Albuquerque, New Mexico
When Sydney Alfonso spent a semester studying abroad in Istanbul, she worked with a woman’s cooperative that helped local artisans sell their handmade jewelry. When the program ended, Sydney returned to her home state of New Mexico with a desire to help empower indigenous women. “The situation here was similar to my experience in Turkey. There were women struggling on Native American reservations but who were capable of making these beautiful things,” she said. In 2014, Sydney launched Etkie, an ethical, for-profit company that gives Native American women a platform to earn living wages and provide for their families. “There’s a lot of trauma — historical and cultural — in these communities,” Sydney said. Etkie, which means “impact” in Turkish, offers handcrafted jewelry that blends traditional craftsmanship with modern design. “I was a super-green entrepreneur when I started this, but that was also a blessing in disguise because I had to figure everything out myself,” said Sydney.
Etkie began as a B2B wholesale business and has since expanded to online sales. “Five years ago, there weren’t as many successful direct-to-consumer companies,” said Sydney. “By building our wholesale side, we’ve had more of a profit margin to invest in digital, and we’re just starting on that journey.” In an effort to ramp up Etkie’s direct-to-consumer efforts, Sydney started running different ads on YouTube and Google Search to better understand her customers. “Google helps us look at who is interested in buying our products,” Sydney said. “By being able to see what resonates on a large scale, it’s easier to home in on what messaging is working and what is getting clicks.”
Available in seven countries around the globe, Etkie produces about 5,000 bracelets per year. Since 2017, the company has grown 30%
year over year. Sydney also cites a 10% increase in sales coming from digital, thanks to her advertising efforts with Google. As Etkie continues to grow, Sydney remains true to the inspiration that launched Etkie — helping women support themselves and celebrating their creativity. “Our business encourages people to pay for craftsmanship and acknowledge our artisans,” she said. “We’ve fostered a group of consumers who really care about where they buy their products and the actual impact it has on the community.”
Jersey City, New Jersey
After working at a digital marketing agency for three years, Freddy Carrera decided to take the leap and start his own firm in 2013. “I had picked up a lot of experience in design, web development, and marketing,” he explains. “I figured it was a great time and opportunity to start the business.” Novofex’s first “office” was Freddy’s apartment in Paterson, New Jersey. “It started off as a one-man operation, just calling on small businesses,” he recalls. When Novofex began expanding outside the state, Freddy brought on a former colleague, Allister Liberato, to help with the startup. Within six months, the duo had outgrown Freddy’s apartment and moved to a proper office in Jersey City.
Novofex turned to G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive, to manage their growing workload. “As a startup, I don’t see any other business tools out there that are as useful and as user-friendly as Google tools,” Freddy says. “I would definitely recommend other entrepreneurs to jump on Google tools. For everything digital, I find it to be the cornerstone.” The company also earmarks virtually their entire marketing budget to digital because of its flexibility and reach. “What would have been a $10,000 billboard spend, you can split in many different and more impactful ways on a digital budget,” Freddy says. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to reach potential new customers, and Google Analytics to measure and optimize their ad campaigns. The digital focus has paid off: Novofex grew nearly 50 percent in their first year and has grown steadily since then, now serving over 400 customers a year.
Novofex is using their success to make a positive impact on their local community, particularly by forging a hiring pipeline with nearby colleges and universities. “We’ve been able to foster really good relationships with the local universities, recruit talent from there, and create opportunities in Jersey City,” Freddy says. Given the nature of their work, Novofex is also helping to grow the businesses that use their digital-marketing services. “We are proud to serve Hudson County,” Freddy shares. “Small businesses are the backbone of North New Jersey, so being able to help them get discovered in a highly populated area, grow, and hire more people is rewarding. It isn’t just Freddy in his apartment anymore. It’s more than that.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dreamstyle Remodeling began offering remodeling services in 1989, installing window, bath, kitchen, and other fixtures from major U.S. manufacturers. The business grew steadily from their original base in Albuquerque to multiple locations across the Southwest, including Santa Fe, Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Boise, and San Diego. For years, their primary customers were baby boomers, but Founder and CEO Larry Chavez realized that if he wanted to continue growing the business, he would need to start connecting with a younger generation of customers entering the home-buying and remodeling markets. He hired Dawn Dewey as marketing director in 2013. From that point, “we really got heavily into digital,” Dawn says.
Today, over 25 percent of Dreamstyle’s revenue is generated through the Internet. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to market their services to customers across the U.S., and they’re seeing handsome returns. “It costs us about $100 on AdWords to earn $1,000,” Larry remarks. Google Analytics helps to see which advertising campaigns are working, what content is engaging, and if they need to alter their marketing. Google My Business listings allow them to take customers on a 360-degree virtual tour of their showrooms. G Suite tools like Calendar, Docs, and Drive keep their internal operations running smoothly. And YouTube provides a platform for sharing testimonials from satisfied customers. All this successful digital branding, Larry says, “is not only good for selling products, it’s good for recruiting people, which of course is our top priority.”
Since shifting to digital, Dreamstyle has added 250 employees to keep pace with their growth. In their 28 years of business, they’ve served 60,000 customers, and a quarter of them are from the past four years alone. “Google gave us the tools to make our marketing stronger and more sophisticated, which accelerated our growth,” Dawn says. They are growing 34 percent annually and expect to hit $100 million in sales this year. With plans to open two additional locations, they have their sights set on reaching $250 million by 2020 and hiring another 500 people in the process. “We think it's possible,” Larry assures. “And the web and Google tools are going to be critical to that growth."
Paws and Stripes
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lindsey Stanek’s husband, Jim, came home with injuries from his third tour in Iraq. Like so many combat veterans, he suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While in treatment, Jim was comforted by therapy dogs. But a trained service dog costs $10,000 to $60,000. The former soldier felt alone until he found Sarge—a shelter dog he trained as his service dog. His life was transformed and he saw an opportunity. He and Lindsey wanted to help other veterans while giving shelter dogs a purpose. The couple founded Paws and Stripes in 2010. Their mission: rescue and train shelter dogs as service dogs for wounded military veterans in New Mexico.
From the start, Google has helped them build their brand and operate the organization. Most of the traffic to their site comes from Google Search. Their Google My Business listing displays their hours, directions, and reviews. They use social media, including YouTube, to engage veterans in discussion and share resources. Google Apps for Work, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs, help volunteers coordinate efforts. Veterans don't pay a dime to enroll in the service, which is supported by grants and donations, so the website is mobile-optimized to make it as easy as possible for site visitors to make donations from any device.
Paws and Stripes now has 14 employees. They’ve been featured in Time magazine and were the subject of an A&E reality TV series, Dogs of War. Google tools have helped increase their visibility in the U.S. and internationally, which is helping Paws and Stripes raise awareness about PTSD and the value of enlisting shelter dogs to be trained to assist veterans. They’ve accomplished their original mission, but their success in New Mexico now has them considering expanding to other states. “We want to increase our impact in more veterans' lives,” Lindsey says. “That's what we are about."