Fabulous People: Aaron Shepherd

Aaron Shepherd is the owner and creative director of Seattle’s Coastline Burgers, Forge Pizza and Coastline Bakery. “We have an obsession with using the highest quality ingredients, including pasture-raised, drug- and hormone-free NW beef, fresh produce and house-created sauces at each concept.” Learn more about Aaron Shepherd…

Hometown: I grew up in Woodinville, back before it was “wine country.” We had far more deer than restaurants, wineries and stoplights combined.

First job: In junior high I started my first stint of being self-employed. I bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Airheads from Costco, loaded them into lunch boxes and sold them to my classmates during the school day. It was a banging business.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: My wife and I dig being outside hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking and boating in the San Juans. We are huge fans of the PNW, and we maximize our lives here by experiencing as much of the outdoors as possible.  

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Building a company that allows me to have a work/life balance. At some point, I had to recognize that it wasn’t cool to do everything myself and, more importantly, it was detrimental to everything I cared about. That said, breaking bad habits and learning how to build while democratizing and delegating the process is challenging. My wife and I have three young kids and being an involved dad and emotionally available husband is cool.  

The biggest obstacle you overcame: My ego. See the above answer for more explanation. 

Someone who inspires you and why: Tom Douglas and Jackie Cross have always been my inspirations. With their restaurant company, they did it all: creativity, growth, innovative food, customer service and business success. They are good people who help those around them. That’s a home run.   

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Minimum viability! Do not overcomplicate it. Keep it simple, do your thing well and know your audience. You are not the audience.

Favorite quote: “It ain’t like it used to be.” —Robbie Robertson, The Band  

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: Name a movie—I haven’t seen it.

What makes someone fabulous: Oh man, that’s easy—being true to yourself. There’s nothing more fabulous than owning it, working it and going for it every day. Let that freak flag fly, baby.

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