CBIA BizCast: Unlocking Connecticut with Lora Karam and Bev Canepari
For best friends Lora Karam and Beverly Canepari, traveling around Connecticut is more than just a hobby, it’s a growing business.
Karam and Canepari are the creators of Unlocking Connecticut, a website and social media platform devoted to highlighting the best places to visit, shop, and eat around the state.
Karam said their goal is simple, “promoting small business and having fun at the same time.”
“We try to keep it light and engaging and spreading the message of businesses in Connecticut,” she said.
Karam and Canepari started around eight years ago, as Unlocking Litchfield.
They were inspired to start a blog while chatting on a train ride home from Fashion Week in New York City.
Best Friends, Business Partners
“We were just talking about blogs and what ones do we like to follow and we were like, ‘we should start our own in Connecticut’,” Karam recalled.
“That was February, so two months later, we were up and running. Eight years later, here we are,” she said.
Unlocking Litchfield eventually became Unlocking Connecticut as they got more requests from businesses around the state.
They now highlight everything from restaurants and shops, to spas, museums, farms, and cultural attractions.
They said everything stems from their natural curiosity and their love of Connecticut.
“We both like to explore, we like to meet business owners and see what’s behind the doors or places that we drive by all the time,” said Canepari.
“I think what inspires us is just to learn more about the state and where else can we go and try new things,” added Karam.
Unlocking Connecticut creates paid features for businesses.
They work with business owners to personalize the experience, and highlight the business with Canepari handling the photography and Karam doing the writing.
“It’s our experience there and what we love about it and what we think our readers will love,” said Karam.
“They get to know the owner a little bit so when they go in, they see the owner and they feel like they know them already before they’ve gone into the store.”
Helping Small Businesses
Along with posts about specific businesses, Unlocking Connecticut also creates broader features like gift giving guides, or highlighting everything to do in a specific town.
“A big thing that we do are day tripping posts where we’ll pick one town, go there, and show our readers,” said Canepari.
“Here’s where you get coffee, here’s where you have lunch, go for a hike here, get a little bit of culture here, go shopping there.”
Karam and Canepari said the response and reaction they’ve received from small business owners has been amazing.
“They’re juggling every aspect of a business, not just selling a product, they’re marketing, they’re trying to do it all,” said Canepari. “So we try and help a little bit.”
“It really makes us feel like we’re helping with the state and business,” said Karam.
“We’ll get emails from a company that says the first 10 customers today mentioned you from the blog yesterday, so it’s really rewarding.”
Unlocking Connecticut is truly a passion project for Karam and Canepari, who each have full time jobs.
“It’s our way to be creative, and it’s what we love,” said Canepari.
“So it’s not like another job, it’s just like breathing.”
As their following grows, Karam and Canepari say they don’t think of themselves as influencers, but rather cheerleaders for businesses in the state.
“People need that,” said Canepari. “It’s hard to talk about your own business or your own self sometimes, so let us do it for you.”
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