When Judy Hill’s son, Cameron, was in medical school, she learned that doctors couldn’t wear traditional silk neckties in many hospitals because they can harbor harmful bacteria. So she whipped up a machine-washable, all-cotton bow tie for him to wear instead. That simple, brilliant solution inspired her to start High Cotton, her own family-owned, hand-crafted bow tie company, in 2010. “With less than $10,000 we started our business and hit the ground running,” says son James, co-owner and vice president of sales.
“They search, we pop up, and they buy. It’s amazing.”
James Hill, Co-owner & VP of Sales
While Judy was making ties at their kitchen table, Cameron immediately created a website to sell her colorful ties online. “Our website is so important to our success that I tell people all the time that we are really an e-commerce company that just happens to sell bow ties,” James says. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to gain exposure and new customers. James also relies on Google Analytics to gain insights that help them keep their site fresh and relevant. “We eat breakfast and review Google Analytics each morning to make sure that we are on track,” he says. “It’s like the website is our heartbeat and I’m checking its vital stats.” The Google Apps for Work suite of tools, including products like Gmail and Google Drive, makes it easy for everyone to communicate and collaborate. Street View on Google Maps allows customers to get a feel for their Raleigh store before they visit. “The 360-degree photos in Street View have definitely gotten us some of our wholesale business, because it’s so much easier to actually show potential buyers who we are, instead of just telling them.”
250 retailers sell High Cotton’s ties.
Judy no longer sews bow ties at her kitchen table—a manufacturing partner handles that task now. But, she still designs two product lines a year, each with between 150 and 200 new items. The locally hand-cut and hand-sewn products support the revival of the North Carolina textile industry. Today, 50 percent of their revenue comes through the internet; Google is the primary driver of site traffic. “Google is really our business partner. We went from a yard of fabric to making more than a million dollars a year. It’s really the American dream.”
For more information on the High Cotton case study, visit http://economicimpact.google.com.
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