Building a Web of Connections
By Kathryn Walsh | Photography by Alice G. Patterson
When it came time for Anne Notarthomas to name her new business, she knew she wanted to use the initials of her nieces and nephews. Figuring out how to use the letters took a little thinking. “MakeAir” might have worked if she piloted hot air balloons. “Rake Aim” would have been a strange but fitting name for a landscaping service.
In the end, though, Anne decided to start her business name with an “e.” After all, Internet communication is one of the things she does best.
eKamria was born. The company specializes in providing website development, marketing and content management services to small businesses, as well as fundraising consulting.
She likes that the name of her business leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
“I don’t know what this business is going to turn into, and I want the name to be able to stay the same and evolve into whatever makes sense,” Anne said. “It can be whatever I make it.”
Evolution has been a prominent theme in her life these last five years. She started eKamria after ending a 29-year career working in information technology and fundraising development for the Rescue Mission.
She learned the basics of building and optimizing websites on the job, and was even part of the team that built the organization’s first website. That hands-on experience proved useful when she was ready to start eKamria.
Anne never completed any formal training in web design, development or marketing; in fact, her degree is in music education. Instead, she’s honed her programming and marketing skills with lots of practice, seminars and online courses, research and the help of a supportive online community.
Now, she has enough coding skills “to be dangerous,” and helps her clients both build websites and use them effectively.
“There is more to Internet marketing than the pictures and text on your website,” Anne explained. “What DIY people don’t necessarily know is how to structure information, keywords, links, proper story-telling techniques, site maintenance — and keeping up with the ever-changing techniques and requirements.”
eKamria is a one-woman show, although Anne does subcontract some work out to a writer and a graphic artist. No two days are the same. It’s a challenging business that requires lots of problem solving — something Anne finds gratifying.
“I love when I can help people,” she said. “When it really comes down to it, when I can do something for somebody that they didn’t know how to do or I can point them to how to do it, I really enjoy that.”
Many of the clients Anne helps are women, which is no coincidence.
“My beginning networking groups were WBOC, Women Ties and Wise [Women’s Business Center],” she said. “So who am I meeting? Women.”
Those connections were essential, because although creative thinking and problem solving come naturally to Anne, the social part of running a business can be nerve-wracking for a self-described introvert.
“It gets better when I know more people, I’m finding,” she said. “I’m at five years in my business, and when I started … I pretty much knew nobody. And so I was starting from scratch, getting to know people in the community.”
WBOC has been instrumental in Anne’s success. She’s noticed she seems to get encouragement from other group members right when she needs it most, and networking with group members has helped her grow eKamria into what it is today.
“What I’m starting to find out is if you go to enough places, you start seeing the same people everywhere, and the more I know some people, the easier it has been,” Anne said. “You know, some people introduce me to other people and, actually, I start introducing people to other people. It is getting better. So once I know all of Syracuse, I’ll be all set.” SWM
For more on Anne’s business, visit ekamria.com.
Women Business Opportunities Connections (WBOC) is a non-profit organization that has been supporting the Syracuse and CNY area for more than 20 years. To become a member, visit wboconnection.org or follow the organization on Twitter at @WBOConnection. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a signature sponsor of the WBOC.