The pandemic prompted Ash O’Connor to launch a new online sales platform that advocates for local creators.
CLEVELAND – If you ask Ash O’Connor what motivates her, you will be impressed not only with her sense of humor, but also with her passion.
“Lots of coffee,” laughed O’Connor.
All jokes aside, it’s clear that the community is their motivation.
“The fact that we’re all going through this together and building a really great, strong community together has helped everyone do this in a positive way,” she said.
Ash is the driving force behind Made Cleveland, a new online marketplace that specializes in products made here in the Northeast and central Ohio.
Think of it as Etsy for Cleveland. Like the popular website, Ash provides the platform for manufacturers and creators to sell their wares.
“It really helps the creators come together and build strength in numbers,” said O’Connor. “One of the biggest challenges for Creator Space is breaking through the noise … and competing with bigger big stores with deep pockets … [Made Cleveland] Kind helps mitigate some of these things. “
In 2019, 45% of working Americans reported having a “side hustle” to supplement their income or as a creative medium. Ki Charm John Kim is one of those numbers.
“I’m an industrial designer by profession and have been designing furniture, lighting, and living for over 20 years,” said Kim. “And I only started doing things essentially under my own label in 2019.”
Kim now sells his off-wheel pottery and ceramics with Made Cleveland.
Deborah Heinz started selling her butterfly art with Ash after the pandemic shut her other sources of income.
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“Here I sit on all of this inventory and it [was] Panic. Then I was locked out of my hairdressing job too, so there’s a little bit of fear there … then Made Cleveland came along. “, She said.
O’Connor knows about side hustles. Before that she worked as an accountant, bartender and even as a flute. She says those experiences led her to create Made Cleveland.
“This is definitely a culmination of all of my different abilities,” she said.
Ash from Philadelphia, Ash says the idea was born two years ago when she was struggling to find locally made Christmas gifts in Cleveland, her adopted home. Their plans were only accelerated by the pandemic.
“Creators usually tend to get a significant portion of their sales from a summer market,” she said. “”[Knowing those were cancelled] and with this idea in mind and a lot of preparatory work already done. We decided to speed up our plans and bring people an online platform to make it easier for them to connect with their public. “
Ash also opened a pop-up shop in Coventry Village, Cleveland Heights – and says she now has plans to stay here.
“It was also very helpful to be in person and let customers interact with our products in person, not just online, as people love to shop in different ways.”
There’s no denying that Ash has achieved quite a bit in the past year – and she has done it while also getting used to life as a young mother.
“You know, you just make it work,” Ash said as he tried to do anything. “I really love being a mom and a small business owner. I love setting a really great precedent and example for my daughter that she can do anything she wants.”
An example of ’21 strong, commitment and success that is already paying off for your salespeople and for our city.
“I’ve made more sales with Made Cleveland in one year than I’ve done with Etsy in the five years I’ve been there,” said Heinz. “So yeah, I was very happy.”
“Ash is such a champion for us and really a doer,” added Kim. “She and energy and just the passion she has for what she does is amazing and contagious.”
NOTE: The video in the player below is from a story posted on February 20, 2021.