We had the good fortune of connecting with Rochelle Kramer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rochelle, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Doug and I married January 1, 2000. Looking back it seems appropriate that we would start something new together, new for the millenium, something beyond our marriage but at the time we both had corporate jobs. He was in corporate travel sales and I was in the tech industry. We were in nesting mode. Making small improvements to the home that he purchased in 1996. It was an interesting home with an open beam tongue and groove wood ceilings, walls of glass and a great indoor/outdoor connection with a pool in the front yard. We were on a journey to discover the style of the home and and lo and behold we found out that our home was designed by Cliff May. Our neighborhood was commonly referred to as The Ranchos, but virtually no one in Long Beach knew of Cliff May. The local real estate community did not have an appreciation for midcentury modern architecture, let alone Cliff May. We had visited vintage furniture stores in Los Angeles that knew of Cliff May’s custom work in the Brentwood area, but were not aware that Cliff May had a development of over 700 homes in Long Beach. We enjoyed the discovery process so much and saw the untapped potential for highlighting the architecture in our neighborhood as real estate agents. We both were ready for a change in our careers and our passion for architecture and design lead us into real estate. From the beginning we developed a real estate brand with a focus on architecture and design. With a background in marketing and website and graphic design skills, I created RanchoStyle.com in 2003, to focus on the Cliff May Rancho Estates homes. By 2005, realizing there was much more modern architecture to celebrate beyond Cliff May, Doug and I created SoCalModern.com to showcase the variety of midcentury modern homes throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are Realtors with Remax but we’ve never lead with the red, white and blue branding. We developed our own unique brands, and specialization in architecture allowed us to gain traction quickly. Marketing 101 is specialization and we embraced that approach whole heartedly. Initially our websites were a huge factor in getting noticed along with superior photos. We had great images long before professional photography became the norm. In 2004 we developed a relationship with AtomicRanch magazine that resulted in several homes featured in the magazine. They found us through a Google search. In 2005, we were contacted by Dan Gregory, the editor of Sunset Magazine. He was writing a book on the work of Cliff May. That relationship resulted in 4 homes in the Long Beach Rancho Estates (including our own home), and one in Tucson Arizona. That saying about luck being a matter of preparation meeting opportunity proved correct. We gained momentum in real estate transactions just as these other opportunities developed to provide tours and information about the homes and architecture that we love. I would say it is is important to recognize opportunities to share your passion and expertise with others, even when it’s not for the sole purpose of conducting business. A successful brand is connected to a community. Serving and contributing to that community goes beyond revenue generating transactions. We have been involved with architecture tours and preservation efforts and often offer free design consultations. In recent years, social media, especially Instagram, has been a critical factor in staying relevant, communicating our knowledge and passion, and marketing our listings.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
An architectural tour would be a great way to show off my hometown and the broader southern California area. Some of the options are limited during the pandemic, but I would start with a tour along the Naples canal to visit the iconic Frank House, Case Study House number 25. It’s best seen by walking along Rivo Alto Canal. The award-winning modernist home by Killingsworth, Brady and Smith features a 17 foot front door. There is also a home designed by Ray Kappe. Walking the canal is fun but also enjoyable on the water. Renting an electric boat for a tour around Alamitos Bay and the Naples Canal with a picinic lunch or sunset cruise would be a fine day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband Doug Kramer whose imagination, passion and confidence created the spark that fueled our journey. Scott Parker, a local architect, that introduced us to the works of many midcentury architects in our area.
Peter McMenamin, or Tyler Hogan depending on the photo.