It's hard not to be inspired by the artists and makers of the Cleveland Flea. Brilliant, talented, creative. They're tough as bleepin' nails on their ways to making their dreams come true. We began The Maker Series to take a look — behind the scenes, beyond the booth — to see what drives our makers to do what they love and love what they do.
Q + A with Anne Harrill of Oceanne
Oceanne is jewelry and accessories that romance the ordinary, by reminding us how special simple moments can be. Designer and founder, Anne Harrill, believes life's beauty can often be found in everyday pleasures, like sharing coffee with a friend, the flavor of raspberries in season, or the way the right hint of gold on your wrist can give the day a whole new perspective. It is her hope that Oceanne helps you celebrate the big and small moments of your life and and reflects your story with each piece you wear or share.
SS: How would you describe Oceanne?
AH: Océanne is a “play” on my name “Anne” and encompasses my journey and identity coming over the Atlantic. Making jewelry is a way of communicating with others and sharing my story with them.
SS: What was your path to beginning your business?
AH: I was passionate about being involved in my community and connecting with people so I joined our neighborhood arts organization at its inception, in 2004. It’s now called Arts Collinwood. I tried making jewelry and slowly found out how much I enjoyed designing and making jewelry. I couldn’t find my voice for many years in a new country, speaking my second language, so making jewelry was a way to connect with people.
SS: What are your roles in the business?
AH: Owner, Designer, Maker
SS: Why do you love what you do?
AH: It’s an opportunity to use my creativity to connect with others and be a part of the community.
SS: Why does Cleveland need a business like Oceanne?
AH: The world needs a variety of perspectives and i want to share my story and art with others and encourage them to do the same.
SS: What's the best / most difficult part of running your own business?
AH: The best part is having an outlet to express myself and having it received well by others. The most difficult is probably staying on top of all of the wholesale accounts. I’m very thankful for all of the business but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming!
SS: What are your goals for the business this year?
AH: Grow more of my online presence which would allow me to stay home on weekends more with my family.
SS: Did you see yourself growing up to be a jewelry designer / small business owner?
AH: Not at all! I wanted to be a social worker because of a desire to help people find hope and make a small difference in their lives.
SS: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
AH: Participating in the Coventry Street Fair gave me the confidence that I was on the right path. When I was first starting out, there was a nagging question of whether people really like my stuff or if it’s just my friends being nice. That fair gave me the assurance that I had an aesthetic people liked and wanted to support.
SS: Who inspires you?
AH: I am inspired by the women around me, my husband and other artists in my community because of their hard work and dedication to their families and craft. Because of how they balance work and home life and the changes that they make in their communities.
SS: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
AH: The Flea has motivated me to constantly improve on products and introduce new pieces to keep people engaged.
SS: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
AH: Managing wholesale accounts, especially during busy market seasons.
SS: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
AH: Success is having something that’s sustainable. Being able to meet your individual needs as well as provide jobs and opportunities for others.
SS: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
AH: I went to school for social work and I’m a self-taught jewelry designer.
SS: How would you hope Oceanne is described by your Dream Customers (those clients that really love you)?
AH: I want my clients to see my work as unique and creative. I want them to constantly see new sides of me and my art and still feel as though they can find pieces that fit their individual styles.
SS: What's the most amazing thing you've ever made?
AH: It always changes! Every collection is a representation of where I’m at creatively and what’s inspiring me at the time. I do love the Daybreak rings
SS: Anything you've made that you just couldn't sell?
AH: Not anymore...I used to have a harder time with this but because I view each piece as a part of me, I enjoy sharing it with others and having them enjoy the piece as i do.
SS: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
AH: Fresh Camp, for sure! The students that design and produce the merchandise are like family, I have seen these kids growing up, and watching them learn about business, and be part of the Flea, which is one of my favorite thingin Cleveland...and I’ve enjoy watching them grow. The founder, Doc, is pretty cute too :)
SS: What do you spend much of your time doing?
AH: I love being around people so probably spending time with family and friends.
SS: Favorite spots in Cleveland?
AH: The cleveland Flea! Banyan Tree, Greenhouse Tavern, Coquette Patisserie, Mitchell’s Ice Cream and enjoying all that University Circle has to offer!
SS: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
AH: The cost of living makes it easier to strike out and start a business and rent a studio space. Also, there’s a really strong, passionate creative community that has been extremely welcoming.