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Following in her Family’s Footsteps

When Sara Irvani took over her family’s shoemaking business, Okabashi, she was determined to maintain the consistent quality of Okabashi’s products while ushering the company into the digital age. In 1984, when Irvani’s grandfather started the business, about 60% of all shoes sold in the country were made in the U.S. Now, it’s closer to 1%. 

Irvani recognized Okabahsi’s unique position as one of the few remaining American-made footwear brands and set up Google Shopping campaigns targeting customers looking to purchase “made in USA” footwear. Using Google Analytics and the company’s Google Business Profile, Okabashi has been able to monitor the effectiveness of its ads through web traffic, customer reviews, and identifying areas to improve its products. Irvani and her team also use Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to build brand awareness and engage with customers. Okabashi’s Shopify-enhanced website, CRM software, and Google Workspace tools make selling products directly to customers more manageable.

When the COVID-19 pandemic presented increased challenges for retail businesses across the country, these digital tools proved vital.

“The digital side of the business was important for ensuring sales could continue during quarantine and proved essential for communicating with our customers,” said Irvani. “I was determined to find a way to make sure that Okabashi could become a fourth-generation company. That’s why I was particularly grateful to have digital tools that allowed us to survive a pandemic and come out so well positioned afterward.”

As Congress considers legislation that may negatively impact the availability of these digital platforms, Irvani’s story reminds lawmakers to consider how family businesses that lean on these tools will be affected.

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