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.
Local cosmetics craftswoman Amy Cornelius, creator of Glam & Grace, knows a few things about color. You’d agree if you’ve ever made a purchase from her booth. All season long Amy’s handmade cosmetics give The Cleveland Flea a glow, and social media followers noticed, launching her solopreneur side hustle into a big deal business. Now her paraben free and cruelty free handcrafted cosmetics in on-trend colors are the highlight of events. Read on for insight into how Amy grew small batch cosmetics company in our Maker Series interview below.
Cleveland Flea: How would you describe your business in one sentence?
Amy Cornelius: Glam & Grace is a line of handcrafted mega pigmented cosmetics made from simple ingredients
CF:What was your path to beginning your business?
AC: It’s been a journey. Ever since I was little I’ve been creating. I ended up going to school for graphic design and have been in the field for a little over a decade now. Since becoming a designer and working for someone full time, I’ve felt the need to dive even more into life. I’ve been known to have bold style and I wanted to start taking bolder actions and take chances to figure out a path that better suited me. I’ve needed more freedom to create something not only I love and can put my heart and soul into but most importantly, something that others would love and could benefit from. Your typical job just doesn’t provide that sort of purpose and satisfaction.
I just started digging into all things creative I possibly could. I wanted to learn and grow as much as possible. i taught myself cake decorating and then I designed jewelry/accessories for awhile but wanted a more distinct and unique path. Something that would reach & benefit more people.
Getting into cosmetics was nothing I ever planned on. The past few years I started being more conscious about ingredients in products I buy. Personally, I began to have sensitivities to big national band products and needed to figure out solutions. So I took matters into my own hands. My combination of curiosity of how thing are made and my love of color made this all possible. I started learning how to mix pigments and formulating different products. My goal has been to strip products down to the necessities and keep them as simple as possible. It was a lot of reading, a lot of trial and error and experimenting. My personal need of quality natural cosmetics turned into creating my own products and a brand that would benefit others as well.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
AC: Again, I love creating quality simple products that others can benefit from.Not only are the products made from good ingredients, but it’s a place where women can just chill and be themselves. I’m not about pushing a certain image or beauty standard but more about using makeup as expression.
I also love a challenge. The design aspect is a challenge and also the business side is a challenge. There are no limits to what you can do. In business you’re constantly faced with a problems you need solutions for. I love problem solving.
CF: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
AC: The small business scene in Cleveland is booming. Even better, small businesses really support each other and it’s become a true community. Not all cities have this going on. It’s truly unique and I hope everyone understands that. Don’t take it for granted. When I moved to Cleveland a few years ago I had zero expectations but instead the creative community blew my mind. I wasn’t even trying to belong but somehow I found myself in the midst of incredible people who wanted to know more about what I was doing, to share their own experiences and collaborate
CF: What's the best part of running your own business?
AC: I love being creative and the creative process. It’s about problem solving. Designing products that people love and filling a need for fresh simple cosmetics is a pretty cool thing.
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
AC: Learning, having enough time to manage every aspect of the business including trying to grow.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
AC: I’ll continue to develop the product line by making a combination of fun & unique items but also basic staple products. A big thing will be to develop a consistent sales and marketing strategy and then execute it. I’d like to add to the team and find a solid location for the production studio.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
AC: Last year I had a “viral” moment online with the trending Rainbow Highlighters. There were incredible sales and success with that product. I had a lot of people nationwide reach out to me to tell me that they loved what I was doing and the product.
CF: Who inspires you?
AC: Creative entrepreneurs around the world. People who find their passion by exploring their creativity and push the limits by creating new ideas and trends.
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
AC: Its really given me a platform to get in front of local customers and it’s helped me make connections with others around the city. It also enables me to hear feed back first hand. I get to see what people in the area are most drawn to. It’s been an incredible experience.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
AC: Love the journey. There will be ups and downs, don’t give up.
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
AC: People are always surprised that I actually formulate and make the cosmetics.
CF: How would you hope to hear your business described by your dream customers?
AC: I would love for people to have the product as their go-to everyday makeup staples.
CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
AC: Theres no way I can pick just one. Everyone there is so great and incredibly talented. I love being surrounded by Cleveland’s biggest creative badasses. All these folks work so hard and put blood sweat and tears into what they do… and it shows. Shout out to my lady entrepreneur friends, so thankful to know so many talented and supportive ladies.