Currency:

A Welcome From Our Founder

by Ash O'Connor

Dear fellow supporters of the arts and local economy,

Thank you so much for stopping by! We are Made Cleveland: A hyper-local online marketplace featuring some of the best creative talent found in the Northeast Ohio region. As I write this introductory blog, we have been a live site for 103 days. We launched on May 30, 2020 at the beginning of a pancession, and right before a Presidential Election. A few weeks ago, I wrote an email to a colleague describing my determination to start this endeavor now as the ‘solidification of my apparent penchant for masochism.’ Which is a somewhat cheeky (read: admittedly pretentious) way of saying that Made Cleveland is a labor of love. However! Rest assured, there is nothing pretentious about this site which is designed with accessibility and convenience in mind.

The resolution to start this project at such an uncertain time was almost a no-brainer. My original goal was to launch this site in October, but as I saw many markets getting cancelled due to COVID restrictions, I was aware of the massive hit that local creators would take during one of their busiest seasons and just knew I had to accelerate this plan. As it came to light that a substantial portion of the maker population wouldn’t qualify for unemployment with their ‘contractor’ status, and PPP money was drying up quickly, it further solidified my decision as the right one.

"Made Cleveland is in its infancy. Heck, we’re just starting to crawl! But we’ve got big plans for this little baby."

This concept for Made Cleveland is the product of many years of working with artists and makers, listening to similar frustrations over the lack of representation for the little guy, and seeing consistent holes that needed to be filled in a variety of markets. Comparable gripes have been voiced by consumers in terms of wanting to shop local and support artisans more often, but not necessarily knowing how to easily find what they're looking for.

Here, in The Forest City, there are so many amazing artists, makers, movers, and shakers and they all deserve a spot in the limelight! Many have amazing websites and a social media presence, but outside of open-air markets, it can be a fun challenge to find them locally. Between ever-changing algorithms not only on social media but on Google too, it is a constant struggle to fight through the noise and make yourself known. Our solution to this problem is a communal site where we work together to elevate each other's voices.

Made Cleveland is in its infancy. Heck, we’re just starting to crawl! But we’ve got big plans for this little baby. Currently, we’re very excited to be featuring artists and makers, but keep an eye out for us to incorporate music, film, and literature into the fold. Surface level, we’re known as ‘The Cleveland Etsy’ but we’re so much more than that. At its core, Made Cleveland is an online co-op that fosters community and emboldens entrepreneurship.  

"A few weeks ago, I wrote an email to a colleague describing my determination to start this endeavor now as the ‘solidification of my apparent penchant for masochism.’ Which is a somewhat cheeky (read: admittedly pretentious) way of saying that Made Cleveland is a labor of love."

This community-centric mentality can be found not only in the resources we offer our vendor partners, but also in how we interact with our surroundings. Made Cleveland is working on building out a line of products that are all co-branded with the talented creators on our site. A portion of the proceeds from each of our items will go to help fund a nonprofit that will be changing on a recurring basis. Another of our projects, and probably the most key among them, is the work we’re doing in conjunction with our strategic partner, Ingenuity Cleveland, in focusing on intentional inclusivity in the arts. I’ll be sharing more detailed information on this in a separate article as it deserves a tremendous amount of intentional thought and attention.

Be sure to keep following us on all of our social channels like Facebook and Instagram. If you haven’t already, be sure to also enroll in our mailing list that will keep you up to date on different features, new products/creators, and different ways to help support our community together!

Warmest Regards,
Ash O’Connor
Founder, Made Cleveland