I grew up in the cutest, most perfect town in the world: Pella, Iowa.

Google it. You’ll want to visit too, I promise.

The annual Tulip Time festival brings in 150,000+ people and generates $5 million for local businesses in town. You’ve got your Dutch pastry shops, local meat markets, and the most darling boutiques.

Growing up there, our family went uptown to get our hair done, buy gifts, shop for furniture, consume donut holes and grab lunch with friends. Almost every dollar went into the local economy over and over again.

The only time I remember going to the…

I’m always excited for what’s next and anything related to the future. When my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. on weekdays, I eagerly hop out of bed to make some coffee and journal about who I want to be, where I want to go, and things I want to create. It brings me heaps of joy.

What I tend to ignore is sincere, deep reflection. It feels unnecessary and like a waste of time… until I do it.

My husband wrote me this really nice note for Christmas (I cried which I DEFINITELY don’t do very often) with silly…

My mom is constantly sharing Instagram posts with me from different brands in my city with things like “we should try this!” or “want this for your birthday?”

We have similar taste so if my mom thinks something is cool, I probably will too.

When people we trust share experiences they’ve had or local brands they tried, in just a moment we are clicking over to that brand’s Facebook Page or Instagram profile to do our own assessment.

Most of us don’t even realize we’re making decisions because of someone’s Facebook comment or Instagram Story.

It happens so fast.


On Small Business Saturday, I watched my old coworkers, my best friends, and favorite local business owners posting the local brands they were supporting. I saw their Instagram Guides popping up in Stories, I witnessed business owners going Live to talk about the local brands their followers could also shop in their district, and I held my finger on dozens of Stories where people listed out local brands on their very own shopping wish list.

Users are getting savvy with the Gram and are ready to elevate the experiences they love to their 100 to 5,000 local followers.

The features…

When I first discovered oat milk, it was like the world opened up to me.

And then when I had oat milk with espresso… warmed up… my life changed. Ok, I’m obviously being dramatic, but I was 100% hooked. I talked about it a few times on my Instagram Stories, but mostly I would run into friends at the grocery store or on a walk (with my latte obviously) which would lead to me asking “omg have you tried it yet? You must!!” My enthusiasm won the hearts of anyone I would talk to.

I kid you not, over the…

Emily Steele

Entrepreneur, CEO, local business enthusiast. I write about topics that impact local businesses, leaders, and communities.

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