cosmic bobbins focuses on social impact while selling local

When Sharie Renee opened Cosmic Bobbins in Shaker Square two years ago, she intended it to be a simple pop-up shop to sell her works and some gifts made by local artisans. Today, the shop is not only a source to find some of Cleveland’s finest local hand-crafted works, it sells fair-trade items from around the world and has become a leader in social and community empowerment through art.

“We started as a pop-up shop with 15 to 20 vendors at first,” recalls Renee. “In our two years [at the Square], we now represent over 50 local artists as well as fair-trade artists. We’ve definitely expanded in capacity.”
Renee is now focused on local collaborations to create new products in her store. In a partnership with Jakprints, the two companies have created an upcycling initiative and are working on a couple of new Cleveland apparel ideas. “This year we began deconstructing and repurposing misprinted apparel for Jakprints,” explains Renee. “Our collaborative teams developed a line of clothing for Cosmic Bobbins which will be available this week.”

In November, Cosmic Bobbins began a partnership with Classy Little Fashions Foundation, which helps disabled people with non-standard body types find fashionable clothing. Renee will be manufacturing clothing for the organization’s clients, as well as teaching private sewing lessons.

Tremont artist Paul Duda’s Cleveland photography will soon be featured on silk scarves. The collaboratives can only help the artisan community thrive, says Renee. “We want to see what else is possible. We have to be a little more innovative to dream up new ideas.”
Renee spent her first year converting the basement of her shop into a workroom and classroom. She and fellow artists teach classes. Last summer she taught groups of area high school students how to sew and sell what they made through a partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.).
“These are youth who want to go into the fashion industry or be entrepreneurs,” explains Renee. “They learned how to sew, made products and sold them. We also donated a lot of the products to school supply drives.”
With a company credo of giving back to the community, creating jobs in underserved populations through arts-based entrepreneurship, sewing education and outreach, Renee employed seven of her students last summer through the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation and a grant from Neighborhood Connections. She plans to run the same program next summer, with returning students acting as teachers.
Renee’s community outreach work earned her a spot in the latest SEA Change (Social Enterprise Accelerator) class, a collaborative social enterprise accelerator that provides coaching, connections and capital to companies trying to make positive changes in their communities.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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