Rethinking Retail in Cleveland

JumpStart's Startup Scaleup 2017: Rethinking Retail

The local retail landscape is rapidly evolving, and Cleveland-area business owners shared their journeys during a panel discussion at JumpStart’s Scaleup Startup event.

The panelists, Alexandra Pagan, co-owner of The Old San Juan Jewelers Inc., Kira Heeley, founder and owner, CLE Threads, Valerie Mayen, owner and designer, Yellowcake, and Jackie Wachter, founder, FOUNT - all fashion entrepreneurs - shared how they best reach their customers through having physical storefronts, ecommerce and a combination of both.

The Old San Juan Jewelers is “the community’s jewelry store,” Pagan said. She said that her customers come in to the store to find jewelry that bigger stores don’t carry. Her store is active on social media, and she’s found that people see items online and later come into the store to purchase those items.

Before CLE Threads existed as an online retailer, Heeley began Instagramming her outfits, which led to blogging, which led to building an ecommerce website and selling on other platforms, like Poshmark. She loves that her audience - both in the Greater Cleveland area and beyond - can support her shop, wherever they are. “Even though you’re shopping online doesn’t mean you can’t shop local,” she said.

Wachter began FOUNT with her husband; they started out designing leather bags in their apartment before moving to a studio. Opening a store (6706 Detroit Ave., Cleveland) has worked out well for them. “Women like to see, touch and smell the bags,” Wachter said. She has found that while customers browse FOUNT’s website, they often come into the store to actually make their purchases.

And although having a storefront wasn’t ultimately the best fit for Mayen, Yellowcake offers online ordering with an option for local pickup at FOUNT, which works out well because their customer bases are so similar. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Mayen said. “[Bringing shoppers to the area] is good for everyone in the neighborhood.”

Learn more about Startup Scaleup at

Friday, August 18, 2017