What started in 2014 as a simple directory for businesses throughout the state has grown into an association of Indiana-owned businesses that aims to help consumers shop local. Indiana Originals recently changed its name to Indiana Owned in an effort to shine a spotlight on locally-based franchise owners, in addition to independent businesses.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, co-founder Mel McMahon Stone said she was initially resistant to the rebranding.

“But, over the years, we’ve had a lot of inquiries from franchise owners saying, ‘Hey, we’re local. We’re here. We’re achieving your mission. We’re doing things for the community, too,'” said Stone. “But when we were designed in 2014, we were really designed for independent business owners who didn’t have the benefits of national brand recognition, sales playbooks, this is how you design your store, you know, all of those advantages that franchise owners have. What we really learned through the pandemic was that these franchise owners needed recognition for what they were doing in the community.”

Stone says the rebrand kicked into gear after being contacted by Steve Sanner with Jiffy Lube of Indiana presenting his case to be included with the organization. The original plan was to create a franchise division for Indiana Originals, but Stone says a complete rebrand to Indiana Owned made more sense.

“It’s really helping our members stand out in a very self-explanatory way, so we just decided to take the leap and do the rebrand and it’s benefited our members and consumers, too,” she said. “I was most concerned about our members. I’ve spent the last seven years really promoting independent businesses and I was really scared about how they would react.”

Her concerns proved to be unfounded. She says the organization’s members saw the inclusion of franchise owners as another source from which they could learn.

“They see it as a me opening up a new marketplace for them, helping them meet these franchise owners, helping them learn from these franchise owners,” said Stone. “And, for consumers, the more options we have for them, the better. We do a lot of education on what it means to shop local…and for consumers, we’re helping them feel better about their purchase and we’re helping them make an even bigger contribution to our community by making it clear what is Indiana owned and what is nationally owned.”

Stone says the organization’s goal is for IndianaOwned.com to become the “Google of Local,” where consumers can go to find any sort of company they need.

Stone says she was initially resistant to the rebranding.