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Meet Deborah Ohara of About Redlands Network

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Ohara.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Deborah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When my children were in grade school I went online to look for events, family related activities, small specialty businesses, boutiques, etc. and could not locate a website with that information. So, I decided to build one.

I chose a membership based business model to fund the site. Locally-owned businesses pick a membership level that fits their needs. Understanding that small business owners had little in the way of a marketing budget I set the plan levels as low as $10 a month.

It was important to me to promote and donate to non-profits so I invited them to list their events at no charge. To date, About Redlands is a proud and devoted contributor to 57 local charities, non-profit organizations and the arts. “When we are motivated by the desire to serve, we are looking out for others. A service mentality is a far more abundant attitude.

Additionally, a local business directory did not exist and I thought it was important to provide one where membership was not required. To date, it lists over 2,000 locally-owned businesses.

I am most proud of the event calendar which is the official community events calendar for the City of Redlands hosted on AboutRedlands.com. We provide this as a community service which drives traffic to small businesses and local non-profit organizations events/fundraisers.

About Redlands represents more than 2,000 locally owned businesses. We believe that locally-owned, independent businesses are the backbone of our local economy and the foundation of Redlands unique culture.

We celebrate local and independent businesses and ask our community to support them because they create a ripple effect of good for our community — high-quality jobs, uniqueness of place, reduced environmental impact, and so much more.

16 years later we have 30,000 using the site monthly and 70,000 social media followers, the area’s largest audience. We are happy to provide visitors with travel guides to give them the BEST Redlands area experience.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been an easy road. I will admit I thought of selling many times, but I don’t give up easy. Small business owners often do not have a business plan nor a budget to grow their business. They are wearing 15 hats and most do not understand how to market themselves. Now with social media at the forefront it’s yet another thing for them to try and understand.

We spend a great deal of time trying to educate the business owner. The beauty of what we do is put their business in front of our 70,000 social media followers and they don’t have even have to have a social media account. It’s not something we advise, but for those that can’t take on another thing, it’s perfect.

We are data geeks. Numbers are king. So, we KNOW how many people visit every page, how long they are there, and where they came from. It is frustrating when we hear, “No one ever comes in my store from About Redlands.” We ask, “Do you ask your customers?” They reply, “No.” So, my question is ALWAYS, “Then how do you know? That is our biggest struggle, trying to collect data on the other side from people who do not track their numbers.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us About Redlands Network – what should we know?
I am the owner of the About Redlands Network. I specialize in marketing small business online and known for advocating locally-owned business in our area.

I am most proud to provide a community calendar, local business directory and promote non-profits as a community service. All of these drive traffic into town and into small businesses.

We have no competition. I always says, “No one would be crazy enough to do this.”

The only thing close to our model is the Chamber. However, Chambers only help their members and their membership levels are much higher. We wanted to help the stay at home mom who has a cottage bakery who wants to sell her goods. And, that’s what we do.

We give a big voice to small business.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family and friends are my biggest cheerleaders and advocates, their support and encouragement is ineffable.

My web team RWL Design is also one of my biggest advocates and cheerleaders. The owner, Ryan Lonac, goes beyond the call of duty to help us succeed. Over the past decade he has become a trusted loyal friend.

Every small business that partners with us gives us the steam to keep going. The community that sends us emails and messages saying, “Thank you!” is priceless.

It takes a village. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Marc Piron – photo with orange
Gina Diaz – photo in orange groves

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Ryan Lonac

    September 18, 2018 at 16:33

    Congrats Deborah! We’re so honored to work with you. You’ve made About Redlands into an amazing organization that does wonders for the Redlands community.

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