By Cortney Roark
The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Annette Sydes and Alison Cunningham, founders of “I Love Local” a Knoxville-based company that utilizes social media for spotlighting locally owned businesses.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.
Q: What is I Love Local?
A: I Love Local is a Knoxville-based company that utilizes social media for spotlighting locally owned businesses. We love all things local and are passionate about preserving Knoxville’s unique charm. We are not a traditional in-house marketing team; rather, we use our ever-growing social media platforms to showcase local businesses and increase local brand awareness. Our social media platforms connect local businesses with the local community, who are also passionate about keeping all things local.
Q: How did the company start?
A: I am a local realtor, and am long-time friends with Alison Cunningham, a local lifestyle photographer. We had lunch almost two years ago to discuss how we could better promote our respective businesses. After researching our options, we were unable to find an avenue that met our needs. This was our “Aha!” moment. We discovered a need, did some brainstorming, and I Love Local was born.
Q: What has made I Love Local successful to this point?
A: The growing desire of the local community to learn about and support local businesses. As a community member, you get to know the business owners and connect to their passions for why they started their business. It also feels good to support the people you see in your neighborhood, because you know that they are invested in the same community you live in.
In return, our clients (the local businesses) are extremely pleased with the exposure and feedback they are receiving from teaming up with I Love Local.
Q: What sets the company apart from others in your field?
A: When we spotlight local businesses, the local community not only learns about their product(s) and/or service(s), but they also learn about the owner(s) behind each business. The day we spotlight the owner(s), it is by far the most successful day of their social media business feature.
We love being the storytellers that get to peel back the layers of a local business to show the community their story.
Q: Where do you see I Love Local in the future?
A: Our goal is to bring I Love Local to cities and towns across Tennessee while continuing to spotlight local business in our hometown of Knoxville.
Q: What do you wish someone had told you as you began your business venture?
A: Starting a business is hard. All entrepreneurs know that. You think you are going to gain time in your schedule, especially if you leave corporate America, like we both did, but that is not true. The level of time and commitment to get your new business off the ground is difficult, and since I Love Local was a newer concept, it made it even more challenging because we did not have a blueprint to follow.
However, we have been very blessed with knowing and getting to know very supportive local business owners who have lent their guidance and expertise to us. Our business owners have not only believed in us but have supported and continue to support us every step of the way in the vision we have for the Knoxville community.
Type of business: Social media marketing
Date founded: July 2015
Owners: Annette Sydes and Alison Cunningham
Number of employees: No employees outside of ourselves
Located: No storefront
Publicly traded?: No
Connect: [email protected]; facebook.com/ilovelocalknoxville