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Profile: Stephanie Sheldon on The Cleveland Flea and Indie Foundry

Kurentovanje
Mini Cleveland Flea
Saturday, February 23
Noon – 6:00 pm
Facebook Event

Cleveland is home to a thriving community of makers, handmade artists, and creatives and beginning in April, the transforming St. Clair/Superior district will tap into those resources as the destination of the new Cleveland Flea. The pop-up happening every second Saturday between April and November will be a curated market of locally made goods, vintage finds, services, and workshops. That means jewelry, art, clothing, and food, along with vinyl from your friends at Cellar Door. 

The Flea is the newest venture from Stephanie Sheldon, who is also one-half of the Indie Foundry collective. Created with co-owner Carrie Nardini to assist and connect entrepreneurs in Cleveland, the Foundry was asked to help with the start-up of the first annual Slovanian Kurentovanje celebration this weekend and will also serve as a mini Cleveland Flea.

“We’re looking for artisans, bakers, and food vendors, food trucks, vintage and estate sale items, workshops leaders, and creative service providers to get involved,” Sheldon says. “We’d love to make this a vibrant way for Cleveland to spend its Saturday.”

The Cleveland Flea is currently accepting applications for their first season. There are also plans for a pop-up food truck restaurant located in the Coppertop Building, pop-up shopping for architectural salvage and vintage items, and a series of workshops.

We talked to Sheldon about her passion for handmade and vintage, her inspiration for starting the Indie Foundry, and what to expect at this weekend’s Kurentovanje.

 

Have you always been a handmade, craft, and vintage enthusiast? Are you an artist and crafter yourself?

Yes, I’ve been collecting and making for as long as I can remember, and I truly love a good treasure hunt! 

I am trained as an architect, but I’ve been making and crafting things myself since I was a little girl.  I’ve refinished furniture, built out spaces (like the Cleveland Hostel), sewed children’s clothing, and I also make and design handmade wedding invitations.  I’ll find a way to make just about anything!

 

How did you recognize a need for something like the Cleveland Flea?

Well, I’ve visited a bunch of flea markets across the US and always thought Cleveland was lacking one. Plus, with the rise of the artisan economy, it’s a real way to connect to and support small creative businesses, who are my client base.

 

How did you decide the St. Clair/Superior neighborhood was the right neighborhood and place for the Flea?   

I was approached by Michael Fleming (of St. Clair Superior Development Corp) about a grand idea he has to transform and revitalize the wonderful bones of the neighborhood into a mecca for artisans, upcyclers, and ethnic festivals.  The Flea is a natural way to support his ideas and get the city engaged with the neighborhood.

 

How did you develop the idea for the Indie Foundry? Why did you think it was important to create a collective to support creatives and makers in the community?   

Indie Foundry began with a simple idea:  collaboration + connection. I reached out to my business partner, Carrie Nardini (of I Made It Market in Pittsburgh) because I wanted to provide creative entrepreneurs with more support to grow their businesses. I knew that we had the same client base (artisans) and she served the community on the ground with events and craft markets, as well as business visioning.  I provided visioning and branding, and I knew we would be a fit and be able to grow a community of creatives. Our motto is “A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships,” which we translate more literally into workshops (Crafting Community + Culture), connection events (Create + Connect Happy Hours) and growth opportunities (The Cleveland Flea / Pop Up Shops).

 

Can you tell us a little more about your involvement with the Kurentovanje event on the 23rd?  

We were approached by Michael Fleming and the Slovenian Community to help plan and brand Kurentovanje, the biggest Slovenian Festival of the year in that culture.  We provided branding as well as a kickoff for The Cleveland Flea and Crafting Community + Culture to round out the experience for the public.  In addition to branding, we provided media connection and event design.

 

As part of the Indie Foundry you’ll have crafts for kids at the Kurentovanje. Where did you come up with the idea and why did you think if was important to teach kids about culture through arts and crafting?   

We approach everything with a creative + collaborative mindset.  Indie Foundry is invested in teaching through workshops and connecting people, so we wanted to make sure we could bring that mission to Kurentovanje as well.  Crafting Community + Culture is all about the intersection of good design, culture, and kids.  We want it to be fresh, fun and thoughtful at the same time.

After the Kurentovanje, meet with Indie Foundry’s Stephanie Sheldon to learn more about vending in the first season’s Cleveland Flea. Details here.

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Nikki Delamotte

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