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 Robin Sweeney of Cosmic Girl Goes Home
Cosmic Girl Goes is an eclectic shop owned by stylish entrepreneur, Robin Sweeney. Cosmic Girl's booth is filled with naturally, globally and rustbelt-inspired home goods and decor with bright pops of color, and the occasional deer figurine. Flea Founder, Stephanie Sheldon, caught up with Robin and learned a bit about her behind-the-scenes.
SS: How would you describe Cosmic Girl Goes Home?
RS: Cosmic is vintage home decor with a nod to current design trends. With so many vintage dealers out there it's hard to stand out,everyone has great merchandise yet I stick to my one rule: I only buy what I love. I don't buy from just one era, I mix it all up and make it work together. I buy whatever strikes my fancy whether that be junk or girly or mid century etc. I just have to love it.
SS: What was your path to beginning your business?
RS: It started with a set of garage sale tea cups than junking on a regular basis to part-time work in a vintage shop which lead to a small shared space and eventually my very own spot which I opened almost 20 years ago (yikes) and recently closed in order to give in to my wanderlust and sell on the road.
SS: What are your roles in the business?
RS: I am owner, buyer, retailer, stylist, public relations, mover, in effect, I do what it takes to make the business run.
SS: Why do you love what you do?
RS: I've been doing it so long, it's in my blood. I treasure hunt for a living and that's a real rush. I especially love the display part of my job. Curating and styling my finds to make it appealing to customers so they can visualize it in their own homes.
SS: Why does Cleveland need a business like Cosmic Girl Goes Home?
RS: Lol, I don't know if anyone needs anything, but I'm happy to be a part of this crazy vintage world and recycle the past for younger generations. There's a beauty and simplicity to vintage, history if you will, that doesn't happen with big box design. Vintage adds a certain element that makes a house a home.
SS: Why is Cleveland a great place to own a creative business?
RS: There's a great young vibe to our city. They can't get enough of the Cle. It's fun to be a part of that movement. Cleveland is just small enough to build a base before branching out to other areas.
SS: What's the best / most difficult part of running your own business?
RS: Pricing. What something may be worth in one city or on ebay doesn't mean one will pay that. We live in thrifty times and I try to keep my items priced to move especially now without a storefront. I don't want to be hauling the same items from show to show.
SS: What are your goals for the business this year?
RS: My goals are simple, the same goals I've always had, love what I do while trying to make a living.
SS: How did you manage to stay sane during May Flea? (Sidenote: This was our worst weather day ever, and though building a creative business looks fun from the outside, there are many storms to weather. One was a real storm, during our May 2016 Flea.)
RS: No. Not at all. I was going to Paris to be a fashion designer. Only problem, I can't sew, hate it more than algebra.
SS: Did you see yourself growing up to be a vintage dealer / treasure hunter?
RS: When I closed my brick and mortar. It only took 18 years to figure that out. The sense of freedom when I unloaded that expense and hit the road, I can't describe. Finding my way now is challenging yet it's all on my terms. No more giant financial burden on my back.
SS: Who inspires you?
RS: My husband. He always has my back no matter what. He's so good and kind, he makes me want to be a better person. This motivates me to keep going even if I completely fail.
SS: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
RS: Yes, I've learned you must have weights to hold down your tent lol. No, really, I've learned Cleveland is my home and where I have a following. My biggest support comes from my loyal patrons who shopped my store and now come to find me at the Flea.
SS: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
RS: How to please everyone. I've learned you can't so I focus on being true to my soul and it translates into how I run my business.
SS: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
RS: Don't quit your day job. When starting out, you can put all your eggs into your new business, but the stress of that can be crushing. Having something on the side that pays the bills when times are tough is important.
SS: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
RS: Oh, that's tough. I guess to a lot of people not in the business, they don't understand how it all comes to be. Shopping, hauling, cleaning, displaying, pricing, there's an art to it. I don't just buy something and throw a price on it. It's a lot of hard, manual work that I somehow still love.
SS: How would you hope Cosmic Girl Goes Home is described by your Dream Customers (those clients that really love you)?
RS: I want people to feel comfortable and happy buying from me. When they love what I love than I've done my job. Making it affordable is also important to me. I'm not giving my merchandise away mind you, but if I can make it easier for one to make their home awesome, that's a big bonus.
SS: What's the most amazing thing you've ever found?
RS: There's too much to mention. One thing is always better than the next. Thrill of the hunt is what's amazing.
SS: Anything you've found that you just couldn't sell?
RS: My vintage Pyrex collection, my campaign dresser, and my taxidermy swordfish. Oh yeah, and my unbelievable shell chandelier.
SS: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
RS: Ampersand. I love her and she has a great eye.
SS: What do you spend much of your time doing?
Being a mom and stand up paddleboarding. I try to get on the lake as much as possible!
SS: Favorite spots in Cleveland?
RS: Luchitas, El Carnicero, Mama Santa's, Anthropologie, the lake.
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