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Small Business Saturday

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

In honor of this program I am highlighting one of my favorite brands--Ellen Allen Annapolis. Ellen is a designer that dreams big, but has started small. An Annapolitan (as am I) by birth, Ellen tapped into the preppy vibe of our hometown and turned it into a fashion statement. Right now the line centers on accessories, such as my beloved Eastport Tote ($250).

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and let's not forget the wallet on my wishlist this year the Edgehill ($90)

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I picked this brand for a few reasons. First, the fashion component is terrific. These bags are on trend and timeless and always make me look way more pulled together than I actually am! Second, she's got a terrific looking site. Clean, crisp and easy to navigate it's a dream to shop. I know Ellen doesn't have unlimited funds, she invests her time and money in quality materials and it shows. Small doesn't mean unprofessional. Small means personal, special and wonderful--just like Ellen's bags.

We shot a few questions to Ellen to find out more about running her successful, small business:

Why did you include American Express in you online payment options?

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When customers ask us, '??Do you take American Express'?, we love saying '??Absolutely!'? Serving our customers is our top priority. American Express members are a key constituency for Ellen Allen Annapolis. By partnering, we ensure that the busy parent, the traveling professional, discerning consumer, and the business decisionmaker (especially the one who orders corporate gifts for their customers and employees!) have the best access to doing business with us.

What's the most effective marketing tool you've found?

Our voice. We'??re in love with our products, and they make stylish organization possible. We love talking to customers about all the great ways they use and love our bags. We use all kinds of social networking and apps to facilitate conversation, but nothing takes the place of face-to-face personal and personalized interaction. And as small business owners, we'??re able to stay nimble and lead by having that bond with our consumer.

What's the biggest success of the brand so far?

So many pop into my mind! I might even say it'??s our candles, because it'??s the most recent! Within the last month, we put a small announcement on a social networking site with a picture of one, and sold out within a week. I think it'??s because we had worked so hard to build a loyal contingent of devotees. This was really the very first product for the Home that we'??ve launched, and it lets us know that there is support for us branching out from our strong handbag fan base.

Take a moment to celebrate one of your favorite brands this weekend. Shop and spread the word. Little guys rock!

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Disclosure: I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I was paid for the concept of this post, but I selected the small business. Ellen Allen Bags did not pay for this post.

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