Self-proclaimed, “one-woman show,” Rachael Koenig started Shore Society as a means to express herself creatively outside of her nine to five. I had a blast chatting with Rachael about Shore Society and what it means to be a small business owner in Cleveland. Overall our consensus is that Cleveland is a great place to start a business. Learn more about Rachael, and Shore Society, below.
Haley Mills : How did the idea for Shore Society come about?
Rachael Koenig: Initially, I was just looking for a creative outlet. I was designing prints and products and selling them on Etsy, when I created my first Lake Erie Love print. Once I created that print I felt like I was getting a lot of customers and comments that were looking for more things along those lines. At the time the local pride movement here in Cleveland was kind of just growing, and I felt like I wanted to differentiate from what was out there. I wanted to create a product line and blog, too, around celebrating the lake and being on this coast. We have such a unique coastal feel here in Cleveland. The Great Lakes have such a different feel, and I wanted to highlight what makes Lake Erie special.
Obviously with a full-time job there are some years where I can spend more time on the business than others. For the past few years I’ve been full steam ahead – doing markets and trying to get out there as much as possible. It keeps me busy, but I just can’t stop doing it.
HM: What made you to decide to act on the idea?
RK: Getting such a positive reception from so many people really gave me the confidence to really start investing time and money into creating something bigger. On my own I may feel confident and strong about an idea, but I think it does take that little bit of validation and acceptance – and I’ve gotten that from the community here which has been so great. As you know – Clevelanders are so supportive of new things that are coming onto the scene and are very open to the maker movement. I felt very supported and appreciated and it’s given me the courage to put out new products and keep pushing things along.
This community is a great place to start a business.
HM: What is your favorite part about running Shore Society?
RK: My favorite part is interacting with my customers, Instagram followers, and those that read the blog. I think just meeting new people has been the best part… and meeting new friends and collaborators. As much as Instagram has its downfalls what’s nice about it is that it’s connected me with so many new people who I then have met in real life - whether it’s because of the Local Girl Gang events or The [Cleveland] Flea. I think that’s been the biggest positive impact on my life – that it’s enhanced my life with relationships.
HM: What’s the biggest challenge with running Shore Society?
RK: Number one: Time management- balancing everything for the business with a full-time job.
Number two: Getting in my own way creatively - when you’re just one person you need to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Luckily, I have great friends and my husband who tolerate me asking their opinions about things all of the time. As a solo business owner, it’s important to reach out to customers and other people for feedback and opinions because that will keep you moving forward.
The best part has been building something from the ground up. Watering it as a seed and watching it grow and turn into something. The crazy thing is you have to keep fertilizing it, and staying on top of it. It’s important to look at it with an outsider’s perspective. I was just looking at my website and I caught a little error amd I was like Ugh! I need to change that - how long has that been there? You can’t do everything – letting go is important. I’m totally type A and this business has taught me that it’s okay — and impossible — to be perfect all the time.
HM: Where did you grow up?
RK: I grew up in Bay Village and went to Kent for College. After Kent, I moved to Lakewood and I’ve been in Lakewood ever since. I now own a home in Lakewood with my husband (see her amazing home tour photos, here). We love living in Lakewood.
HM: Why Cleveland after graduation?
RK: Growing up in Bay Village I spent my fair share of time downtown – but I feel like coming back after college the city had already changed so much. I felt like it was really on the precipice of its upswing, so it was really exciting to be here during that time. There’s something new opening up at every turn – I think it’s a great time to be here.
Favorite Place to eat in Lakewood: Humble Wine Bar
Favorite Place to Brunch: Dante
Favorite Spot to be in Cleveland: Anywhere along the lake – Edgewater beach or the Flats. I love hanging out at Alley Cat, drinking champagne and eating oysters on the balcony overlooking the water. It makes you feel like you aren’t in Cleveland but it’s also the best part of Cleveland. I love that the flats are back and better than ever. We dock our boat at Edgewater Yacht Club and that has skyrocketed to the top of my list of great places to be - taking our boat out and seeing the city from a new perspective.
Favorite Sports Team: I am a Cleveland Indians girl, but I also love watching the Cavs. It’s been really fun especially during the championship ride and those few years leading up to that. My husband and I were just obsessed with the Cavs, going to games, and enjoying following the players on social media. It was an amazing experience.
Seeing the Indians make it to the World Series, while heartbreaking, was a great experience. I remember watching the 1995 World Series with my dad and getting to experience it again as an adult was so exciting.
Favorite Place for Dinner in Cleveland: Ok, I love Bar Cento, I feel like it was kind of at the beginning of the revitalization of Ohio City. I love to get a pizza and pomme frites and a bottle of wine. Or Fahrenheit. I also like Collision Bend - so if you’re looking for a good spot with a view in the flats Collision Bend or Alley Cat are great. I also like IL RIONE, the pizza and vibe is so good!