Ally Eclarin

Ally Eclarin

Cofounder, State Champs

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The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.

After being laid off twice in 2023, I took it as a sign from the universe to pursue my dreams and the idea I have been noodling on since 2009.

Ally Eclarin is up.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ally Eclarin and I am seasoned SaaS designer, marketer, product marketer and product manager who recently used my PM skills to open a coffee shop in real life. Right now I am the co-founder of State Champs, a sports coffee shop in NE Ohio and a freelance strategist for Jira/BitBucket and a Product Manager for Wynter.

What did it take/how did you get started?

After being laid off twice in 2023, I took it as a sign from the universe to pursue my dreams and the idea I have been noodling on since 2009. The path to our first location at 427 Franklin was not and still remains not easy. We are completely self-funded with the us both using our life savings to bring State Champs to life. WE have done all the city process paperwork ourselves, from memorizing safety and health codes to learning the proper way to submit exterior signage paperwork to trading plumbing work for freelance marketing services.

To say there was a learning curve would be a huge understatement. Roadblocks and delays have gotten the better of us at times, but the goal has always remained clear: open the shop and bring this community together. The concept of the shop was: we want there to be more than one way to enjoy sports in your community. Traditionally, if you want to go watch a game in a public setting – you go to a sports bar. We flipped that idea on its head by creating a warm and inviting sports coffee shop and brand with a streetwear mentality built with the community in mind.

Streetwear and sports are both driven by community. Both of which bring people together, because of that our shop is not your average coffee shop. It is a mix of a streetwear atmosphere and sports memorabilia. State Champs is a third space that is part streetwear, part sports watching, part coffee shop. State Champs feels like you’re walking into a shop on Fairfax that’s part art, part memorabilia, with the aroma of coffee, and the noise of your favorite team on TV.

What does the future look like for you and your business?

We plan to open additional locations and eventually a facility that merges community, coffee, indoor courts and fields, siblings area, and more. The perfect spot for tournaments, practices, and a third space for folks that they feel safe and welcome in.

What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?

Our community. The folks we have met and become friends with in this process keep us going. Getting to see the impact of our brand and events is everything. Being able to be a safe space for folks to be their authentic selves and feel welcome is everything. Also, every "that's brilliant" or "we want to work with you" keeps us going. We have done some awesome stuff and have a really great collaboration coming out this summer that is definitely a "pinch me" moment and keeps us hungry for more.

What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?

It's hard but keep effing going. It's worth it if you love it and the moments will be hard but the feeling of doing what you know is for you and your community is everything.

What has been the hardest part of your business journey?

The unknown. There's unknowns to every business and being able to ride those lows and get through them are tough. SaaS and coffee shops are so vastly different. SaaS and opening a coffee shop are pretty different. Working in start ups spoiled me a little with instant gratification and the "quick wins" and the average deal size. Coffee shops are a slow burn and they really test your patience with the ebbs and flows of traffic.
How have you managed burnout thus far?
It sounds so basic but moving my body and putting my phone and computer away. Working out, playing catch with my kids, playing basketball, and rewatching my favorite movies. Working out has been so helpful and a great fix for burnout.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg Armchair Expert Podcast to listen to other people's life stories Peloton and just escaping in a ride Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters Even fiction books as a way to get lost in a story and get inspired for your own business.

List the founders
Ally Eclarin and Cassy Kopp

How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
90+ for both of us - constantly working on it unless we are asleep or being parents
# of Employees?
4 part time employees
When did you start?
08/01/23 officially an LLC
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
We are self-funded and have not raised any money to date. we are in the process of doing that now.
Annual revenue?
Not provided.
Projected revenue?

Not provided.
What's the #1 thing you need right now?
Raising money

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Ally Eclarin

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