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Inspiring Conversations with Shana Beach of Chase Street Accessories & Engraving

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shana Beach. Them and their team share their story with us below:

In 2017 Shana and Chris Beach invested in a two-unit rowhome in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods and moved into the top half of the building. The bottom floor, previously a gift shop named “Chase Street Accessories” and still bearing the sign, had been converted into an apartment. When the tenants moved out at the end of 2018, Shana joked over New Years Eve drinks that despite her and Chris’s full-time jobs, it would be a good time to open that “trophy shop” she’d wanted since working in one in high school. To her surprise, their friend and neighbor Robbie immediately responded, “If you open it now, I’ll run it for you!” By April 2019, the team had collected the permits, equipment, and inventory and officially re-opened the shop as “Chase Street Accessories.”

The business was originally named “Chase Street Accessories” because the sign had been on the building since 2004 from a store that shuttered in 2009. However, it became time-consuming and unintuitive to explain the business, and the name affected SEO rankings as well. The business name changed to “Chase Street Accessories & Engraving” in June 2019, generating a significant increase in walk-in and web traffic. Google Maps hits dramatically increased, and it’s much easier to explain the business model to clients. In August 2019, the volume of sales necessitated hiring an additional part-time employee to assist with processing and production, so Lauren joined the team. One year later, she was hired on as the full-time accounts and sales manager.

Chase Street A&E started with just a laser engraver since it provided the most immediate versatility but quickly adapted to client demands and desires. Since opening, the workshop has added a rotary engraver, embroidery machine, sublimation printer, and multiple heat presses. The team originally expected to primarily serve awards clients but realized in a hurry that promotional items are also extremely popular for B2B sales. In August of 2020, Chase Street A&E established its promotional division, which specializes in leveraging a select network of vendors to outsource large projects.

Quite a few individual clients bring in their own items or materials and request engraving, as well. Due to its signage, Chase Street A&E also receives traffic off the street from customers who want to buy a gift off the shelf. The showroom includes a few pre-made designs, or “Chase Street Originals,” that have become quite popular and are visible around the city.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
On March 30, 2020, Governor Hogan announced the stay-at-home executive order that effectively shut down Maryland retail. Chase Street A&E already had an online store in place, so immediately switched emphasis to online order fulfillment. Thanks to Maryland’s COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, Chase Street A&E was able to purchase remote-work equipment and software for all its staff and to this date has not reduced hours or pay. Because the team already had a cloud-based workflow in place, all order fulfillment continued on-time, including contactless pick-up. As the popularity of virtual events increased, organizations discovered that physical gifts were a great way to make these occasions feel more “real.” Chase Street A&E worked with clients like the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Concern, the Maryland State Dental Association Charitable & Educational Foundation, and Chase Brexton Health Care to directly ship tailored packages to annual event sponsors and attendees. The team also leveraged in-house processing capabilities to support local Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturing efforts by laser-cutting fabric to mass-produce a 100% cotton mask with a filter pocket and 3D-printing and cutting parts for acrylic face shields.

The Chase Street A&E team also took advantage of the reduced foot-traffic to update the business plan and refresh the mission statement: “To express appreciation, strengthen communities, and celebrate life events through our design expertise and tailored responsive production.” While the COVID-19 crisis continues to hit the community hard, the team continues to make the best of the situation and will continue to resiliently survive and support its Maryland business partners as much as possible.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Chase Street Accessories & Engraving offers custom awards, branded promotional products, personalized gifts, and Baltimore City souvenirs. Our state-of-the-art engraving and customization services unite in-house production with an international network of socially-conscious suppliers and vendors. The Chase Street A&E production team’s decoration services include laser engraving, rotary engraving, heat transfer printing, full-color sublimation printing, embroidery, and more. The design team also provides layout, design, and artwork services upon request. From the showroom and workshop in the historic neighborhood of Mount Vernon (Baltimore, MD) Chase Street A&E provides branded awards and swag for corporate events, bespoke favors for parties and reunions, made-to-order gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, and keepsakes commemorating distinctive moments in Baltimore history.

Our mission statement: To express appreciation, strengthen communities, and celebrate life events through our design expertise and tailored responsive production.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Take advantage of being a small, adaptable organization in the beginning. You can be more responsive to customer and client desires than the larger, more established firms, so your flexibility will be your biggest asset. As you grow, that flexibility will naturally decrease and your business goals will come into focus. As this happens, be sure to keep your business plan constantly updated so that your team can have a shared reference of the direction you’re headed.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Zhee Chatmon

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