GTPulse: Abby Clear On Entrepreneurship and Giving Back

Before it was a Netflix series, hashtag, or bestselling book, Girlboss was a term coined by Sophia Amoruso to describe herself. The young entrepreneur grew a multimillion-dollar fashion empire through blood, sweat, tears, and a little moxie. Her book, Girlboss, inspired young women everywhere to embrace what they love and develop skills in their passion so they can do the kind of work that will bring happiness or fulfillment. As a young woman who followed her dreams to start a successful brand, I can’t help but think that Abby Clear is a bonafide Girlboss, too.

Lakes and Grapes is a Traverse City-based lifestyle and apparel brand, and also, Abby’s brainchild. However, it wasn’t a straight path to get there. Like many who grow up here, Abby left and came back after some time spent away from home. After high school, she went away to college to play volleyball in New York. Before graduating she transferred to the University of Minnesota where she studied communications and marketing, with a focus in the sports industry.

“You always end up with a few different jobs before getting into entrepreneurship. So, my career first started in sports marketing and media. I worked for college teams and pro teams and did some reporting for the Big 10 network.”

She liked the work, but entrepreneurship had always been a dream of hers. When she moved back home to Traverse City she was thinking about how to set off on her own.

“I’ve always been passionate about the wine industry. Obviously, Traverse City has a great wine industry here so when I moved back, I worked as the marketing and operations director for a local winery here. That’s when I started a blog called Lakes and Grapes.”

The blog was filled with information and experiences on local wineries, paired with Instagram-worthy photos to entice readers to make a visit of their own. The positive interaction the blog was getting was exactly the kind of inspiration that Abby was looking for.

“I realized what Lakes and Grapes could be, so that’s when I started making the transition to turning it into an apparel and lifestyle brand.”

She launched Lakes and Grapes in July 2018 and, in not even three years’ time, has a successful storefront, recognizable brand, and strong sense of social responsibility.

The Environmental Initiative is an ongoing effort that donates a tree for each Environmental Tee bought to a National Forrest. More recently, they donated 10 meals to Feeding America for every purchase over the holiday season.

“We’re always looking for ways to make a positive impact. We’re a small business, but a mighty one.” 

Abby has successfully created a brand that she’s proud of, and that gives back. Though the path wasn’t always clear, she knew it was always the plan.

“Creating the designs, copywriting my trademarks, becoming an LLC, I’ve designed everything myself. You know, I quit my job and said, ‘I’m going to go for this. I’m going to go all in.’ It’s definitely not easy, but it’s been a great journey.”

She’s carried some of that early drive she had as an athlete over to her business. When things got tough, she persevered, and giving up is never an option. Abby acknowledged how intimidating it is to start a business, but the only alternative to following through with it is not following through. She encourages all who have their own dreams of entrepreneurship to think both carefully, but not too much.

“You just have to do it. You obviously want to be smart, practical, committed, and creative, but at the end of the day, you just need to go for it. Of course, you’re going to have failures along the way, but if you hustle, you can do anything you want.” 

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Categories: GTPulse