If Etsy and the Yellow Pages had a baby, it might look like Made Cleveland. Set to launch this Saturday, May 23, Made Cleveland is an online e-commerce hub and directory featuring local artists and makers—and is ready to fill in the gaps and meet demand in the absence of in-person markets this season.
“Even before COVID happened, [Cleveland Flea] had announced they were pressing ‘pause’ on their events for the year, which would mean a big [financial] hit for some of these vendors, so I started to lay the foundation and accelerate my plans for Made Cleveland,” shares founder Ash O’Connor, who says the idea first took shape last November. “Cut to COVID and a lot of restrictions and cancellations [for in-person gatherings], and I knew we had to go full steam ahead.”
Made Cleveland is ready to launch with approximately 70 local vendors on board.Less than two months later, Made Cleveland is ready to launch with approximately 70 local vendors on board, including Yates Perfumes, Blush Boutique, and Odyssey & Oddities. Vendors pay a monthly fee of $5 for membership, along with a 10% commission on any sales.
Shoppers can search the website by vendor, price, and product type while discovering and supporting local makers.
“We’ve curated a really great collection of locally made goods,” says O’Connor. “We’re excited to help generate revenue for these artists and help Clevelanders get their fix of locally made goods.”
O’Connor hired Deanna Dionne of Cleveland Street Glass to create the website, which she says was a “match made in heaven” due to Dionne’s high familiarity with the local maker scene. “As an artist who has participated in a lot of markets here in Cleveland, she understood exactly what I was trying to accomplish,” says O’Connor.
Offering everything from soaps to sculptures, Made Cleveland is as eclectic as O’Connor herself, who hails from a wide professional background. Throughout her career, O’Connor has worked as an operations manager in a manufacturing company; a stakeholder in a hyperlocal newspaper; a flute and clarinet repair person; and a food and beverage manager.
She relocated to Cleveland from Philadelphia three years ago, and she hasn’t looked back since.
"Cleveland is America's best-kept secret," says O'Connor, who resides in Cleveland Heights. "I've fallen in love with Cleveland, and you guys are stuck with me now."