The Future is Female - Meet Emily Roggenburk
Written by Megan Baranuk
A local female-owned business featuring Cleveland apparel and photography recently opened a storefront at Crocker Park. Emily Roggenburk is a prime example of a creative mind with a passion to succeed and thrive in Cleveland. This young female entrepreneur and aerial photographer created and currently runs her own business, Emily Roggenburk Studios. She specializes in creating Cleveland apparel, aerial photography, female empowerment apparel, as well as custom designs.
Emily’s journey began at Indiana University, where she studied Apparel Merchandising, Business, and Fashion Design. She moved to Cleveland, working as a Product Development Analyst at American Greetings. Originally, Roggenburk thought that Cleveland would just be a stop on her career journey, before New York or Chicago. This view completely changed when she met her husband Kyle, born and raised in Cleveland. A true Clevelander, Kyle’s passion and excitement for Cleveland was contagious, and Cleveland moved to take a part of Emily’s heart. Roggenburk says that her husband has been a huge influence on opening her eyes to the many sides of Cleveland.
“I feel like I’ve gotten the full experience of what this town is all about, and the community that comes together...everything combined made me want to stay, and I saw a lot of what Cleveland had to offer. I just fell in love...I love the culture here, I love the vibe of the community and camaraderie that Cleveland has,” Roggenburk expressed when asked why she ultimately chose to stay in Cleveland.
Roggenburk continued to work at American Greetings for five years. June 22, 2016 became a date that would change Roggenburk’s business and life forever. This is the date that she spontaneously rented out a helicopter the day of the Cleveland Cavaliers parade, signifying their 2016 NBA Finals championship. Roggenburk took photographs of the parade, in which one million loyal fans took to the street, celebrating Cleveland’s victory. Snapping pictures that encompassed Cleveland’s pride and spirit, these shots became extremely popular on Roggenburk’s website, where she sold thousands of prints.
I recently sat down to talk with Emily Roggenburk. I wanted to learn more about the successful woman behind the fun apparel and amazing photography. The first thing Roggenburk did was ask about me, showing that she values empathy and seeks a real connection with her supporters and those she comes into contact with because of the business. It was clear that Roggenburk was not only passionate about the city itself, but about her business as well. After working the business online for so long, Roggenburk finally had the opportunity to open up a storefront in Crocker Park. Crocker Park reached out to Roggenburk and offered her a spot, aligning perfectly with Roggenburk’s goals and timing. Recalling the grand opening, Roggenburk reminisces, “It was the grand opening of my dreams...we had balloon displays, cotton candy, and there were lots of people there. Everyone was so happy, it was fun and whimsical, but it was so nice to connect with people i have been connecting with online for a while and to be able to chat with them and get to know them in person. It was very rewarding.” The grand opening encompassed everything that Roggenburk stands for; fun and exciting, while also encouraging community and camaraderie, marking a major milestone for the business at the same time. The grand opening was just the beginning of the storefront, Emily Roggenburk Shop, which is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm-5pm in Crocker Park.
An unique, environmentally conscious component of Emily Roggenburk Studios is the One Of A Kind Fashion Line. In this line, pieces are upcycled from items that Roggenburk thrifted to combat fast fashion. Fast fashion is essentially putting out new fashions very quickly, and producing new apparel in a large amount can produce pollution and harmful impacts on the environment. Using an apparel printer, different designs or phrases are printed onto the thrifted items. This allows customers to shop without contributing to the negative impact that fast fashion has.
A typical day for Roggenburk is not as glamorous as it seems from the outside, as any growing business owner will tell you, but it is every bit as rewarding, if not more. Though Roggenburk’s typical day consists of filling t-shirt orders from 8am-5pm, she tirelessly works on the business, even in her personal life. When asked about the work and personal life balance, Roggenburk says, “Every entrepreneur will tell you it’s a hard balance. There’s a lot of crossover between business and personal life, but I try to make it a point to see my friends, go to workout classes, and if I say I'm going to do something, I really try to stick to it just to force myself to not be working all the time.” Roggenburk cited her husband as an example of work and personal life, as her husband often helps out with the business. Roggenburk makes it a point to focus on the business, but also herself. Photoshoots, interviews, and other experiences through and for the business help change up the routine, and keep things different every day as a whole.
Finding the level of success Roggenburk has achieved is partly achieved with support from her friends. Roggenburk reflects on her friends, stating “My biggest inspiration are the women I come into contact with, especially my closest friends. I have a group of three friends, we all have different personalities and different styles but we all have find common ground and support each other. There are so many friends I met as an adult who are so mature, and we love seeing each other succeed.” A strong group of women is fundamental to Roggenburk, and it shows in her female empowerment apparel. One of the most influential women to Roggenburk was her boss at American Greetings, a woman named Christine. Christine was much more than a boss to Roggenburk, but someone who she connected with on a personal level. Roggenburk says, “She was someone who was constantly advocating for me, and made me believe in myself, and the things i could do and what i was capable of. I feel that every connection I’ve made and everything that I’ve had the opportunity to do started with her giving me that confidence and giving me the opportunities in the beginning.” Christine not only inspired Roggenburk to be the best that she could be, but to also be unafraid to take risks, and to unapologetically live in the moment, “She gave me that confidence very early on. I would go to her with my worries and troubles. She told me, you can’t worry about could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, you just have to be in the moment, and don't think about things you should do or could have done differently. It was a nice moment to realize you need to live in the present and not always question your decisions.”
Roggenburk’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and ambitious students is to start chasing their dreams now. Roggenburk says, “The number one thing I believe in is jumping right in, even if you’re not ready. If you don't start, you will never reach your goals. Dreams are just dreams until you have a plan behind them, then they become goals. Just start somewhere and let yourself evolve, and that will eventually turn into something amazing.” Roggenburk continues to inspire through her shop, and constant release of new apparel. I highly encourage readers to check out her shop and website!
Writer’s Note: Emily Roggenburk Shop is located at 25 Main Street, Westlake, OH 44145. Her website is www.emilyroggenburk.com.