Invoke Gives 95361 An Updated Web Look
Nicole Tongue is putting her mark on Oakdale.
Just a few months shy of two years since she made the 95361 home, the single mom of two has created partnerships with many non-profits and businesses.
Tongue is the founder and owner of Invoke Solutions. A business she launched from her East Coast home in 2012. As a single mom with an impressive corporate background, the founder shared she had been a casualty of corporate cuts. After encountering rejection and interviews with 20-somethings sharing she lacked experience, Tongue made her skills and knowledge work for her.
“I thought you know what, I’m going to take all my marketing skills and open my own business. That was in 2012,” she said.
“The primary business is website development, but there’s a lot of off shoots because of it,” Tongue explained of her business. “For example, I tend to work with more small mom and pops, start-ups and non-profits and they tend to need a little bit of hand holding for business development.”
The one-woman operation has the knowledge to help a business or non-profit not only with their website, but business plans and grant applications. Tongue shared the marketing piece of a business really helps give the business a blueprint for all else that follows.
“It gives you the resource, so when you go apply for the grants, all those questions the grants are going to ask you are going to be in that website,” she said.
Yet the migration for the Massachusetts native to Oakdale, California was not a business move, but rather a family decision as Tongue’s oldest son Cameron chose Santa Clara University. A gifted basketball player, her son had a number of offers from varying campuses around the country; Santa Clara was his pick.
“When he committed, he committed young,” she said of her son’s college commitment. “He was 17. At 17 they still want their mom’s around.”
So, as she considered relocating, her son pointed out she could do what she did anywhere.
“He’s now an NBA prospect this year to go into the league,” Tongue proudly shared of her oldest son.
Starting her search for where the family could go in the San Jose area, Tongue quickly learned the price per square foot for property did not make sense to her.
“I don’t care what the amenities are, that’s not quality of life,” she said of Bay Area pricing.
“Because I’m in internet marketing, I ran market surveys for this area,” she said as her search expanded beyond the Bay. “I ran a market survey for this area, based on demographic. I wanted to know the ratio of income, population numbers, voting habits, the whole nine yards.”
As a single mom of bi-racial boys, the researcher shared diversity and demographic information was important to her.
“The voting here was 52/48 in the last election,” she said of the last Presidential election. “So to me it said, that’s well balanced. You’ve got both Democrats and Republicans. I like that. I like that diversity. To me you’ve got to have that blend.”
As a self-described lover of “going down the rabbit hole,” Tongue searched all the things when looking at the Central Valley. Studying other areas which included Modesto, Ripon, Escalon and Riverbank, Oakdale just checked all the boxes for the mother and business owner. Yet what sold her the most on the 95361 was a simple Facebook post on the All Things Oakdale Facebook page.
According to the transplant, it was a post about needing ornaments for a Christmas tree. The post quickly grew from people offering ornaments, to presents to bringing the family dinner.
“I thought, what a community, that they all just step in and I thought, I want to be part of that,” she confided. “I like that.”
It definitely is what solidified her decision.
“The voting, the diversity and the genuine desire to give. There was no expectation,” she said of what drew her to Oakdale. “They just genuinely wanted to give and I thought, that is cool.”
It was the invitation to the Morning Merchant meeting from Cotton and Sage co-owner, Ashley Harris, which began the local business partnerships for the web designer/content specialist.
That was the summer of 2022. First being approached by the Oakdale Cowboy Museum, Tongue offered to redesign the website pro bono.
“We worked on that project together and we’re really proud of it,” she said of working with Museum Manager, Bambi Porter.
Through their time, effort and board support, the two revamped the page enhancing what was there, as well as adding a storefront so the museum may now sell merchandise to people from all over the country.
“I’ve got my regular clients back in Boston that I still take care of,” she said of her regular work. She also works with interns on the East Coast to help with clients’ Social Media presence.
“This is the way I feel about my clients. They’re small business owners, they have to focus on the day to day,” she stated. “Let me do what marketers do. We dig, we write the pretty story and we package it up nicely and we hand it over.”
Locally, Tongue has partnered with the Oakdale United Methodist Church with their website, also Oakdale Enrichment Society and now the Oakdale Chamber’s website revamp. She’s also worked with Oakdale Arts and Oakdale Morning Market. Thanks to the help of Tongue, the community can now access Oakdale Events which are all listed through the Chamber of Commerce website or by simply searching ‘Oakdale Events.’
“To me the payoff is the constant referral,” she shared. “I’d rather take less money from you and build you something you’re proud of and take that referral because it’s continuous business. I love it because it’s always a new challenge. It’s always something different. It’s not the same thing over and over again.”
As for establishing routes in the 95361, the businesswoman shared she’s never felt so welcomed, at home and at peace with such a big decision.
“I feel like this is divine intervention, I really do,” she said of coming to Oakdale. “I feel like God played His role in this 100 percent. Because I took a risk. Moving cross country to a place I’d never been. Not knowing a soul, as a single mother and it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
To inquire on services or contact Invoke Solutions for some help or a consult, visit invoke solutions.co
“Oakdale is a unique utopia, it really is,” she shared about the town she now calls ‘home.’
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