Monday, February 24, 2014

Ada Business, Weave Got Maille, Uses Broadband Tools to Grow Business

In less than two years of being in business, Edie Ramstad has established customers in 56 countries for her rapidly growing manufacturing business, Weave Got Maille.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without broadband,” Edie said.

Her jewelry supply manufacturing facility is located on the outskirts of Ada, population 1,707, next to corn and soybean fields. 

She came to the community in 2011 when she married a local farmer, leaving behind a bricks-and-mortar store in South Dakota.

With the spirit of a true entrepreneur, and a desire to create jobs for local people, Edie decided to launch a manufacturing business in Ada.  She did her due diligence, wrote a business plan, opened her business, and began production in January, 2012. Little did she know that she would quickly blow her plan’s projections out of the water. “Within just six weeks,” Edie said, “we surpassed the fifth-year goal from our business plan.”

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of believing simply that “if I build it, they will come.” Edie took a different path, leaving nothing to chance or circumstance and exemplifying best practices in E-commerce.  Chief among her strategies are a commitment to keeping her website fresh and current, and capitalizing on the power of social media marketing. Edie emphasizes the importance of her business website, stating that “without a doubt, it has provided the most value” of all the broadband tools they have used.  The Weave Got Maille website has helped build an international customer base that simply would not have been possible using traditional sales and marketing methods.

The tool that has provided the second greatest impact on her business has been Facebook.  Through Facebook, she has been able to reach further and deeper. The business has done a couple of movie sets, Jersey Boys (a Broadway show) and is currently  doing some work for Game of Thrones (an HBO television drama). Social media has played a large role in making these connections with the entertainment industry.  According to Edie, “it starts with somebody seeing something they like, asking ‘where did you find that,’ and on it goes.”  An example is Jersey Boys, which is using Weave Got Maille kits for its jewelry. The show found the kits on Facebook, where a cast member saw it on a friend’s Facebook timeline.

Her business has established a niche market for itself and has quickly become the premier manufacturer and supplier of jewelry-making supplies in the United States and 55 other countries.  Edie believes that she has been able to achieve this scope due to the quality and the vast array of colors Weave Got Maille produces.  While her supplies can be used by anyone who makes jewelry, her focus is on the chain maille industry, producing supplies for custom creations, fine jewelry, renaissance jewelry, and the film industry. 

Her products start out as plain wire on spools.  It then goes through several processes—coloring, coiling, cutting, sorting, and packaging.  The final products are high-quality jump rings in a rainbow of colors.  She sells the jump rings in packages.  In addition, she sells a variety of jewelry findings in a choice of metals (copper, niobium, or sterling silver) and kits that include everything needed to make a specific piece of jewelry.

Weave Got Maille currently employs twelve people. In addition to the twelve employees, the company contracts a web designer and has plans to contract a part-time social media director in the near future. In describing the impact that broadband has had on her business, Edie said that it had increased the scope of her market, helped gain more customers, increased her profits, and made her business more efficient.  She also stated that it has led to the creation of more jobs in her community.

Other broadband tools that have provided value to her business include: Wrike, a cloud-based project management software; Constant Contact, an online email marketing tool; and Endicia, a cloud-based shipping software that processes shipping labels and integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks.

Edie is a strong proponent for broadband.  “Without the broadband spectrum, we couldn’t do this in Ada,” she said. “Broadband has enabled me to live here—where I want to live—and have an international business.”

Note:  This piece has been excerpted from a recently released study of business broadband use in northwest Minnesota.  Click here for a copy of the full study.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IMPACT 20/20 Releases Study on Business Broadband Use

IMPACT 20/20 Business Broadband Study

The IMPACT 20/20 Taskforce for Broadband and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation recently released a study on business broadband use within northwest Minnesota.
There were two reasons the study was seen as important: (1) the taskforce wanted a better understanding of the role broadband is currently playing among the region's businesses; and (2) they wanted to identify best practices currently being used, and subsequently, to share those best practices with the broader business community.
In sharing the information, the hope of the taskforce is that individual businesses within the region will be inspired to try new methods that others have found to be effective and that policy makers will be reminded of the important role broadband plays in northwest Minnesota's rural economy. Read more...