The Ambassador Series: Katherine Gramann - Milwaukee

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Hi Katherine! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Wisconsin native who spent a few years trying on various cities (Ann Arbor, Michigan & San Francisco,California) and careers (AdWords Strategist & Google Community Manager) before coming back to my roots and finding my fit in the entrepreneurial world. I'm known for my strong work ethic, big heart, sense of adventure, pursuit of beauty, and occasionally irrational obsession with football (University of Wisconsin Badgers & Green Bay Packers). I have an unhealthy love for Drake, road trips, peanut butter, goat cheese, rosé (which is not just for summer,) and otters. Feel free to send me every otter video/GIF/meme you find.

How did Lake Effect Co come about and what made you want to start the shop?
Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin’s Lake Country, escaping to our family’s lake cottage in Northern Wisconsin, and now living near Lake Michigan in Milwaukee has meant that time by the water has always meant a lot to me. Chatting with other lake-lovers and being drawn to people who share a sense of appreciation for the beauty & adventure of lakeside living inspired me to build a community where people could share stories, meet each other, and purchase gear that embodied the feelings of time by the water. So, the business came to life after a few years of dreaming of products, phrasing, and branding that embodied how I felt about this beloved time at the lake. While the community/blog comes first, the retail component has grown pretty quickly - I knew there was an opportunity to build something that had true meaning behind it that people could connect to.

You're also a brand and content consultant; how did you start working in that field and what does some of the work that you do look like?
My background is in marketing, and I’ve been working as a marketing consultant for just over 4 years. When I left Google, I wanted a role where I could make an impact, and I knew that this was a way for me to quickly do so in a huge way in small businesses struggling with their direction, conversions, and online presence in general. We usually start with a major deep dive into them finding clarity about what their brand personality is and their top goals for the web. The hardest part is often their attempt to do “all the things” with no particular strategy guiding the way. I help them prioritize, get practical about what’s sustainable, and clean up their brand voice in all communications. That’s a lot of writing, editing, and tough conversations about consistency.

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Do you have any simple branding tips that people could incorporate into their small businesses?

  • Less is probably more. From an aesthetics standpoint, I see a lot of people with overdoing it with too many fonts, colors, etc. Unless there is a strategic reason why we need to see that, you’re probably passing on overwhelm. You don’t need to be sleek and minimal, but you do need to streamline a bit to keep things clean enough that it doesn’t detract/distract from what you’re trying to say.

  • LISTEN to your target audience. What words do they use to describe their problems, dreams, etc. If that’s aligned with your solution, use them in your copy. This helps them feel comfortable and resonate at a deeper level.

  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Those characteristics that make you and your business YOU are the things to be shared, celebrated and brought to life. People like a story, so if you hide what makes you unique, you’re missing out on making genuine connections with the people who would resonate with you. That said, if it’s in your nature to share less, that’s ok, you’re just attracting an audience that aligns with that. You must know the difference and make a conscious decisions about who you and your audience are before you can attempt to do any marketing.

What makes you passionate about the work you do?
Aesthetics, beauty, service, community and adventure are all very important to me. So, both Lake Effect Co and my consulting work align with those components and keep me filled up.

Why did you want to become a Glossary ambassador?
Community is my thing. And I’ve found that a life full of meaningful connection elevates all areas of my life, so it only seemed to make sense to join a group celebrating one another and drawing attention to communities worth sharing and topics that need to discussed. I love to see how these conversations and connections can truly enhance lives, including my own, so I wanted to be sure to pay it forward by contributing to the self-employed, dream-chasing movement.

What are some of your favorite places in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee is a true gem. If you’ve never been, or haven’t visited in the last couple years, you’re going to want to get here asap, and come hungry. While summer is a magical time to be in the city, there’s a ton to do year round. My favorites include walking the lakefront, Outsider Rooftop, Merriment Social, Colectivo by the Lake, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Public Market. Come hungry and definitely thirsty.

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Find Katherine at: