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.
One of the greatest parts of running your own business is the ability to do things your own way. You are your own boss, you run the time clock, and best of all... you decide how to do the things you do. In the case of Elissa Hastings and Caleb Skelton of Wild Foot Studio, that means making your own tools and developing new techniques. The new business owners find happiness in creating without a guidebook and learning from each other. Get more of a glimpse into what studio time with Elissa and Caleb is like in our Maker Series below.
Cleveland Flea: What was your path to beginning your business?
Elissa Hastings and Caleb Skelton: We have both wanted to be our own bosses our entire lives. It was just a matter of time, working together and practice that lead us to open Wild Foot. Our dream has always been to create art, work hard and be in love with life. So that is what we sought out to do together.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
EH & CS: We get to create together, which is probably our number one favorite thing about doing all of this. We also love being a part of the community, communicating with people and learning from others.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
EH & CS: We are die-hard Clevelanders, born and raised here. We are proud of that and proud to be small business owners in such a great city. We bring a unique vibe to Cleveland; it's a mix of true hand-work, our individual styles and a bohemian feel added in there. That's something that I think Cleveland is really enjoying.
CF: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
EH & CS: The community, plain and simple. Everyone here is so open and willing to talk, collaborate and help out!
CF: What's the best part of running your own business?
EH & CS: We love being able to run wild with our creativity- no limits!
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
EH & CS: We are a brand new business, just officially opening our online store and doing shows earlier this year (2016.) I would say the toughest part so far is getting the word out, in the most efficient way, to our dream customers.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
EH & CS: Our goal for Wild Foot this year is to keep creating, to keep enjoying life together and to continue to get the word out about what we do and why we love it.
CF: Did you see yourselves growing up to be creative vendor?
EH & CS: Yes, we have both always wanted to be our own business owners. Specifically in the art realm. We have been makers since childhood.
I (Elissa) even used to give paintings and drawings away in my neighborhood when I was a little girl, in exchange for candy- ha. I always say that is where it started.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
EH & CS: I think our "wow" moment was when did our first big show. The feedback we received was amazing. We really connected with our customers, which we absolutely love doing.
CF: Who inspires you?
EH & CS: We feel the most inspiration from each other. Mostly because we are always trying to impress one another with a new piece or newly discovered technique- ha!
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
EH & CS: Yes! It has helped us to see what our customers were looking for and to narrow in on some "best sellers." It is a great place to connect with people and show them what you have to offer.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
EH & CS: Simply, "do not compare yourself to others." With social media being the way it is today, it is easy to do so. Making sure we don't compare ourselves to others keeps us going and keeps us positive. Everyone has their own lovely little differences and they should be celebrated! So we are trying to do just that.
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
EH & CS: We are very "do it yourself." So we have hand-made a lot of our tools and modified quiet a few of them as well. It's one of my favorite things about us.
CF: How would you hope to hear your business described by your dream customers?
EH & CS: Wild Foot is a lovely, truly hand-detailed brand with one of a kind pieces.
CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
EH & CS: I love Keats Soaps! Caleb and I are in love with the products we have purchased from her. She is a very lovely person and maker.