Hi friends, it’s Kelli from The Agrarian Collective again. Happy Spring! Finally, right?!  I know the last time I posted here, I said I would be back in the kitchen but I couldn’t help but think that you might be interested in this spring wreath I made last week. The warmer (well sort of warmer) weather, longer days, and hints of sunshine encourage my creativity in a big way. And what’s not to like about adding a little color and texture to drab room?

It all started when I was at Henien’s the other day. They had just set out various the spring branches and I felt  inspired to bring some home to make a wreath. After looking everything over, I decided to go with branches and flowers that would dry well and not need much in the way of care. Now that is seems as though it might actually begin to be spring, you can easily take a walk and forage for various branches just as easily as buying them at a store.

Tools

Here is what you will need:

  • Branches
  • Flowers—I recommend getting something that will dry nicely
  • Scissors
  • Floral wire—you can pick this up at most hardware stores or craft supply stores
  • Ribbon
  • If you have someone to make it with, even better. Sometimes you need a second pair of hands! Thanks to my sister for her help on this!

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First, you will want to form the shape of the wreath.  I happen to think the prettiest wreaths are more naturally shaped than perfectly round. I think that comes from my appreciation and love of Wabi-Sabi. There are many various definitions of Wabi-Sabi, but I think this is a great way to think about it, “Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” It is a Japanese aesthetic and some would even call it spiritual. Here is a link to a great book about Wabi-Sabi called, Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & PhilosophersOr, if you are interested, you can read more about it here, too.

process2

Okay, back to the wreath. Once you have the beginning shape, you will want to secure it with a piece of floral wire. Depending on how thick your wreath is, cut a piece of wire about 4 inches long, wrap it around the branches, and twist tie it into place. Do this in about 3 spots around the base to be sure it is secure.

process3

Now that you have the foundation for your wreath, you can begin to add the details. For this one I used curly willow and a hybrid limonium (which dries nicely). I did this by taking another piece of floral wire and twisting the wire around the bunch of flowers and securing it to the foundation.  When you are doing this, you can move the flowers around to cover up the wire. You may want to use green wire when you are securing flower stems and brown wire when you securing branches, but I only had green at home and you can’t see the wire unless you look closely.

process4

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Once you have the wreath as you like it, you can add ribbon—or not. Sometimes it really doesn’t need anything but the flowers to feel complete. For this wreath, I used a cotton, lace ribbon—just to hint at the feminine side of spring.

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This wreath looks interesting both horizontal and vertical.  I think it’s a good idea to keep moving your wreath around before you hang it to see where it looks best. Sometimes what you think will look the best at the top when you hang it, actually looks more interesting on the side or bottom. So, I encourage you to look at your completed wreath from several different angels before you hang it.

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This was my finished piece. You can see there is imperfection, but, to me, there is beauty in imperfection.  And certainly, this winter AND spring have been far from perfect. While it may be difficult at times, try to find the beauty in what lies in the imperfection that is nature. You may just be surprised at what you find to be beautiful.

We had the most amazing, beautiful day at The Cleveland Flea yesterday.   I am currently typing this from bed because I don’t want to get out!  Though, I think a pedicure and some brunch in this extraordinarily beautiful weather is going to be on the agenda today.

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How brilliant is Mahall’s?!  They brought in a couple of DJ’s who are from Paris, rehabbing a home in Ohio City for the month.  Their collection of vinyl was amazing and they were just the coolest couple.  I can’t wait to see what Mahall’s brings next month!  Happy Sunday, all!

mid morning adventure seekers

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What kind of Flea Shopper are you?

Earlier today, we identified and celebrated the Early-Rising Treasure Hunters. This afternoon we’re moving on to a slightly less-intense species.

The Mid Morning Adventure Seekers see the Flea as more sport than business. A close relative to the Brunch Crowd, these taste makers need to see and be-seen at all the hottest events. With a focus on style, these creatures usually make an appearance mid-day, while the sun is high, the air is warm, and the crowd is at capacity.

They fuel up first, usually tasting what Clark Pope and the food trucks have to offer and washing it all down with craft beer. Their prey of choice is vintage and handmade clothing, and they go in for kill with more joy than hunger. They’re on a first-name basis with vendors like 23 Skidoo, {ode} vintage, Great Lake Outfitters, The Find, and Capsule Clothing.

After their prizes have been collected and they’ve done a fair share of being-seen, the Adventure Seekers are known to get some learning in at Flea Workshops, perfecting their pitch on the Major League Bocce Lawn, or breaking a sweat in the Yelp Ping Pong Lounge.

Although they are shoppers by definition, these Flea-goers tend to spend more energy than cash. For them, it’s more about the doing than the buying. Worn out by all that being-seen, the Mid Morning Adventure Seekers tend to dissipate around 2 pm—no doubt headed home for an afternoon nap, only to reemerge later that evening at the best bars and restaurants.

early-rising treasure hunters

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What kind of Flea Shopper are you?

We’ve identified three distinct species of shoppers and will be discussing their shopping habits over the next few days.

First up, we have the Early-Rising Treasure Hunters.

These rare creatures are up with sun, patiently stalking East 55th St from 8 am until they can quietly slip in a few minutes early. Usually traveling in packs, they tend to employ a divide and conquer strategy. The alpha (fe)male makes a beeline for those large scale vintage vendors like Yellow Door Goods, The Gallery at Tremont, and City Salvage, quickly claiming what is deemed to be the best finds and handing out out chilling side glances to the other alphas. These packs are need-driven—large apartments and modest homes that must be filled with painfully cool vintage items.

The rest of the pack fans out to get a lay of the land. A trust worthy and graceful pack member commonly known as the retriever is responsible for securing and delivering provisions. First stop, placing an order with Nathan’s Coffee Roasting and while the pour overs are pouring, the retriever hits up Cleveland Bagel Co., obliging the ritual of snarky banter with Dan and Jeff.

After large items have been purchased and left on display with heart-breaking SOLD signs, the pack devours their carbs and caffeine. They then make their way over the the Flea Team booth, purchasing Market Bags for easy transport of smaller goods. The group spends another hour diligently visiting every booth, Tweeting and Instagramming the best of the best. These thoughtful and masterful beasts see themselves as trailblazers responsible for the dissemination of information, leaving digital breadcrumbs for those who will follow. One last pass through food and edibles vendors to pick up a few ounces of tea from t by Sarah or grabbing a late morning beer in the bier garden—anything calming to ease them down from their Flea high.

The group then splits up one final time. The retriever fetches whatever vehicle the pack arrived in, while the alpha and others grab a dollie (or two) from the customer loading zone, and stealthy collect all their early morning purchases. The vehicle is loaded and the Early-Rising Treasure Hunters are gone as efficiently as they arrived.

maker series: wright and rede

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Indie Foundry is nothing if not a community. We are influenced and inspired every day by the artists and makers we work with at the Cleveland Flea, and the clients we work for as branding specialists. On Thursdays, join our resident storyteller, Sarah Wilt, and our partners at Suzuran Photography as we profile some of our favorite Cleveland makers and small, creative business owners. This special series is meant to celebrate them. (Sometimes, we even have cake in their honor.)

Wright & Rede::Jordan Lee

When/how did you start leather-working?

In 2012 leather working was the newest of a legion of creative hobbies I was pursuing. At the time I was looking for a way to slim down my wallet and I wanted to have something made out of real leather. I looked online but everything I wanted was $150+. I thought to myself that I could make my own for $150. So I bought an amateur leather working kit and some scraps of leather and started to learn how to work with leather.

What were you doing professionally before going full time with your business?

I worked in the food service industry for 14 years. I’ve held every position in a restaurant short of owner. I’ve been a busser, expeditor, line-cook, salad-guy, beverage-girl, server, bartender, manager, and hopped back and fourth quite a bit as I moved on to different restaurants. The day I decided to quit I was bar tending at one job and serving at another.

How did you decide to go full time?

It was the start of a really slow night Tuesday night at the restaurant. I had just gotten back from my honeymoon (I got married in October of 2012) and I was standing around bored waiting for the dinner rush. I was having that post vacation dysphoria when suddenly you realize that actual you is not as cool as vacation you. I was leaning on the bar (which you are really not supposed to be doing) staring at my bored co-workers (who were all uniformly 10 years younger than me) and my feet hurt (that’s what happens when you stand on cement floors all day). I thought to myself “Man, this is really what my life looks like. Is this what I want my life to look like?” I went home that night and had a long talk with my wife. I went into work the next day and gave them my notice.

What are your goals for Wright and Rede in 2014?

2013 was all about seeing if I could actually make a living. I thought I was on to a good idea, but you never know until you try. 2014 is going to be all about growth. I’ve made my early mistakes, gained confidence from them, and I have a good idea of what direction I want to grow in. This year is going to be focused more on developing my brand and refining my vision about what I make and how I sell it.

You were a bit of a hobby fiend before starting Wright and Rede. What are some of the worlds you dabbled in trying to feed your hunger for making?

Ha! Hunger is the right word. Are you ready? I’ve made ice cream, butter, yogurt, pickles, bread, beer, vinegar, various forms of cheese, mustard, cured meats, mead, hard cider, ginger beer, kombucha, sour dough, sauerkraut, sour cream, doughnuts, pasta, and probably lots of other things you can make from scratch and also eat. I addition to all that I decided to become a woodworker that uses only antique hand tools, a fine art photographer that specializes in antiquarian photo processes, a gardener, a hop farmer, a blogger, a writer, a poet (during my anguished youth phase), a antique furniture restorer, and an old camera collector. I’m missing a few I’m sure. I thought about starting a business for each one.

Where do you source your leather from?

90% of my leather comes from Wicket & Craig in Curwensville, PA.—one of the last three major American tanneries. Most “American” tanneries use domestic hide but actually do the tanning in Mexico or Chile. A small portion of the leather I use comes from other tanneries I’ll source from sporadically. I just found a little tannery in New York that tans deer hide brought in by local hunters. The rest of the time I’ll work with vintage, deadstock, or salvaged leather as I find it at estate sales.

Who do you look to for inspiration…

  • as a creative? I obviously spend a lot of time looking at other leather workers. Not so much their designs but the way they send their message. Really good leather workers have a “look” that is all their own. I like to try to find older examples of their work and see how it changes as their message changes. I like to focus on how my goods will look as they get older so I spend a lot of time drooling over pictures of really old leather duffel bags, sofas, and the like. I also have a background in photography so I love to look at old photographs. Light was very important in old photographs. That is something I try to translate onto my leather goods when I’m dyeing them. I also keep two inspiration boards going; one on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/wrightandrede/) and one on Tumblr (http://wrightandrede.tumblr.com/)
  • and as a small business owner? My parents. My father has been running businesses for as long as I can remember. I’ve picked up a lot from him. If I ever start talking business with you and I tell you an allegory about a guy smuggling bags of sand or a lazy fisherman, I’m probably retelling something from my dad. My mother taught me how to always deal with the task at hand. I’m quite a worrier and she’s fond of telling me “what ever is going to happen, is going to happen”. Deal with today’s problems today worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow. Some more generally accessible resources I tap into are: medium.com , 99u.com, and the books Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky and The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau .

How has the Cleveland Flea helped your business?

The Cleveland Flea was the very first show I ever took part in. It was the first time I ever really got paid for my work. Not just a friend buying a wallet but real strangers giving me money for what I do. The Flea is more than just a place to buy stuff. It is an event. People are there to hang out and I spend most of my time talking with other really interesting people. Sometimes I’m learning some business tricks from other vendors. Sometimes I get great ideas from talking with my customers. Also I’ve been lucky enough to get to watch other people start their own creative ventures. It’s great to see people in the same boat as you doing well. It makes me think, “Well, if they can do it, so can I.

Have you learned anything about your business by participating in the Cleveland Flea?

I’ve learned that there is a lot of opportunity out there if you are willing to go out and get it. The Flea functions like a hub for people’s creative endeavors. It has developed a creative community that works as a support structure when it’s time to take risks. By being around other people who are taking risks it’s easier to take my own.

What is the one thing (other than leather goods) that you will always pay full price for?

Good service. Servers, bar tenders, car mechanics, whatever. I’ll go out of my way and happily pay more for quality service. Also bagels.

What’s your biggest struggle from an artistic standpoint?

For a long time I had trouble telling people what I did for a living. I felt like I was just playing at having my own business. I’ve recently gotten over that. I still struggle with getting the goods I’m making on par with the ideas in my head. I feel like I’m always playing catch up.

What’s your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?

Learning how to be my own boss. I have to come up with my own goals, what I need to do in a day, what counts as a good job, when to stop working, and how do deal with problems as they arise. It’s might sound strange but it can great tricky when you don’t have a boss or coworkers to tell you if you are on the right path.

Where can we find you…

  • during the day? In my workshop. Probably listening to music or an audiobook.
  • in the evenings? My wife and I like to get out on the week nights. It’s a great time to get out and explore Cleveland. We spent years talking about places we wanted to check out but couldn’t because I always worked nights. The Tremont Taphouse and SOHO are two of my favorites. If I just want to grab a pint I’ll run up to the BottleHouse Brewery, which is right down the street.
  • on the weekends? To us it seems a luxury to not have to do anything on the weekends. Sometimes we’ll go down to Asian Town Center or maybe out to Holden Arboretum, mostly you’ll find me at home with a good book.

Favorite piece of advice as it relates to food/art and/or business?
“Welcome to owning your own business. The ones that make it are the ones that keep showing up.” Second-hand advise via Mason’s Creamery

Your brand is your language.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Your brand is very simply a language that you need to help your clients, customers, collaborators and fans understand.  It all reminds me of when I was living in Italy and my roomie went to grab a “latte” at the local caffe.  I, having studied Italian a little bit, cautioned her to order a caffe latte (coffee with milk).  Well, she returned a bit later to report that she was served a steaming cup of milk.  In the good old US of A, we like to just order a latte, because the folks at our local cafes know what we mean.  We can translate that experience to branding your business and selling your product/services to your clients/prospective clients.  It’s important to translate your language appropriately across all of your platforms so that the message is being received correctly.

Clarity, consistence, confidence (this is where we can help you)

  • When you post, say what you mean.  Get your point across clearly.  Don’t make people guess at what you’re selling.  BUT don’t only be selling.  Sharing what you do, your behind the scenes process, a tiny bit of your personal life, creates a personal connection rather than feeling like cold-hearted spam.  Like I always say, “Do something interesting and talk about it in an interesting way,”.  Then people really want to hear what you have to say.
  • Have a consistent voice and visual style.  Take good photos.  Establish a color that you use to define your brand.  When you post photos that don’t feel like your brand, or that are confusing to people then you are defeating your purpose of teaching them your language.  For example, if you’re a chef and you post photos of food all the time, make sure that there is good light, and even some of the raw ingredients around.  It gives visual clues to what is in that dish and artfully gets to the point.  There’s nothing worse than a food photo that looks like a indescribable pile of mush.
  • Be positive and confident when you post.  Share what you know and even your passion that lead you to begin this business.  We all have those days as small business owners (and people) that just DO NOT go as planned, but if you share lots of inspiring and encouraging posts then sparingly on those off days when you put some of those feelings out there, you’ll be sure to be supported by others who’ve been in your shoes.

If you’d like help creating your unique language and learning how to effectively communicate it to your clients/customers, holla at your girl.  You just might be a great fit for our Brand Blueprint.  We love helping creatives tell their stories with clarity, consistence and confidence.  It’s best to email me at sheldon.steph@gmail.com.  I can even send you an idea of what the Brand Blueprint looks like and how it feels to work with us.

What’s your work style?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Today I want to share a bit about my own work style.  I never really fit in to the 9-5 group, at least I didn’t think that I did.  I like easing into my mornings, making my own lunches, taking a nap in the afternoon if I need to, blogging when I want.  I like feeling like I have autonomy and can make decisions that work best for me.  Now that I work for myself, I have all this autonomy and I’ve actually really settled back into a daily routine.  An interesting distinction for me was to realize that I actually like the 9-5 thing, but I only like it when I’m working how I want to work, on what I want to work, and for myself.  Lately, I was feeling a bit too frenetic.  So many things were running through my mind like client deadlines, reminders to order business cards and marketing material, confirming meetings with a video crew, bookkeeping, insurance, etc.  I’ve never been a scheduler because I wanted to be this free spirit, I guess.  Also, something about scheduling every minute of my day made me feel claustrophobic.  Now that I’m in the middle of growing a business that I love, hiring employees, planning events and really wanting to be on top of deadlines and understanding how I work, I needed to re-evaluate my adversity to scheduling.

When I thought about it, I had 2 main “fears” around scheduling my day:

  1. I wasn’t sure how much time things took me (I don’t like to rush my design process)
  2. What would I do if I couldn’t complete my task in the time allotted?  Would that mean that my whole day would be ruined?

Then, I began scheduling using Google Calendar (my new bff) and this is how I tackled things.  I re-framed those challenges:

  1. Scheduling = understanding your process.  As a business owner, I needed to flesh out and depend on my design process (that thing that I do over and over again to get the results I and my clients love).  Not only does this help in scheduling deadlines, but it’s crucial if you’re going to get better at what you do and learn to scale it.  I’m on the brink of hiring a new designer to join our team and how would I train/teach her if I didn’t even have a clear cut idea of my process and method?  But I also respect the fact that my mind does better when I focus on one main design client per day, rather than try to switch between a few of them.  So that’s how I schedule my design work.  And that’s how I determine my deadlines.
  2. Scheduling gives you a realistic idea of what you can accomplish in one day and also how you like to work.  This was a big lesson for me.  I somehow think that I can get double or triple done in one day than is actually humanly possible.  I’d promise things to clients that I intended to keep, but realistically there was no way that I could ever manage that.  Because NO ONE could manage that.  I also learned that I am most productive when I am able to get a significant amount of work done before noon, uninterrupted.  So that means, no meetings until the afternoon, when I already feel really accomplished.  I also learned that I really like to have mid-range deadlines to work toward in my own way, rather than stack my weekly calendar with deadline after deadline.  This translates well into how I work with clients.  They don’t expect to hear from me daily, but we’ve got our 3 main meetings already booked on day one, so that we both can feel confident that things are getting done.

So how does this translate to how I work?  I feel less stressed because things are in the calendar, not running through my mind constantly.  Google calendar is great, because very easily you can just drag items to a new time-slot if you think you’re going to run behind or you might want to work during lunch rather than totally take it off.  It allows the flexibility that I need yet provides me with structure.  I get more work done, feel more confident about deadlines and taking on client work, and I’m loving diving really deep into my process to refine it, make it feel more like me and be able to share that with future employees (and clients).

Have a great day, everyone!

Terrariums are a great way to connect with nature and are a perfect natural embellishment in any home or office. Now you can make your thumb a little greener and learn what it takes to make a healthy terrarium. Green Thumb Design will supply all of the ingredients, a glass container, a few types of moss, a cool little figure to live inside, and a care sheet for you to take home and maintain your new creation. We’re so glad Spring has finally sprung!  Photos by Suzuran Photography

Date:  April 12, 2014

Time:  1:00-2:30pm

Location:  The Cleveland Flea (inside Sterle’s Banquet Room)

TICKETS

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We’re so excited to kick off our Maker Classes at The Cleveland Flea this April.  And we’ve got something a little bit new for you folks.  Because we love that The Flea is a treasure hunt, Kelli has decided to create a monthly series that encourages that spirit.  She’s calling it her HUNT and GATHER series, where you’ll treasure hunt for containers and then gather at her stand for a lovely workshop.  Her first workshop is centered around that Spring favorite, rhubarb in all of it’s ruby glory.  I’ll let Kelli explain below, but you can be sure you won’t be making your Grandmother’s rhubarb pie.  Nab your ticket  to our Rhubarb Workshop.  As always, our photos are courtesy of the talented Suzuran Photography.

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RHUBARB WORKSHOP

We welcome the official beginning of Flea season with a new twist on our monthly workshops. Allow us to introduce our Hunt and Gather Workshop Series at The Cleveland Flea. Each month, we will offer you a challenge of something to hunt for at The Flea before you gather together for our mini-workshop. Each workshop will be just 35 minutes long and just $25. We think this is the best way to shop the Flea AND become a maker yourself.

Hunt|| Set out to find a perfectly vintage jar or lidded container to store your compote and a bottle to contain your cordial on your bar cart.
Gather|| It’s nearly rhubarb season and no doubt everyone is thinking about making pie. But there are many other things you can do with rhubarb: relishes and chutneys and compotes, sauces, syrups and cordials. The list is endless but one of the best ways to use this beautiful and delicious fruit starts with one bowl. In this workshop I will teach how to make classic Rhubarb compote and fun Rhubarb cordial- the perfect addition to a spring cocktail (think Rhubarb mojitos, Bellinis and a refreshing soda).

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I’m so excited about our upcoming classes that I can’t even contain myself.  We’re partnering with local professionals who want to help grow our creative, small businesses by imparting some of their knowledge.  We’ll certainly be hopping around the city showcasing cool locations (ie creative businesses) and have craft beer and wine on hand during class to facilitate our learning process.  If you’re interested in partnering with us on space or even becoming one of our teachers, send Stephanie an email to sheldon.steph@gmail.com.  Our first class features some great local lawyers who will help us demystify writing contracts and partnership agreements, among other necessary documents.  If you’d like to join a class or teach a class, jump on our signup here.  More information is on its way!

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