Inside the studio
Slavic Village welcomes the newest and coolest full-service commercial photography studio to the neighborhood.
Em & Cass
Mock Tuna Finds a Home
We here at Slavic Village Development are excited to start a spotlight series on our local business owners to highlight their offerings and their impact on commerce and the community. Showcasing the unique business environment helps support our merchants in their neighborhoods and creates buzz throughout the city and the northeast Ohio region. The eclectic, cultural, and quality products and services offered in Slavic Village allow us to draw visitors to the area and make our community an attraction. Residents have accessibility to indulge in the offerings dispersed throughout the village’s multiple corridors and charming streetscapes. Slavic Village’s historical and diverse identity fosters the atmosphere for a creative and thriving business environment that is growing by the day. We look forward to learning more about what our local businesses have to offer and how they envision their future.
Our first business spotlight features the ultra-charming and multitalented photography duo of Mock Tuna! Their portfolio exhibits work ranging from editorial to catalog and features a melting pot of subjects, shapes, moods, colors, landscapes, products, and styles. Cass & Em are the perfect combination of sophistication, spunk, and sincerity. We are thrilled these best friends and business partners chose Slavic Village for their Tuna home and are eager to see what their future holds.
Mock Tuna’s website states: “we’re em & cass. Best-friendtographers and proprietors of mock tuna. A female-owned, full-service, commercial photography studio and secret downtown cover space for attempting to meet every person in Cleveland.”
Below you can read Slavic Village Development’s interview with Mock Tuna
How long have you been a business owner in Slavic Village?
“Mock Tuna began its business on April 1st of 2021, but the genesis of our partnership began 8 years ago when we connected while working in another studio together.”
What’s the inspiration behind the name ‘Mock Tuna’?
“We went to lunch and ordered mock tuna melts and we threw out the name Mock Tuna. We just thought it was so goofy and funny and it just stuck. When we talked about Mock Tuna; it’s inclusive, it represents everybody. It’s a name that everybody can fall under. And that’s what we want.”
How do you describe your mission?
“We can do some buzzwords: Inclusive, Collaborative, Ever-Evolving, Different, Deep-Feelers, Friendship, Grit, Compassionate, Hard Work-Ethic”
What drew you to the area?
“When we talked about going off on our own, there were certain criteria; a sense of community, and energy behind a mission. You can feel that when you’re in Slavic Village. There just seemed to be such a pulse and a heartbeat around people who live here and people who are wanting to occupy a business here. The buildings here are breathtaking. You can’t help when you drive down Broadway or Fleet, it just screams potential, it’s inspiring, it’s opportunity. There’s a lot to Slavic Village that feels attainable to small businesses. In Slavic Village, anything is possible with hard work.” The duo’s mentality when describing the draw of the neighborhood is “Just give it a chance”
How would you describe the business community?
“Almost immediately, we were welcomed into the business community by Philomena Bakery and Saucisson. Having fellow female-owned business owners offer support and open the doors to the merchant community in Slavic Village made Mock Tuna feel included. We can’t emphasize enough how remarkable Mel from Saucisson has been in helping us forge our newfound path here in the Village.”
Is community involvement important in your business model?
“Although we love photography, it’s safe to say were equally passionate about safety, others, and bringing up the youth with art. We’ve had quite a few ideas, anything from business leadership or women-owned business events, or having some type of workshops.”
Who do you service?
“We rarely say no to a client. We pretty much service anybody, we help them execute their vision. I guess anything that’s super relational is kind of what defines our brand of who we serve. And although we take a lot of pride in our photography, I think it’s safe to say both our areas of expertise are building relationships with people and then the photography, we eventually get to that. I think that’s what people enjoy. Our main focus is, what do the clients like? What are their interests? Do we have their favorite foods? Let’s make sure they’re comfortable.”
What do you enjoy most about (or favorite feature of) the neighborhood?
“We really love the East 49th Tavern. We also loved the pierogi run because it showed us different parts of the neighborhood; “Doing the pierogi run we were able to see different pockets, and we’re like, oh, my gosh, I feel like maybe we drive past this 100 times and we would have never even realized it was here. There were a lot of beautiful things in the midst of something.”
What would you tell prospective entrepreneurs looking to establish in Slavic Village?
“Probably just to get out in the community and to meet as many people as possible. There are resources and people who will help you. The execution in Slavic Village is unbelievable where it’s like no false promises. There is so much follow-through. We would tell them to buckle up because it’s if you want to open a business, they will help you open a business. I feel like anybody opening a small business or any business in that matter, it is one of the most daunting and challenging things you’ll ever do. And I feel like the sense of community and the place that we are, you will never feel like you are alone. And I think that has been incredible for us.
If you could describe Slavic Village in three words, what would they be?
“Cultural, Eclectic, and relational.”
How do you envision the future of the business community in Slavic Village?
“It is just going to keep growing and growing, which I think that’s really cool because it’s like you see something that is really positive and you wonder how it can get even better. We’re here because of all the people who believed in Slavic Village and worked so hard before us. It’s all those people that have put the time and effort to do Rooms To Let or open their businesses, they have paved the way for us to come in. We’re so excited to be piggybacking off of what those people have done to give new businesses that come in now and in the future the opportunity to thrive, it’s going to be, insane.”
All pictures were provided by Mock Tuna