A desire to be her own boss and a love for all things curated and collected: that’s what drove Rachael Pusateri Riddle, ’11, to become a business owner.
Riddle is the owner of a couple businesses, actually: The Local Squirrel and GLOW, two retail shops based in Raleigh, N.C. The Local Squirrel was her first passion project, which was born from a love for collecting handmade items at local markets when she was younger.
To this day, Riddle still enjoys going to local markets and fairs – it’s what drives her business forward. Now, it’s about more than just shopping; it’s about hearing the stories of creatives and being able to showcase their unique offerings in her storefront.
“When I was thinking about opening a store a couple of years ago, I thought back to how fun it was to get to know the vendors and hear their stories,” she said. “I knew I wanted to curate a shop for those stories and products to be seen in the way that I saw them.”
Riddle travels all over North Carolina and the southeast to find vendors, and over 70% of the products at The Local Squirrel come from local small business owners, many of whom are Meredith alumnae themselves. She is passionate about giving back to the Meredith community. Outside of her entrepreneurial endeavors, Riddle still manages to find time to come back each year to speak to fashion merchandising majors about her experience in the industry.
As for the meaning behind the name of The Local Squirrel, it’s twofold: both a nod to the friendly squirrels on Meredith’s campus and a metaphor for Riddle’s hobby of collecting. Just as squirrels collect nuts, she collects local handmade items.
And when she’s not busy collecting and selling items at The Local Squirrel, she’s spending her time across the street at her other store in Cameron Village, GLOW.
GLOW’s mantra is simple: “Athleisure… heavy on the leisure.” It’s a retail shop that sells performance wear with a focus on comfort, relaxation, and inclusivity. The shop also sells wellness products ranging from skincare to accessories to home and travel.
Riddle calls herself a risk taker; she’s not afraid to try something new. “I love being my own boss and exploring new ideas,” she said.
When asked what business venture she has up her sleeve next, Riddle said she honestly isn’t sure, though she isn’t short on ideas or grit. Wholesaling, developing a program for local creatives, maybe even podcasting – these are all projects she’s considering. “I am always looking for ways to evolve and grow,” she said.
Riddle isn’t slow to act on opportunities either. Just last year, she opened up a second storefront for The Local Squirrel in Wake Forest, which is something she hadn’t even thought about the year before. She learned the importance of acting on opportunities and being involved in a community during her time at Meredith. “I often said ‘yes’ and through that, I was able to enjoy many opportunities and experiences.”