Lake Shore Drive founders in front of graffiti wall in Chicago

Julianne and Katie of Lake Shore Dive are Connecting Chicago with Art, Music, and Cocktails

Whether you’re from Chicago or its surrounding areas, you should recognize its unique ability to develop ultra-creatives. The Chicago community thrives on self-empowerment and collaboration – no matter how big Kanye and Chance get, they can list off at least 10 supportive Chicagoans who helped them rise to stardom.

Enter Julianne and Katie: two Chicago natives with a passion for the culture that their city has cultivated. Through their innovative pop-up bar, rightfully titled Lake Shore Dive, the two plan to uplift local artists, musicians, and collectives and share their work with those who will appreciate it.

Lake Shore Dive serves as an opportunity for the music and arts community to connect over signature drinks and signature art pieces – all for the sake of Chicago’s togetherness.

In preparation for their upcoming Who Run The World? (Girls) event, I spoke with Julianne and Katie about the origin of their relationship as business owners and the inspiration behind one of Chicago’s most creative platforms.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Founders of Lake Shore Dive in Amsterdam

I’d love to know a little more about the background of how you guys came together in the first place. How do you two know each other?

Katie: We met in the 7th grade in a music class and we were the two that had…

Julianne: [Interrupts] the two weird ones. [Laughs.]

Katie: Yeah and that had no music skill at all! So we just kinda hit it off and we’ve been friends since then!

Aw, that’s cute!

J: We went to middle school and high school together and we’ve also stayed connected while living in different places. I went to college in New York and Katie has travelled pretty much everywhere around the world. But, Chicago is our home and it’s our favorite city. We wanted to celebrate the amazing music and art scene here, so we’re doing a pop-up to bring opportunities to people all around the city. There’s also room for expansion and to travel or do a Midwest tour. Our core mission will always stay the same: to empower artists and musicians everywhere and to give them a spotlight for their voice.

Really cool. How did you pick this medium? Why a pop-up bar?

J: We just wanted to travel and bring opportunities to people all over the city. We also wanted to test out the idea and see how people would respond to a pop-up rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar. I’m glad that we’re testing it out because now we can do these collaborative pop-up parties.

K: We really just wanted freedom. Going into different directions and trying different things – going around the city and meeting new people. Having one location set in stone just wasn’t what we were aiming for.

It definitely sets you guys apart – it puts you in a really cool niche. I’m sure it’s difficult to start a bar, but I think it’s cool that you guys can hop around and it appeals more to your mission than sitting in one spot.

J: Exactly! That’s what we’re hoping for.

Will all of your pop-ups follow a certain theme?

K: We’ve been doing mini pop-ups and collaborations with different galleries. We were at Grassroots Chicago with Movement Gallery the other weekend and then last week we were with AMFM. The event on this weekend is our own event but ideally in the future we are going to be taking over a bar space for an extended period of time. Right now we’re throwing these mini pop-up parties to meet new people and build a brand in Chicago while finding people to work with.

What’s been your favorite collaboration or signature drink so far?

J: We have a menu with 5 different signature cocktails and 2 shots. They’re all named after Chicago hip-hop songs. We also do custom cocktails for special events. At the Grassroots event we created a cocktail based on the artist that they featured, named Elloo – her work is very vibrant and colorful and there’s a lot of personality so we created a really fun, fruity, colorful cocktail that matched her work perfectly. We got really good feedback on that.

That’s really cool!

J: Yeah, it’s kinda fun coming up with these different cocktails! We’re always kind of changing. At our women’s event we’ll have cocktails named after some of our favorite hip-hop songs by female artists.

That sounds so fun! Product development has to be a breeze for you guys! You just get to make drinks!

J: Yep, exactly! [Laughs.]

K: It’s pretty fun!

How do you pick which artists you’ll name your drink after? I saw in your video you had a College Dropout drink and even a Sunday Candy one.

J: Yeah, that was one of our shots. That’s on our signature menu.

So you just pick your favorite music in general?

K: Yeah, our signature drinks are just our favorite songs or albums by different Chicago artists. When we originally made the list it was basically all Chance and Jamila! [Laughs.] So we had to go in and tweak it to be sure we had a variety of artists. Then each drink had to be diverse – we couldn’t have an entire menu of tequila drinks even though that’s what I’d personally want! We had to make sure that each name fit the energy of the drink. Sunday Candy is sweet and fun. Birthday Sex is a champagne based drink. We had to make sure that the names matched the type of drink that we wanted to serve.

I can easily tell that you’re Chance fans. Not just with the drink names but even with the design of your brand and website!

Both: Yeah, we love him!

J: We used to go to his concerts back in the early days and then we were also big fans of Kids These Days. We’d get there early so we could get in the front row – just girls coming from the suburbs. [Laughs.]

I’m sure they noticed repeat fans!

K: Yeah, I’d think so! We’re also very loud people!

Do you think Chance knows about this? Have you tagged him in any of your work?

K: Not yet. We had some communication with the Pivot Gang and so they know about it and have expressed interest in coming to some of our events and checking things out in person. That’s been really awesome!

Yeah, that’s super cool!

J: Knox Fortune Instagrammed one of our signature portraits of his!

No way I love Knox!

J: Yeah, that was so cool! We’re obsessed with him. We have 5 signature portraits of Chicago artists so we’re slowly revealing them on Instagram right now. We did our Knox one a couple of weeks ago and we tagged him and the artist and he re-posted it on his own Instagram. It was really cool.

Are these the same artists that did the portrait of Kanye? Where he’s sliced in half?

J: Yeah, that’s also a signature portrait. We got all different artists for each because we wanted totally different styles. The Kanye one was more colorful and abstract and then the Knox was one was more cartoon-ish. The Pivot Gang one has really tiny rappers with the background of color. We wanted it all over the map.

K: Yeah, we wanted to highlight different artists and their unique style so we chose people that were very true to their own style. We reached out to them and just asked if they wanted to draw a really awesome person from Chicago. They were down for it!  

I’m sure they’re excited to play a big part in what you’ve got going on!

J: Our signature pieces travel with us everywhere so even if we bring in featured artists to take over a space we’ll always have that back wall of our signature pieces.

You talked about Chance a bit – who were some of your other favorite artists that you enjoyed growing up?

J: Definitely old school Kanye. Kids These Days as well, with Vic Mensa.

K: I personally didn’t really get into hip-hop until I was older. In high school I had more basic tastes…

J: Yeah, I also listened to a lot of Green Day and Radiohead! I thought that was really cool back then.

That was cool back in the day! I’ll still pop on some Panic! At the Disco!

J: Yeah, that’s true! I got into hip-hop probably around my junior year of college in my early 20s.

K: Same. I think my first exposure was Kids These Days but I’ve always been into Kanye. He was the well known rapper from Chicago. I’d go to see Kids These Days live. That hit a spark and made me reach out to find other artists similar to them.

J: Going to those concerts connected us to the Chicago music scene. We were trying to get front row for all of their shows and we met other people who were also into them. It goes to show the strength of Chicago’s arts and music community. People support each other and it’s a fun time.

You connected with it enough that you wanted to start a venture off of that creative element which is super cool.

J: We wanted to bring that vibe to people in different neighborhoods around the city.

Lake Shore Dive is really city specific. If you did grow, would you share Chicago with the world or would LSD learn cultures elsewhere and share them locally?

J: We definitely want to learn about cultures elsewhere but we also want to share Chicago’s roots to everyone. If we’re going to have our signature portraits follow us around, we’re still sticking to our core themes of shining the spotlight on local artists in different communities. Chicago is a big part of us and our brand so we want to bring that with us everywhere.

K: If we were to show up in different cities, we’d bring our signature drinks but we’d try to highlight their community and bring in their artists so they know of all of the talented people who live right in their own local spots. It’ll be inspired by Chicago but we want to highlight their own city to them as well.

What’s been the biggest challenge of sharing this pop-up?

K: There really aren’t proper steps outlined for putting on a pop-up bar. If we were to open up a real bar there’s a checklist that you can find online and go through the motions. With a pop-up bar there are a lot of questions that we have that don’t have answers.

J: That’s definitely the hardest part. There’s been pop-up bars before but usually they have a very niche specific concept like “Stranger Things.” With ours, we want it to be a continuous thing not a one and done deal. It’s been a little tricky to look into the necessary steps for that and we’ve connected with lawyers and accountants to try to take it slow and get it in order.

That’s definitely the trickiest part of being an entrepreneur in any sense! You’re thrown into it!

J: Yeah, there’s days where we don’t think it’ll work out and then there are days where we’re killing it! It’s the life of an entrepreneur.

Mark 💃🏻 your 💃🏻 calendars 💃🏻

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It’s pretty obvious why anyone would want to have an event centered around female empowerment, but was there any particular moment or person that motivated you guys to launch the event happening this weekend?

K: I personally know so many strong female artists in Chicago but you usually hear more about the male artists. I wanted to put a spotlight on all of the ladies kicking ass.

J: It’s also Women’s History Month so we wanted to keep that in mind and center an event around that.

This is super cool especially since you’re two females running the show yourselves. It’s great that you can put on this event and showcase yourselves.

K: We’re trying to make all aspects of this event female. I want our bartenders, event photographer, and videographer to all be female. We’re hoping it can be a 100% female-run show.

Is this the first time that you’ll have live performers at an event of yours? How did you choose them?

J: We’ve been finding them through Instagram and word of mouth mainly.

K: And friends who have different connections to the art scene. We had a few people contact us and we’ve contacted other people.

Pretty much how everything works in Chicago – through word of mouth and networking among different groups.

Both: Yeah, exactly.

Who’s performing?

J: TWEAK’G, Freddie Old SoulDJ Pat Zaddy, and Mai.

I know Mai! I interviewed her a few weeks ago in preparation for her new project. I met her through Brittney Perry.

J: Super cool! I remember when Perry posted a screenshot of the article that you wrote about her and that’s when I discovered the site. I love everyone that you interview!

Thanks so much I appreciate it! It’s all so random – everyone that I interview is from chance encounters. It’s a small world.

J: Yeah, that’s how it works here!

That’s awesome that she’s performing that’ll be a really diverse lineup. What other artists are you featuring outside of musicians?

J: We’ve got those three musicians and then we’ve got two spoken word artists – Kyel Brooks and Resita Cox. We also have some artwork from five different artists.

K: Jaime Lee does abstract and round acrylic oil paintings. We have a photographer who’ll be displaying her work, named Sam Callahan. We also have Dail Kirkpatrick, who does really abstract, colorful paintings. Suzie Shin does sketches of scenes of Chicago and sisters from the Amelia Street Studio will have some prints up as well.

Nice! Super well-rounded with a bunch of different formats. Sometimes it can get saturated with just photographers or just painters, so it’s cool that you mixed it up.

J: Yeah, we wanted a good variety.

K: We wanted each person’s art to showcase their own strengths and style rather than be competing against any other artists. Even for musicians, we wanted everyone’s style to shine through and to highlight their unique voices.

To wrap up: I want both of you to give me 3 words and 3 words only to describe LSD.

K: Inclusive, empowering, and creative.

J: I was gonna say innovative, but creative works.

You gotta do your own 3!

J: Oh, crap! [Laughs.] Innovative, empowering… I can’t think of any other words!

What about Chicago?!

J: That seems too easy! But okay, let’s go with Chicago, empowering, and innovative.

I love it! This idea sells itself – it’s a dope way to connect Chicagoans with other creative Chicagoans all through fun parties and drinks!

J: Wait, can I use dope as a word? That’s my favorite word!

Go for it!

J: Innovative, Chicago, dope.

Bet!

End of interview.

Be sure to support Lake Shore Dive and the women of Chicago by attending Who Run the World? (Girls) this Saturday. Bring feminine products to the event and they’ll be directly donated to women in need. You can also show your financial support for Lake Shore Drive by donating to their Kickstarter.

Follow Lake Shore Dive on Instagram or head to their site to stay connected.

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