Maker Series: Brooke Kelsey of Kukuli

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 Brooke of Kukuli

Brooke Kelsey is just one cog in the machine that is Kukuli. The young business is a Cleveland and Lima based pop-up shop and distributor of authentic, handmade Peruvian home goods made by highly-skilled hands using methods passed down through generations. Brooke is joned by partners Abbie and Kate, who develop relationships and source product for the business on the ground in Peru. Read on for more insight into the evolution of their business thus far.

Cleveland Flea: What was your path to beginning your business?
Brooke Kelsey: Our shared love of travel and curating a meaningful home as well as a passion for providing resources that enable artisans to continue their craft got us started. It all came from there!

CF: Why do you love what you do?
BK: I love that we get to share the narratives of our artisans and for our clients to do the same—finding value in the unique nature of each piece.

CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
BK: Our aesthetic feels very west coast and unfortunately isn't something that is offered much here. We believe that there is a discerning clientele that loves both bohemian modern decor and knowing the story of where the products came from that they choose to curate in their homes.

CF: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
BK: Creatives here are so eager to share their own resources and learnings to help others succeed. Its an incredibly supportive community and we are proud to be a part of it!

CF: What's the best part of running your own business?
BK: The freedom to make creative choices as well as the ability to allow your personal mission drive decision making.

CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
CF: There is just SO much we want to get accomplished NOW. We have to remind ourselves that building a business takes time and to be patient with ourselves.

CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
BK: We're concentrating on building our network of artisans and establishing our web presence.

CF: Did you see yourself growing up to be a creative vendor?
BK: On some level, we all knew we would end up being entrepreneurs, but none of us would have envisioned it in the form of Kukuli. 

CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
BK: When we were accepted to the Flea!

CF: Who inspires you?
BK: There are so many people to learn from, but some of our favorites are Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia), Michael Jordan, Grace Bonney of design*sponge, and our very resourceful, depression era grandparents.

CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
BK: Share your passion openly and without reservation.

CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
BK: We actually started off intending to focus our line on baby products!

CF: How would you hope to hear your business described by your dream customers?
BK: Everything Kukuli curates is high-quality, unique and irresistibly collectable. With a few pieces from their collection, your home and personal style will have friends asking you when you managed to squeeze in a trip to South America.   

CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
BK: Souvenir is high on my list right now. At the June Flea, I scored the perfect Peacock Chair and matching side table. It looks great with a Kukuli Frazada thrown over it. I'm also loving Lakewood Plant Company for their beautiful plants and mission to improve people's health through greenery in the home and workplace.