SiteDart Hosting is nestled away in the beautiful Western North Carolina Mountains. Complete with a picturesque background some people dream of for a lifetime, it is a combination of our surroundings, the people we come in contact with, and our roots to the area that make coming to work everyday a breeze.
SiteDart got its start in Macon County in 1995 when owner Phil Drake wanted to further expand his business reach in his hometown. Phil owns several businesses in Western North Carolina, and continues to live, work, and prosper in the area. But why? Why did he want to work in Western North Carolina? Why does he continue to dig his roots deeper and deeper into the fresh mountain soil? Well, for the very same reason so many other people make a commitment to their small town… it is their home.
“We had roots here, our family and friends are here,” said Phil of why he wanted to work in his hometown. “It just happened that way. We wanted to grow and “home” seemed like the logical place to do it. Not to mention the weather and the view ain’t half bad either.”
How small businesses give back to the community
Like so many other small business owners, Phil wanted to better his community. “My favorite aspect of having a business here is being able to create jobs for the community and the opportunity to build something that I can be proud of. My favorite part of working in my hometown has been the chance to work alongside friends doing something that I really enjoy. If you can combine those things, you can be happy at whatever you do.”
Other business owners in Western North Carolina have found the same perks to be true. When Nathan Lowe, owner and operator of Blue Ridge Cornhole and BKL Boards, wanted to turn a hobby into a career, Haywood County, North Carolina seemed like the perfect place, after all, it was his home. Nathan’s business is geared toward building custom corn hole boards as well as scheduling and hosting tournaments all across WNC.
“I would say that the biggest reason that I wanted to have a business here in WNC is because I live here,” said Nathan. “I’m from Waynesville, now live in Canton but I have many connections and knew that if I pursued the cornhole business that it could grow here in WNC because of the "smalltown" atmosphere. Most people know each other through only a couple other people so if you provide a good product or service then through word of mouth, your business will grow.”
Just because Nathan’s small business is flourishing in Western North Carolina doesn’t mean it is the only place it would succeed. Like a lot of small town businesses, Nathan’s business would do just as well somewhere else, but his love of home and the people he meets keeps him in the mountains.
“I love it here in WNC. I believe the business that I'm in would succeed about anywhere and it is doing so,” said Nathan. “But I started this business so it could provide an atmosphere for guys and girls of any age to have something fun to do, hang out with friends, meet new people and enjoy local restaurants/bars/recreational locations.”
Western North Carolina mountains are second to none
As a photographer, Jackson County based small business owner Ruby Peoples of Ruby Peoples Photography’s favorite part of working in WNC is the natural beauty and atmosphere that the mountains bring to her business.
“I fell in love with photography, and when I started my business a few years ago, there were not a lot of photographers in the area that took outdoor, natural light photos. I wanted to be able to offer that perfect, natural outdoor backdrop to the wonderful people of our little small towns, so I opened up shop, so to speak,” said Ruby.
Like Nathan, Ruby’s job affords her the opportunity to constantly meet new people and travel all across Western North Carolina. Although she is housed in Jackson County, Ruby works in about every county in Western North Carolina. Everyday her office is a little different with a new smiling face framed with a new exciting natural treasure of Western North Carolina.
“I really like meeting all of the people,” said Ruby. “I am from the area, and even though it's a small town, there are so many people that I had not met and I have created relationships with them and am able to watch their families grow and their lives change each time I photograph them,” said Ruby. “Being a part of so many people's most treasured and happy moments has by far been my favorite aspect of being a small town business owner. When you think about it, photographers are hired to be there and document the best of times, I've seen babies being born, couples saying "I do" and sharing their first dance as a couple, a graduate walk across the stage. It's amazing, really.”
One aspect of being a small town business that is vastly different from big city living is the power of word of mouth marketing. As one of the oldest and most effective forms of marketing, Ruby said it is because of this that has allowed her to have her dream job. “Western North Carolina rocks! I really appreciate all of the word of mouth that has helped my business grow, the people here are so great to share me with their friends and family and for that I am forever grateful,” said Ruby. “I am always learning and trying to improve my art, so that I can continue to provide my clients with my best possible work!”
Growth potential is alive and well in small towns!
Some businesses are born in places like Macon County, and due to the environment, they grow! Owner of both Rosebud Cottage and Mossy Rock, Martha Holbrook said that learning and growing as a small business owner on Main Street Franklin has been an experience. While she first opened Rosebud cottage before expanding to Mossy Rock, Martha continues to learn the ends and outs of small business life.
“Being in business is hard work, and you have to expect to make mistakes, have failures but if you choose to do it give it your all, if you do even the negatives will be successes,” said Martha.
Martha’s shops have joined Main Street America and offer a specialty shopping and dinning experience in Western North Carolina.
“I am a native and live here so I wanted to stay here and raise my family, live and work,” Martha said of why she wanted to start a business in her hometown. “My favorite aspect of owning a small business is having the opportunity to be creative and being blessed with incredible customers day in and day out, they make it worth doing.
Some small businesses, although based in Western North Carolina, have a reach that spans the entire country. The Swain County grounded business Southern Charm Traditional Wear has skyrocketed to success, not just in Western North Carolina, but all over the United States. And owner Scott Jacobs credits his success 100% to being based here in the Great Smoky Mountains.
“My favorite experience as a business owner here has been the customers,” said Scott. “I often consider opening locations in other states and regions but I'm not sure if I could find a more loyal and supportive customer base as the people of WNC have shown Southern Charm. I constantly push my store and myself to better our operations for my local customer base. My goal is and always has been to be the premier shopping experience for the people of WNC.”
Scott’s store is a clothing line centered around country living, and a lot of his designs and products are inspired by living in the Western North Carolina mountains. His brand has been built around this region and is marketed for the people who live the Southern Charmed life.
“I wanted to have a business in WNC because this is home and I feel that if you give the people of WNC a quality business based on good customer service that they will be very loyal to that business,” said Scott. “I feel WNC has a great amount of room for growth and that's something I am happy to key in on.”
Small town business have the best customer base and that loyalty is invaluble.
Like Ruby, Scott credits his success to the loyalty he has found in his hometown. That is what makes small business owners special. Their customers become their champions and can make or break the business.
“I love how WNC gives you a customer base that is far reaching. The people of WNC are proud to support their local businesses as long as they are treated with great customer service and reasonable prices. I also like how WNC is one area where you can literally create a market of customers from all areas of WNC. The people of WNC are used to traveling to different parts of the region for the things they need and it has been great to have so many regions of WNC treat my store like their local hometown store. I consider all surrounding areas the hometown of Southern Charm.”
Scott has built a brand from ground up and has taken his small business to the ends of the earth. He knows far too well the hustle and bustle it takes for small town businesses to earn their piece of the pie.
“I think WNC is one of few places in this country with such an open market potential,” said Scott. “I think if you're willing to put in the hard work and hours that this region will support your small business goals. If you are not willing to put in the work then well..... it doesn't matter where you open a business your odds of success are slim.”
Brittney Burns, SiteDart Author