Located in the heart of Charleston, West Virginia’s West Side, Echo-Lit LLC is a welcoming modern storefront adorned by a vivid mural of a young girl reading by candlelight in a West Virginia-themed hollow. Step inside, and you’re greeted by a tapestry of art prints, literary excerpts and a trove of West Virginia-inspired treasures meticulously arranged along the walls.
Jeanne Stevenson, the proud owner, embodies a fervor not just for art but for her home state. Her enthusiasm is palpable as she shares the robust support received from both state and federal entities to nurture her business.
Seeking Connection and Overcoming Hurdles
The journey wasn’t solitary. Victoria Russo from the Charleston Area Alliance played a pivotal role by introducing Jeanne to Leslie Drake, Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center and Caitlin Lizarraga, International Trade Manager for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. This connection seeded opportunities and guidance crucial for Echo-Lit’s expansion.
Challenges Encountered and Solutions Explored
Navigating the post-COVID shipping landscape posed a significant hurdle due to soaring costs. Seeking a customer-centric solution, Jeanne experimented with digital downloads for classroom art—a strategic pivot to overcome the shipping predicament.
Amidst the excitement of branching into exports, concerns loomed—ensuring prompt payments and finding a steady stream of international customers.
Progress and Future Endeavors
Echo-Lit’s proactive steps speak volumes. From securing STEP Grant funding for website enhancements to engaging in RAISE Market Research to chart a robust export strategy, their proactive approach is evident. Jeanne’s participation in the Business Opportunities in the Americas conference offered invaluable insights, fostering connections with trade specialists across North and South America, opening doors to regional opportunities.
With a firm foothold and a vision set, Jeanne stands poised to propel Echo-Lit’s exports to new heights. This isn’t merely a singular journey—it’s an invitation to witness growth and triumph. Follow Jeanne’s odyssey as she charts her course towards expanded exports. Stay tuned as we revisit in the coming months, reporting on Echo-Lit’s inspiring progress and newfound milestones.
Echo-Lit’s story is a beacon and testament to the possibilities awaiting those stepping into the world of exports. It echoes the essence of determination, resilience and the power of seeking support in the pursuit of global success.
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By Caitlin Ashley-Lizarraga
Manager, International Trade
Caitlin works with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Export Promotion Program. She helps introduce the world to the hidden gem of West Virginia one export at a time.