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 and creative business owners to do what they love and love what they do.
Q + A with John + Adam of Starglyphs / The Bus Boutique
The Bus Boutique is a mobile vintage shop in an old converted school bus. Each event is uniquely curated with selectively sourced goods ranging from primitive to modern. The inventory is eclectic and typically artisan crafted or designed. The interior of the bus has been refinished with primarily all found and salvaged woods and materials. The fun part is that it also doubles as a camper for when they're on the road. The Bus Boutique is owned and run by John Owens & Adam Zagger (Adam's Dad Glenn is also a big asset and gets honorable mention).
Cleveland Flea: What are your roles in the business?
Bus Boutique: We manage every aspect of our business but each have different roles. Projects are tackled individually and together. John does a lot of research and the actual buying and dealing with clients. Adam handles most of the online sales and has a strong knack for interior design and arrangements. The Bus Boutique is also just one branch of what we do.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
BB: We love giving an item from the past a future. We appreciate design and craftsmanship and our business has allowed us the freedom to really culture our aesthetics.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
BB: Our importance lies within the fact that we are not mainstream and instead an alternative to mass production. We offer great design at an affordable price and our selection is unique. We also consider ourselves individuals that want to see Cleveland grow and prosper in a conscious way, so we try to be as fair and honest as possible. When you shop with us, you are supporting real people who are invested in this town.
CF: What's the best / most difficult part of running your own business?
BB: Operating a business is filled daily challenges and decision making. It seems as if there is always something to be done and we don't allow ourselves a lot of personal time, it's like work, work, work.. But we are still growing and enjoy what we do, so at the end of the day we feel content and accomplished.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
BB: Our goals haven't changed too much.. We are always striving to open opportunities and refine our practices. A brick and mortar may be in the picture.
CF: How do you manage during events where weather is an issue, like our May Flea?
BB: MAY FLEA - Everything in life is controlled by the weather. We kept sane by keeping it simple..
CF: Did you see yourself growing up to be a vintage dealer / treasure hunter?
BB: Who would've ever thought, right?
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
BB: When our personal business ventures allowed us to leave our previous jobs and work full time for ourselves. That was definitely our big moment, we had made the commitment to make it work.
CF: Who inspires you?
BB: We've always been inspired by artists, musicians and creatives. Of course friends and family who believed in us and even a shout out to the "haters" because we'd be nowhere without you. Inspiration can come at any moment if we are open to it.
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
BB: The Cleveland Flea has been a great teacher!
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
BB: Our biggest struggle has honestly been in just trying to manage everything we do. It's definitely a juggling act, but as time passes we become more organized, refined and efficient until we are operating smoothly. That's usually when we take the next step and all new struggles arise. it's cyclical..
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
BB: Be yourself, but be selfless..
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
BB: Another aspect of our business is dealing and brokering higher end goods and collectibles under the name "Starglyphs". We have been selling online for 5 years and also consider ourselves interior designers. We have supplied props for major film, theatre and photographers and have sold pieces to museums, interior design firms, celebrities and private collections worldwide. We also work closely with several dealers and shops locally. We refinish most of our own furniture and always have pieces available at Canopy Collective in Ohio City.
CF: How would you hope Starglyphs / Bus Boutique be described by your Dream Customers?
BB: We'd like to hear they enjoyed our selection and the way it was displayed, and that they were treated kind and fairly.
CF: What's the most amazing thing you've ever found?
BB: A book of maps from hundreds of years ago, a hand crafted piece of danish furniture, art from iconic masters or a sword from the French Revolution? It's a tough call, but sometimes it's even something that has no real "monetary value" per say, but still invokes curiosity, interest or wonder.
CF: Anything you've found that you just couldn't sell?
BB: We do have quite a personal collection
CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
BB: We've always been terrible at picking favorites.. Let's just say we are really impressed and appreciate the whole production. We do always try and take time out to shop other booths.
ABOUT JOHN + ADAM
John has always been a real handyman and takes pride in his work. He's an audio aficionado, loves music and has even built his own speakers. He owns an impressive vintage knife collection and also loves the outdoors. Scandinavian design is definitely his weakness. He has an expansive knowledge of designers and just an overall great eye for design.
Adam has previously worked as an artist, musician and performer. He loves to cook and garden and even competed in the vegan iron chef and espresso olympics. He believes that buying quality vintage is also a "green" thing and that the Earth's resources should be used more respectfully.
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