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.
Cleveland is gifted with some of the most gorgeous geological sites that a big city can offer. Glacier-cut grooves are now home to the Cleveland Metroparks, where locals can pass the hours enjoying the rock formations and the colorful visuals of sedimentary layers. Dappled with trees, the area is referred to as the "Emerald Necklace". We can't say for sure, but we like to think that Nikki Lundberg–creator of Odyssey and Oddities' stone-heavy jewelry collection–is inspired by the natural cues. With an accessory line known for its geological diversity, Odyssey and Oddities assembles jewelry featuring stones tumbled in-house, statement necklaces composed of vintage beads and brass, and raw materials that Elizabeth Taylor would die for. For a peek into Nikki's studio practices, as well as hints at the future of the business, read on!
Cleveland Flea: What was your path to beginning your business?
Nikki Lundberg: My business was born out of a lifelong passion for jewelry and clothing design. I set out to make jewelry with a unique aesthetic that would also appeal to a large audience at an affordable price.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
NL: I love having a small jewelry business because it takes me out of my comfort zone and it's so rewarding to see my growth and progression in design.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
NL: Cleveland needs variety in its local businesses, just like any other great city. I feel I provide Cleveland with affordable statement pieces that will set them apart from the crowd. I am not a minimalist (I've tried) and I think I've found a good niche of people here who love vibrant and eclectic jewelry.
CF: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
NL: Cleveland is experiencing such an amazing creative and economic renaissance right now, there are new opportunities and businesses are popping up all over the place. There seems to be this vibrant energy radiating throughout the city that's so great to witness and also to be a part of!
CF: What's the best part of running your own business?
NL: The best part of running my own business is seeing the happiness in customers faces when they find a piece that speaks to them and makes them feel beautiful. It's one of the most rewarding feelings I've ever had.
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
NL: Right now I'm balancing a demanding full time job with growing a new business. I always find myself wishing that there were more hours in the day.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
NL: An obtainable goal is to get my own website up, more distant goal is to learn how to metal smith. My ultimate goal for the next year is to make Odyssey & Oddities my full time job.
CF: Did you see yourselves growing up to be creative vendor?
NL: I've always known I was going to be a creative vendor. I've made jewelry since childhood and have a degree in Fashion Design from Kent State University. I've always been the most happy when creating.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
NL: I knew I was headed in the right direction with my business when I vended at my first outdoor Cleveland Flea in April and sold much more than I had anticipated. That gave me the confidence and affirmation I needed to take this seriously.
CF: Who inspires you?
NL: My mom is my biggest inspiration, she is the most kind and selfless person I've ever known. I wouldn't be where I am today without her unconditional love and support. I definitely inherited my artistic genes from her- she is also an awesome jewelry and graphic designer.
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
NL: The Cleveland Flea has hands down been the most essential aspect of helping my business grow. It's been amazing to watch Odyssey & Oddities flourish over the past year of participating in the Holiday Flea and the outdoor summer Fleas. I am forever grateful to the Flea and this community.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
NL: My favorite piece of advice relating to my business would be to be patient, that growing a business takes time. As a driven and anxious person, this is something I struggle with, but I always try to remind myself that the outcome will be so much better in the end if I just stay the course.
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
NL: I think people would be surprised to learn that a lot of my larger geode necklaces, stone earrings and all of my stone rings were cut and tumbled by my grandpa. He's been tumbling stones for years and has been a huge part of Odyssey & Oddities' growth.
CF: How would you hope to hear your business described by your dream customers?
NL: I hope that my dream customer would say Odyssey & Oddities has made one-of-a-kind eclectic jewelry obtainable to them.
CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
NL: Fount has to be my favorite booth at the Flea. Their bags are so beautifully made and it's been so inspiring watching their business evolve and grow over the years.