Sisters find success with online business
ARENAC COUNTY — Three sisters from Arenac County are combining their talents and finding success with their website Michigan-Made.com.
Deborah Robinson, Kathleen Clark and Rejeana Heinrich began Michigan-Made.com in 2008, specializing in selling products made in Michigan, and according to Heinrich, the website has continued to grow.
“Between 2009 and 2010, our site grew eight-fold,” she said. “We have 30 suppliers and around 20 more on the way.”
Heinrich said that Michigan-Made.com was Robinson’s idea.
“We started this site in 2008 when Michigan was in the midst of the economic crash,” she said. “This state was surrounded by doom-and-gloom, and we just thought, Michigan has so much going for it, we need to get these products out there.”
The sisters, who grew up between Twining and AuGres, began going to trade shows and talking to vendors about their website. Heinrich said people loved the idea of Michiganders buying products from other Michiganders.
“Why go and buy something from Texas or other places when you can get something made right here?” she said. “I think people want to support other people from Michigan.”
Heinrich said that Michigan-Made.com is in a “growth mode.” Adding that the site features around 200 products, all made in Michigan.
“We operate just like any brick and mortar store, except that we are online,” she said. “We have been receiving fantastic feedback from our customers and our vendors.”
Items featured on Michigan-Made.com range from books and candles, to food items. Heinrich said there are only a few guidelines vendors have to follow to sell their items on the site.
“The items have to be made in Michigan, be high in quality, and buy into our philosophy of customer service,” she said.
Heinrich believes that Michigan-Made.com can provide a door of opportunity for those who want their product to receive exposure.
“Some customers may come to our site looking to buy a candle, when they stumble upon another product they might like,” she said.
As for the sisters themselves, Heinrich said running the website has brought them closer together.
“We have always been a close-knit family,” she said. “We have had our disagreements, but never an argument.”
Heinrich said she also has a job working at Saginaw Valley State University in the center for family business. She added that all three sisters bring different skills to the website.
“Right now, I guess I am practicing what I preach,” she said. “Kathy is the Web expert and Debi is the expert on the business end, and I handle the communication end.”
All three women still reside in Arenac and Bay counties.