Last year when we first heard that we had been awarded a grant through Atlanta Metro Export Plan’s Atlanta Metro Export Challenge (Atlanta MEC) grant initiative, we thought it might help us expand our global reach. The real award was not the $5,000, but the enormous support we received from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). GDEcD connected us with representatives from various countries of our choice; they reached out to distributers worldwide; they advised us on import/export duties and methods; and helped with business planning and supply chain.
In May, we, along with the other grant recipients, met to share how we used our grant money and discussed how it takes partnering with each other and other great local organizations to expand our Atlanta brands around the globe. Like us, each of the other companies were blown away by the support they received in the past year from GDEcD. Check out some of their stories at http://www.globalatlanta.com/export-challenge-kicks-off-suds-stories/.
Atlanta Metro Plan (Atlanta MEP) is a regional initiative launched in June 2015 to stimulate economic growth in the region and create quality jobs through exports (international sales). This initiative is a collaborative effort with regional partners from USEAC Atlanta, GDEcD, Metro Atlanta, Chamber, and other economic development organizations. The grant competition aims to encourage metro Atlanta companies to engage in international business opportunities and drive business growth by increasing international sales of local products and services.
FOXERS used the grant money to attend the CURVE Lingerie and Swimwear Tradeshow in 2016 in Las Vegas. We knew that distributors from many global markets attended this show and that our brand would be showcased to many of them for the very first time. And it worked!
Fast forward a year later and that initial exposure, along with the incredible support we continue to receive from GDEcD, and we have potential and growing markets in Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, and Chile.
How it has worked for us is once a market was identified, GDEcD put us in contact with their representative in that country. For the United Kingdom and the EU, they connected us with Mike Harling, and in Canada with Gail Morris. Mike and Gail identified the best retail outlets, discussed with the local government how best to do business in the respective country. In the UK/EU, Mike reached out to media contacts in their territories to expose FOXERS brand to the industry. Gail researched Canada’s best boutiques for our new distributor. We know when we have a potential customer, we can get the expert research done via GDEcD’s team to vet those buyers, which lowers risks.
I want to thank GDEcD, the Metro Atlanta Chamber for all their dedication to our success, and Chase Bank for underwriting this initiative. With our new connected network of resources, FOXERS no longer feels like a small Georgia company, but a growing global brand. And it is not just GDEcD and the Metro Atlanta Chamber, everyone from the Office of the Mayor of the City of Atlanta mayor to the Small Business Development Center’s Export GA program has thrown themselves behind this initiative. As we become savvier about our global growth, I cannot wait to help future grant recipients learn and grow.