This month's special guest is Rachael Koenig, owner and designer behind the amazing Lake Erie inspired company Shore Society in Cleveland, Ohio! This company encompasses all things Great Lakes related - the calm shore vibes of her company is what attracted me to her brand immediately.
Shore Society's Instagram page makes you feel an instant calm, nautical vibe. Throughout Rachael's instagram and website her clean-cut, fresh aesthetic expresses the serenity that her company portrays. From beautiful clothing, to mugs, prints, key chains and more - you definitely have to check her out!
Ashley: How old are you?
Ashley: What inspired you to start Shore Society?
Rachael: I started my business as a creative outlet and a way to express my love for the lake and all things coastal here in Ohio. There wasn't much on the market here that focused on Lake Erie, or the Great Lakes in general, and I wanted to capture the unique coastal feel that we have here in Cleveland. I spent a LOT of time at the lake while growing up, and still do, so it's just been a big part of me overall. Most people outside of the region don't envision Cleveland as having a coastal vibe and environment, which it very much does. I have a degree in graphic design and always imagined I'd be doing something on the side, but never pictured I'd be designing a line of products and flushing out a brand. It's been a very fun journey, and I can't wait to see where it continues to go!
Ashley: What is your favorite part about running your own company?
Rachael: I love coming up with a vision for a product/collection and implementing it from start to finish – it's the best feeling! I've also loved connecting with other business owners, bloggers, and small companies through it — I've learned so much from them and I love the sense of community. It's also been empowering (though at times frustrating!) to figure out various aspects of the business, and teaching myself things on the fly. I think experience is a great teacher though!
Ashley: I read that your full-time job is to design greeting cards! I love that! Can you tell the readers a little more about that?
Rachael: Yes! I have been working at a greeting card company for the past 10 years. I'm grateful to have a creative job, and it's fulfilling to create meaningful product for so many people in the world. I love cards and think they're such an important way to stay connected with our loved ones, especially during tough times!
Ashley: Do you sometimes find it difficult to have a full-time job and run Shore Society? Rachael: It's a challenge at times, yes! There are only so many hours in the day, so I've learned to be really strategic with my time outside of work. Some days it's coming home and fulfilling orders, other days it's updating the website or creating content for my social channels. The nice thing is, though, I have the flexibility to decide what I can handle, or when I decide I need a break. I'm very aware now of when I'm overworking myself, and when I need to pump the brakes (and TAKE a break)!
Ashley: It's obvious that your main inspiration for your creations comes from the shore (Cleveland's coastline especially). Being a girl who loves the shore myself I can understand the beauty of it! Besides that though, where does your overall inspiration come from in life? Rachael: Travel is a huge source of inspiration to me – I like to be in a place and sort of simmer in it. Absorb its flavors, smells, colors, sounds...noticing the big picture and the details. I keep a mental mood board in my brain while I'm on trips, with ideas or visuals that could inspire something down the line. I think as a creative person, you have to be constantly expanding your worldview or opening your mind to new things. I also love music – I'm a big classic rock lover – so I get a lot of inspiration from lyrics and the way certain songs make you feel in a moment.
Ashley: I absolutely love looking through your online shop! Nautical has always been something that's attracted me, so I'm obsessed with all these pieces! I gotta get my hands on your Sherpa Pullover for example...looks SO cozy! What's the process behind finding the right vendors to help create your pieces?
Rachael: Usually a new product starts with a sketch and an idea, then a lot of internet searching to find the right vendor, ordering samples, and moving onto the final product. I work with a great local printer for my apparel pieces, and they're able to work with me on samples and testing things out, so having that relationship is huge. My other products like mugs, keychains, and prints are all produced by vendors that specialize in those areas, so I think finding someone who's really good at one or two things is key for achieving a high quality result.
Ashley: How has being your own boss been? For such a young woman it's pretty amazing and inspirational to see!
Rachael: Thank you! It's been an ongoing process, but I journey I think I always knew I was headed for. As I mentioned above, it's been empowering to learn new skills, try (and fail) at new things, and celebrate the little wins along the way. Working in a vaccuum is never good for growth, so having the help and advice of my husband, friends, and fellow business owners has been a key part of the process. I'm grateful for being able to bounce ideas off of them, and thankful that they are willing to listen!
Ashley: If you asked yourself 5 years ago that this is where you'd be would you believe it?Rachael: Definitely not! I was in business 5 years ago, but was producing and selling on such a small scale back then. The online landscape has changed so much – even 3 years ago I would not have imagined that I could be at this level without a brick and mortar store, for example. So there are a lot of factors involved – but I think being patient, staying the course, and staying true to my business values has been paying off in the long run! I always have more work to do, to keep pushing forward, so I have to keep on keepin' on!
Thank you Rachael for taking the time to chat with me about your amazing company! I'm so excited to see what the future holds for Shore Society and everything Rachael has to offer.
Self-started business owners are so inspiring, especially women - so cheers to her and for taking that leap! I only hope that this inspires others to follow their dreams, while having a full time job, just as she did!
Do you know a self-starting business owner who has a unique talent that should be shared?
I would love to hear about it, message or email me with more information :)
thanks for stopping by!