We’ve all heard it before: shopping at a locally owned business has three times the impact on the local economy as a dollar spent at a national chain. But sometimes the thought of getting off the couch to fight through the restless masses is enough to deter even the most dedicated shopper.
Now there’s another option for socially conscious homebodies: new site ShopMadeinCincinnati.com is an online shopping resource offering goods directly from Cincinnati’s best artisans, makers, and craftspeople, all in one location. Founder Maija Zummo got the idea for the site when putting together a gift guide a few years ago, and with the help of a People’s Liberty grant, brought on designers and a developer to help create the site.
With a curated selection of everything from jewelry and ceramics to artwork and grooming products, it promises to be a one-stop shop for the Netflix-and-chill set. I asked Zummo how everything came together, how it all works, and how local makers can be part of the site.
How did Made in Cincinnati get started?
I’ve held various jobs in local print media over the past 5-ish years, and a lot of what I do is find and promote local talent. Despite our exploding creative class, it became hard for me to find these really talented local makers unless I stumbled across them at a craft market, local boutique or trolled around etsy.
And then a little lightbulb went off: If I’m having a hard time finding them and it’s literally part of my job, imagine how hard it is for shoppers to find and shop local makers. And imagine all the sales and exposure these makers are missing by there not being one centralized location to discover and shop local. So I decided to make one.
To manifest the idea, I applied for and received a project grant from People’s Liberty, which is really the only reason I was able to launch Made in Cincinnati. I needed resources and help to build out a team of geniuses — Laura Katz and LeeAnne Galioto, my designer and web developer respectively, who helped me turn an idea into a functioning site. A designer named Chris Glass designed the logo and helped me work through the experience of how to use the site and what it would look like.
This sounds like it will make my job easier (thanks!), but what else are you hoping to achieve with the site? The goal of the website is to help expose these makers to a broader audience, to provide them with an additional sales platform and reach beyond what they’re doing through their own sites, wholesale, craft markets and so on. If people can’t find you, they can’t buy. I really want to help turn these passion projects into careers for people, and by providing a streamlined platform for anyone — anyone from the world wide web, not just Cincinnatians — to shop Cincinnati creatives, anytime day or night, from the comfort of their own home. And because me and my team are overseeing the site, makers can list with me and just kind of forget about it — we take care of promotion, design, sending order notifications, and site maintenance. So how does the process work? The shop allows makers to keep control of their inventory and branding at all times. When they receive an order through the site, we notify them and they ship it out. We act as a discovery portal but also as additional inventory control, customer service and PR cheerleader, in addition to other boring business things.
Cozy, cozy knits going up on the site soon from new vendor @aestheticalwhim A photo posted by Made in Cincinnati (@shop_made_in_cincinnati) on
I’ve met a lot of fantastic local makers. How can they be part of Made in Cincinnati?
We’re always accepting interested local artisans. We call ourselves a “curated” site because we want to make sure that the shopping experience is sort of like visiting a digital boutique.
We want it to be clean and easy to navigate, without pages and pages of excess products and filters to sort through. This ensures that makers are displayed in the company of like-minded artisans who adhere to the same standards of production and quality. We’re looking for thoughtfully crafted items including ceramics, jewelry, woodworking, personal grooming products, screen prints, select artworks, stuff for kids, stuff for pets, gifts and more. If you make it, tell me about it.
Any new artisans or events people should know about?
We’re always looking to add new artisans; right now we’re adding about one new vendor a week. And we’ll be doing some pop-ups and collaborations after the holiday season.
We also have some Made in Cincinnati-exclusive gift sets from Wendigo Tea, which is helmed by Sky White (formerly of Foxy Shazam). He’s a tea freak and started his own tea company to import the best loose-leaf teas from around the world to provide customers (and himself) with an ultimate tea-drinking experience. All the teas are named after monsters — Nessie, Bigfoot, the Firebird. It’s great, and his teas are delicious. Right now we’re doing a promotion where if you sign up for updates, you can enter to win a gift set with an earl grey, bigfoot black tea and firebird masala chai.