This post originally appeared on the Roanoke Outside Foundation blog:
If you’re reading this, we’re going to assume you like the Roanoke Region, but do you like it enough to build a business around its identity as an outdoor destination? We ask because that’s what Saralyn and Stephen Hamilton, owners of the new Roanoke Lifestyle, did! Roanoke Outside’s origin story is one of attracting business and residents to the region, so a tale about a business that was inspired by our region’s outdoor culture is right up our alley! Read on to learn more about Roanoke Lifestyle in our newest “5 Questions” segment.
What is Roanoke Lifestyle?
Roanoke Lifestyle is a retailer of quality signature products that invoke feelings of pride, adventure, and love for the place we call home. Our logo is an unmistakable representation of the attributes that draw people to our region (mountains, rivers, and, of course. the Star). Connecting people to place is at the heart of everything we do. It’s our mission to serve as ambassadors for our outdoor community by supporting local efforts to preserve and enhance the places where you, “hike, bike, paddle, run.” You can check out a little more about us on our website.
What inspired you all to start this business?
We are a family of four, plus one English Springer Spaniel (Bishop), that seeks adventure. I wouldn’t call us adrenaline junkies, but we get a nervous twitch if we’re confined indoors for too long. We like to acquire stickers along our journeys and add them to the collection on our cargo top, appropriately named “MeShell.” Along one of our trips to the coast of Georgia, we saw a hat with a unique logo for St. Simons Island (SSI). We needed a sticker, so we tracked down the shop and were immediately drawn to their products. It was much more than a logo, it was a lifestyle brand that was beloved by the community. We left that shop with much more than a sticker. The rest of our stay in St. Simons we were consumed by the idea of creating a logo and lifestyle brand for Roanoke–one that would capture the same essence we experienced. After hundreds of iterations, we designed a logo, defined our purpose, constructed a team, and launched.
How do you see Roanoke Lifestyle impacting the Roanoke area in the greater Blue Ridge?
It goes back to connecting people to place. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective to serve as reminder to enjoy and appreciate the things we hold dear. We follow, support, and identify with brands that inspire us. We want this for Roanoke, and like any true fan, we believe the best of Roanoke is yet to come. If that’s your sense too, then it’s our hope you will promote this region alongside us.
What are your personal favorite products and why?
No question, the imperial performance hat and our NEW, “Letting it Shine” t-shirt. Stephen is a hat aficionado, and he swears it is the most comfortable/versatile hat in his collection. It fits like an old favorite, it’s made of UPF 50 (so it protects your noggin outdoors), and it is ultralight, which makes it an essential travel companion. The “Letting it Shine” t-shirt has the most sentiment and has turned into our most unexpected success. We had an opportunity to meet Mr. Bob Kinsey, a Roanoke native whojust celebrated his 98th birthday. Bob’s father, Roy, started Kinsey Sign Company at the turn of the 19th Century. In 1949, the Kinsey Sign Company was hired to design, manufacturer, and install the Mill Mountain Star. Bob’s story was inspirational and we have replayed the conversation many times over in our heads. Before meeting Bob, we landed on a design to commemorate the Star just before it’s 75th anniversary. It was apropos, considering the recent news and media covering reports involving plans to eventually repair or replace our iconic landmark. “Let it Shine” has become our anthem to rally community support for our iconic Star and 10 percent of proceeds from those sales will go back to restoration efforts!
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start a business in the Roanoke Valley?
Roanoke is budding with great ideas for businesses and commerce. Like most things, it’s much more rewarding when you start channeling your ideas for a new business by starting from a place of passion. Great ideas can die on the vine without a central purpose and vision for your company. We had a lot of help in this area. Specifically, from our friend Erica at Blue Honey Rose. She is high support and high challenge. You need both to get your compass pointed in the right direction. This is a great community, and now more than ever, you can connect with people who will help support your vision. So get out there and start connecting!