, and launched a website. “We realized it was imperative to not just have a user-friendly website, but to be visible,” said Vivian, who had previous experience working in digital marketing. “We went to Google, put in our business name, and saw we were on page two. And that’s when the light bulb came on in both our heads — how do we get to page one?”
Jarhead Hauling and Junk Removal began running Google Ads campaigns in May 2018. “Our growth really came about when we started using Google Ads,” said Donald. “It was like a light switch. I went from hardly any phone calls to having to resign from the company I was working for at the time.” According to Vivian, 90% of the company’s business comes from Google Ads. Jarhead Hauling and Junk Removal also uses Google My Business to make it easy for customers to view its business hours and contact information. “Our success can be attributed to Google Ads and staying on top of our business profile on Google to make sure everything on there is relevant.”
With the help of Google Ads, Jarhead Hauling and Junk Removal saw 8X year-over-year revenue growth — and it shows no signs of slowing down. The Emerts recently added another branch in the nearby city of Lafayette and hope to open six more locations to be managed by other veterans. “We’ll pay for the ads and do the logos, and they’ll keep the majority of the profit,” said Donald. “We don’t want to get rich off them. We want to help them.” Today, the Emerts are happy to report that Vivian’s cancer is in remission as she continues to be an integral part of the company’s success. “When my wife and I started this business, our motivating factor was a better quality of life for our family, and it feels really good to say we’ve achieved that,” concluded Donald. “We want to do the same for other veterans.”
Richard Worsham and Devin Biek have long shared a passion for quality, lightweight motorcycles. “Our friendship is built on it. We both had been involved in that culture for years, restoring vintage mopeds,” Richard shares. After years of imagining their dream bike, the two decided to build one of their own. "We were just so captivated by the idea of building these little machines,” Devin says. Their first production model was the Halcyon 50, “a motorcycle unlike any other,” he describes. Time-tested style made the Halcyon an eye-catching machine, while its modern and lightweight design provided riders with a thrilling experience that was altogether unique in American bikes. Propelled by the support of their local community, the friends founded Janus Motorcycles in 2011 to share their craftsmanship with fans around the world.
Janus Motorcycles is unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers. They sell their bikes directly to customers online, instead of through a dealer network. “If you had given Henry Ford the opportunity to be online, with the marketing and exposure the Internet provides, I don't think he would’ve chosen to sell through dealerships either,” says Marketing Director Grant Longenbaugh. The company uses AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to market their bikes to motorcycle enthusiasts across the country. “About 50 percent of our online interest is driven by AdWords,” he adds. Google Analytics equips them with the digital insights to fine-tune their marketing and online presence. And through their YouTube channel, interested customers can follow every step of a Janus bike’s journey, from design, to prototyping, to production. “YouTube is the unsung hero of our business,” Grant explains. “It’s a substantial part of how people get to know us, feel a level of comfort with us, and trust us to make their motorcycles.”
Last year, about 90 percent of Janus’s marketing budget went to digital. The rest, Grant jokes, “was spent buying donuts and coffee to get people to come in for test drives.” The company now offers three different models and is on track to build 200 bikes this year. They make all of their fabricated parts within 20 miles of their facility and source their specialty parts, such as the engine and brakes, from the best suppliers they can find. “We’re committed to being open and personable, just as our motorcycles are accessible and understandable. That’s especially important since so much of our customer interaction is through virtual channels. If we’re successful, we’ll be able to maintain a meaningful and sincere brand as we continue to grow,” says Richard.
Weathervane Shoppe sells 800+ products annually
Borrowing $1,000 to buy their initial supplies, Nicholas Falletta and his wife began selling handcrafted weathervanes in 1986 from the back of a van at arts-and-crafts fairs and flea markets across Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Ten years later, they gradually shifted their sales focus from their van to the Internet. “Let's face it. If you're not on the Internet today, business would be lacking greatly in the future,” Nicholas says. Weathervane Shoppe got online very early and “was one of the first to ever sell weathervanes on the Internet.” Today they’ve expanded their business to over 1,400 unique products, including cupolas, roof vents, chimney caps, and finials. They manufacture custom designs in Indiana, work with vendors across the country, and sell to customers all throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Nicholas uses the Internet to share his products with consumers all across the continent. “The Internet has changed the face of retail by eliminating geographical barriers,” he explains. AdWords, Google's advertising program, accounts for about 50 percent of his sales. Google Analytics delivers valuable insights on his customer base—for instance, half of Weathervane Shoppe’s website traffic is from mobile devices. Google Search Console helps with monitoring the website's presence in Google Search results, and Gmail keeps him connected with vendors and customers. Thanks to all of these digital tools, Nicholas says he is able to offer customers “the most exceptional service they can possibly find from anybody.”
As an American entrepreneur, Nicholas has always known which way the wind was blowing for his unique small business. “Weathervane Shoppe was never meant to grow into one of those huge big-box stores with a bunch of employees,” he says. But the company has provided a great deal of customer satisfaction for over three decades and continues to create opportunities for vendors in Indiana and across the U.S. “For a semi-retired 71-year-old to have that kind of impact is amazing,” he adds. Nicholas has proudly sold weathervanes, cupolas, and other roof products to the children of his original customers. “And I expect I will be selling to their grandkids before I'm gone.”
School on Wheels
As a school social worker, Sally Bindley witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty and homelessness on children's ability to learn. "A lot of services focused on kids' social needs but weren't focusing on their educational needs," she says. After talking with staff at homeless shelters and advocacy agencies, Sally sprang into action. “I grabbed my mom and my best friend, and she grabbed her mom, and we went to a shelter and said, 'We can start tutoring your kids.' It grew organically from there." Sally founded the nonprofit School on Wheels in 2001 to connect volunteer tutors with children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. The organization has since grown to include over 400 volunteers who provide one-on-one tutoring for children grades K–12 in nine shelters and four public schools. They also equip parents to become their children's best educational advocates.
AdWords, Google's advertising program, has helped this nonprofit grow. "AdWords allows us to do a multitude of different things," says Sally, “such as finding volunteers, bringing in donations, and promoting our curriculum.” They also use Google Analytics to see where web visitors are coming from. And their YouTube channel includes tips for tutors on engaging children as well as videos to raise awareness about families experiencing homelessness. “People don't really realize that homelessness is a problem,” Sally explains. “Google tools help us reach more people and show them that this is an issue. The more people know, the more they’ll be part of the solution.”
School on Wheels today hopes to break the cycle of homelessness and “eventually go out of business” as a result of doing so. With numerous success stories of their students going on to college and pursuing rewarding careers, their hope is becoming more and more of a reality. “We’re really making a lasting impact on these children’s lives,” Sally remarks. Google helps Sally further that impact by enabling the organization to reach more volunteers, partners, and donors—and serve more children and families—while remaining a lean operation. “We couldn't do this using the phone and pieces of paper,” she says. “This could only happen through the use of technology.”