Creating Memorable Customer Experiences
Panel Discussion of Successful Lakewood Business Owners

This enlightening educational event is aimed at small business owners looking to elevate their customer experiences. In today’s retail landscape, it’s crucial for small businesses to stand out against big-box competitors and the convenience of online shopping. This event will provide valuable insights and practical strategies on how to craft memorable in-store experiences that not only differentiate you but also foster customer loyalty and drive growth.

Our distinguished panel of Lakewood store owners and 10KSB Alumni will share their experiences, challenges, and successes in delivering exceptional customer experiences. Moderated by Steve Meka, owner of STEM Handmade Soap, you’ll hear directly from:

Key Topics

  • The importance of customer-centricity and understanding your customer’s needs.
  • Practical tips for creating a welcoming and engaging in-store environment.
  • Leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience without sacrificing the personal touch.
  • Building a loyal customer base through memorable experiences and exceptional service.
  • Navigating challenges unique to small retailers and transforming them into growth opportunities.

Learn how to transform your retail space into a destination that customers will love to return to, and discover how small retailers can continue to thrive in today’s competitive retail landscape.

Event Details
๐Ÿ“… Date: January 19, 2024
๐Ÿ•— Registration: 8:45am
๐Ÿ•— Panel Discussion: 9:00am-10:00am
๐Ÿ•— Direct Q/A: 10:00am-10:30am
๐Ÿ“ Location: Lakewood Public Library – Multipurpose Room at 15425 Detroit Ave.Lakewood, OH 44107
This event is FREE, but space is limited. Please register.



Panel Participants

Moderator: Steve Meka, Owner of STEM Handmade Soap

Ines Rehner
Owner, Sweet Designs Chocolatier
Ines Rehner’s journey from a small farm in the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia) to becoming the founder of Sweet Designs Chocolatier in Lakewood is a testament to her enduring work ethic and passion for chocolate. Moving to New York City in 1989 with just enough for a one-way ticket, Ines’s experience in a candy shop sparked the conviction that she could create superior chocolate. In 1995, she opened Sweet Designs Chocolatier, offering over 85 varieties of gourmet European chocolates and earning the distinction of being the only USDA-certified chocolatier in Ohio. Sweet Designs, known for its innovative smartBARK! Organic, three unique lines of chocolates including organic, vegan, hand-painted, and gourmet European-style treats, has become a regional favorite and ships nationwide.

Diana Hlywiak
Owner, Apple Jax Toys
A Cleveland, Ohio native, Diana Hlywiak co-founded Apple Jax Toys with her husband, Allen Singleton, in 2018. Diana’s rich background spans Corporate Photography, Art Direction, and Education, fueling her entrepreneurial spirit. Apple Jax Toys, known for its vintage and modern toy collections with a nostalgic twist, quickly became a beloved fixture in the Birdtown neighborhood of Lakewood. Since its inception, the store has not only become a go-to destination for toy enthusiasts but has also expanded to include locations in Chagrin Falls and Downtown Cleveland.

Carlos Ramos
Owner, The Tea Lab
Carlos E. Ramos, stepping into The Tea Lab‘s leadership in 2016, brought with him a versatile background in graphic design, retail, marketing, and advertising. A Cleveland native with a profound connection to his Puerto Rican heritage, Carlos grew up visiting his grandfather’s farm, an experience that deeply influenced his passion for tea. Under his guidance, The Tea Lab has flourished, expanding its tea selection to over 150 varieties, including two dozen house-made proprietary blends, and launching a successful e-commerce platform. A dedicated community advocate, especially in his home of Lakewood for the past 30 years, Carlos is celebrated for his contributions to local events and his efforts in educating others about tea. As The Tea Lab celebrates its 10th anniversary, Carlos, a devoted husband of 30 years and proud father to three Labradors, is focused on expanding the business nationally and enhancing the wholesale program.


Don’t miss out on an enriching session filled with actionable insights, real-life stories, and networking opportunities with fellow small business retailers. Get your FREE ticket.



Attendee Details
Please enter the Library Multi-Purpose Room from the Arthur Ave.(West) entrance, someone will be there to open the door for you. Registration begins at 8:45am but the Library does not open to the general public until 9:00 am. Parking is available in the Library back lot or on the street.

Coffee and breakfast goodies will be provided.We are glad you are able to join us and look froward to seeing you.

Additional questions? Contact Lauren Small at the Chamber:

This educational series is presented by The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and The City of Lakewood
This event is sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

logos for Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, the City of Lakewood, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses