If you go to their website at: flannelbrand.com, the phrase “We Make Things” is the first thing you see on the about us page. Flannel is an interactive branding company, located in Cotati, Ca. at 1818 La Plaza. According to Dennis Derammelaere, Founder and President, they’ve been at this location since 2010. However, they’ve been in Cotati since 2003 and in business for 18 years. Dennis and his spouse Liz, live in Cotati with their two teenage sons.
One of the things his company made recently – were two hosted websites using their unique “Hive” platform. This platform allows them to quickly develop low cost, quality websites in support of small businesses. You may have heard about, or used, the cotatitogo.com or the shoprp.org sites to find out what businesses were open and what products or services they had available. These were designed and developed in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce in Cotati and Rohnert Park to support local businesses during COVID-19.
Flannel donated their services free of charge. Estimated cost for both sites in development hours is between 8-10 thousand dollars. Also donated are the ongoing hosting costs such as maintenance and back-up of content. This “Hive” platform has an easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS), so once up and running, the sites are updated with new information by the respective chambers.
How did this idea come about? Dennis’s wife is the Executive Director of the Cotati Chamber. She was meeting with other area chambers, discussing how they could help their businesses weather the storm during the pandemic. The City of Sonoma was mentioned as having created a site where folks could find out which businesses were still open. She brought the idea home and with her husband they brainstormed how they could do something similar through his business. Liz did most of the data entry using existing chamber data base information, but they wanted to be inclusive of all Cotati businesses, not just chamber members.
The goal was to provide people with a quick and easy way to support local restaurants and businesses that remained open during the shelter-in-place orders. The Cotati site was first up. It got a lot of positive notice. Flannel then offered other cities and chambers their donated services. They said, “We are proud to be a small business and a part of Cotati and Sonoma County.” The Rohnert Park Chamber took them up on their offer. Having more businesses to cover, the data gathering effort was a bit more extensive, but the results were the same. If you go to either site, you’ll have the ability to “Find a Business” and even add a business if they aren’t currently included. Businesses are grouped by category.
Here’s an example of how it works using the Cotati To Go site. Once at the website I selected “Restaurants & Bars.” Scrolling down to one of my favorites, “Saigon Café.” The entry told me the address, phone number, hours of operation and some basic information. It also provided me an active link where the menu and prices were listed. Other businesses may have more extensive websites – for example Costco in Rohnert Park – but the concept is the same. The sites are nicely designed and easy to use. Check them out. You can also check out the other work Flannel does for higher education and non-profits at their website: flannelbrand.com. Dennis said, “I’m happy to help businesses however I can”. During these difficult times, our community is fortunate to have folks like Dennis and his staff amongst us as another example of “People Helping People.”