julie and shawn warren
Meet Julie and Shawn Warren, founders of Erie Design
, a family-owned and operated sign company in Lakewood with one employee. In business since, 1999 the Warrens use state-of-the-art technology to create signs, banners and graphics for businesses, churches, schools, non-profit organizations and individuals all over the west side of Cleveland.
What was the highlight for your business in 2013?
We gained Cleveland Browns Hospitality
as a customer and now create signs for special food events and for many of the food vendors within the stadium.
What is the most unique project you’ve worked on?
Since everything we create in our shop is customized, they all are unique. However, one of the more memorable have been banners and directional signage for the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in 2000. We had only been open for a few months and a stellar figure in our community hooked us up with the job.
Another memorable day was when Shawn lettered a huge barge on Lake Erie in very cold temperatures. While he was on a ladder, he had to wait as the boat would list back and forth from the dock in order to rub the lettering down.
He also created a series of life-sized puppets
for a musical called "It's Not Mean to Be Green
." They became like members of our family.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
In 2011, we were notified that the Detroit Theater building, which had been part of the Lakewood landscape since the late 1920s and housed our business for 13 years, was going to be torn down and replaced by a McDonalds.
Not only had this building served us with a livelihood for 13 years but it was also where we raised our children in their pre-school years as they joined us at work each day. This transition was an incredibly emotional one on many levels. Not only was our city losing a beloved landmark but we were being evicted from our shop and second home.
We were able to overcome this challenge through the help of good friends, neighbors and fellow Lakewood business owners. Because of relationships developed over our years on Detroit Ave, we were able to secure a location in a bank of shops directly across the street from the Detroit Theater.
While moving day was truly stressful, the beauty was that with community support and the help of many hands, we were able to transport all of our equipment and supplies by merely pressing the "WALK" button at the crosswalk and carting our shop's contents across the street. We have been in our "new" shop for two-and-a-half years.
What kind of sign would you choose to describe you?
A scroll bracket sign which hangs perpendicular to a building best describes our business. We chose this because this type of sign can be fancy and decorative or sleek and simple depending on the type of hardware chosen. It is securely affixed to one place yet swings in the breeze freely as it hangs from its fasteners. This best represents our business because we can accommodate a variety of desires, needs, tastes and types. We are deeply rooted in our community and business yet try to be flexible and go with the flow when it comes to change and progress.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just starting their businesses?
Get involved in the community where your business is located. Julie has been involved with Lakewood Chamber of Commerce
for the duration of our entrepreneurship. Lakewood is a very loyal community when it comes to their local businesses. By getting involved you get to know business owners, politicians, leaders, churches, schools and residents... all who become potential customers. Being involved, sponsoring events, serving on boards, volunteering are beneficial ways to get your company's name out there.
What is your favorite hotspot in Greater Cleveland?
There are so many! Happy Dog
, Pier W
, Playhouse Square
, Buckeye Beer Engine
, Mitchell's Ice Cream
... we love supporting local businesses, especially the ones who support our business!