Find Your “Lakeshore Drive”: Pursuing Passion and Creativity in Entrepreneurship

By: Sean Stapleton and Katie Ford

Co-Founder of Lakeshore Drive, Cooper Kirby

What is your Lakeshore Drive?

You might have no idea what that means. Cooper Kirby wants to change that.

For student entrepreneur and co-founder Cooper Kirby, the passion to promote positivity in the lives of those around him manifested the creation of Lakeshore Drive, a clothing company rooted in the message of inspiring others to live their best lives. As Cooper explains it, “Think of your lakeshore — a place where you’d rather be, or an interest you’d rather be pursuing; your lakeshore drive is what continuously pushes you through life and is your desire for more.”

The life of a student is characterized by endless study hours and sleepless nights, and it’s often hard to find time to pursue your true passion. Or, as Cooper would say, “what makes you purely happy.” However, Cooper believes that one of the most integral facets of a person’s life is to stay true to their passion. For him, that passion is to encourage others to find their best lifestyle, which he aims to achieve through Lakeshore Drive.

As Cooper was finishing his senior year of high school, he began thinking about his future. Like many of us, Cooper was struggling to decide what the right path was for him. Cooper and his best friend, Ryan, held similar mindsets, both feeling they were destined for something great, although not knowing what that greatness may be. The answer to their uncertainty came while on a post-graduation road trip to Colorado. The time spent on their own cultivated some deep thinking — “What do we really want to devote ourselves to?”

Cooper and Ryan decided the answer wasn’t about money, but rather spreading positivity. Passionate about photography and fashion, the two friends settled on the idea of a clothing company. “We wanted to have a place in other people’s lives. Not so much an idea that’s going to make money.”

Cooper believes Lakeshore Drive encapsulates the message that it doesn’t necessarily have a specific identity, lifestyle, or audience that it is trying to appeal to — rather, it hopes to cater to a variety of personalities and passions. He wants Lakeshore Drive to take the route of being unique for everyone.

Since starting Lakeshore Drive this August, Cooper has spent most of his time between schoolwork and running the company. He constantly thinks about new designs, ordering samples, shipping, and creating new content for social media. Balancing this work has been difficult, but Cooper believes he’s gaining some of the most important skills an entrepreneur can have, like creativity, flexibility, and an understanding of people. Above all, he believes in being able to “keep a clear head and realize why you’re doing it.”

It’s this ideology that has Cooper challenging the stereotypical idea of entrepreneurship. Cooper is following his own model of running a business. “The reason people should think Lakeshore Drive is important is because it’s an example of how business and entrepreneurship can and should be something driven by the heart.” He focuses on the why rather than the what of the business, striving to make Lakeshore Drive meaningful for everyone — something structured around emotions that everyone can relate to.

Truly a free spirit, Cooper is very open-minded about his future. He plans to stay invested in the company in order to maintain a creative outlet and promote his message, as well as find a way to integrate his company into his everyday life amidst school, internships, and other future opportunities. As he puts it, “After graduating, I could be a high school counselor, continuing Lakeshore Drive, maybe even fishing for shrimp off the coast of Maryland.

Finding ways to pursue his own Lakeshore Drive is an essential part of Cooper’s life. His clothing company is a creative outlet that allows him to live his best life and be truly happy. And although the balance between student life and entrepreneurship is difficult to maintain for Cooper, he says the opportunity to express yourself is worth the struggle.