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Boss Ladies of CLE: Emily Roggenburk and her fashion empire

Cleveland is at the heart of everything she does, and so is her "girl gang."

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Cleveland pride is at the center of Emily Roggenburk's success. The design company baring her name started in 2016, from the back of a helicopter -- on Cavs Championship Parade Day.

"I really just wanted to be a part of the parade itself. Um, and I just thought it would be a great vantage point to be able to go up in a helicopter versus being anywhere down on the ground for photos," says Roggenburk, who got some of the most iconic photos of the parade that day. "I was trying to kind of build somewhat of a small photography business. And again, I had no idea from that point to now that it would be what it is."

Those photos were seen around the city, and sold like crazy. So fast, that she decided to quit her job at American Greetings -- the one that brought the Indiana native to Cleveland.

She went all in, putting her degree in fashion merchandising and design to work.

"That was, kind of, just the natural next step for me," Roggenburk said. "We started online, everything was on my website and actually, we started in our apartment, which was very tight for awhile."

Roggenburk then grew into a warehouse, then opened a storefront at Crocker park in 2019. A second location at Van Aken in Shaker Heights opened this fall.

She says her aesthetic is very Cleveland-centric.

"I hope that people see me as a brand that offers this wonderful apparel that is a little bit, you know, sophisticated and cool and trendy," she said. "But is also a brand that really stands for something and unites others and cares about others and helps to uplift and empower them."

Roggenburk's influencer/social media style celebrates her girl gang and her sisterhood designs and collaborations are signature items. The women in her life are her inspiration, and she's always absorbing what's new.

"I've always loved talking about fashion, how my friends style their clothing, just the people around me and what they like to wear," said Roggenburk. 

And she says Browns game fashion is an especially big draw.

"It's distracting because I'll be walking to the game with my friends and they're like, 'come on, Emily, let's go' and I'm just like, taking everything in and scanning it and like, 'what's that person wearing?'" Roggenburk said.

Currently, she's navigating pandemic supply issues and trying to stay nimble as her business grows. Her mentors, employees and husband Kyle are critical parts of the team.

"I always think that it's best to just try to adjust when you're faced with adversity, rather than stick your feet in the ground," Roggenburk said.

She tells young entrepreneurs, don't wait.

"You just have to jump in and even if you're not ready, and I know that sounds scary and slightly irresponsible, but I really think that there's never going to be a perfect time to launch something," Roggenburk said.

While someday she'd love to see ER expand, CLE is at the core of her Boss Lady story.

"My whole business got started because of a life-changing thing that happened in Cleveland and has continued to grow because of the support that the Cleveland community has for its makers and the love that people have for the city here," Roggenburk said.

You can watch the full interview with Sara Shookman and Emily Roggenburk below:

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