Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Olivera Bratich of Wholly Craft

Wholly Craft was doing the local thing long before it was a “thing.” The craft store selling handmade goods opened in 2005 on the ground floor of the artisan boom. Etsy was still in beta and stores that offered handcrafters a place to sell their goods really didn’t exist.

“It was perfect timing for what we did,” Store Owner Olivera Bratich says.

She was fresh out of grad school, had the idea and went for it, only taking six months between inception and opening. And although a new concept, she was surprised at the number of artists that expressed interest.

The early days did require a lot of education.

“We had to do a lot of talking about why handmade matters about why shopping locally matters, and now that is easy, but 10 years ago, it was a conversation,” Bratich says.

Over a decade, Wholly Craft has grown from a 300 square-foot shop with 40 artists hocking handmade goods, to a 2,000 square-foot space boasting 300 plus artisans, of which almost a third are local crafters.

By giving artists a more stationary place to sell that wasn’t just the occasional craft fair, Wholly Craft has acted as an incubator of sorts.

“One of the nicest things about the business has been seeing their business grow over the years,” Bratich says of her artists.

Artisans like t-shirt screen printer Alison Rose and jewelry designer Anne Holman have even spun out into their own shops. And some of the sellers have even been a part of the store since day one.

For originally not planning to stay in Columbus, Bratich and Wholly Craft have become an integral part of the Clintonville community. Constantly being surprised by the city and all the niches it had to offer kept her here, and the Columbus’ love of supporting its own, especially in Clintonville, kept her going.

“Wholly Craft would not have been successful anywhere but Clintonville,” she says.

In her podcast, Bratich discusses her surprising lack of craft skills, a little side project she’s started called Handmade Ohio, helping artists have even greater access to retailers, and with a decade of experience, gives some good advice to budding business owners (don’t be afraid to ask for help!). Listen to the full cast below.

The Columbus Chamber and CD102.5 have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, host and local comedian Dan Swartwout will speak with local business owners and entrepreneurs and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

Want to hear more? Visit columbus.org/resources/podcasts for new podcasts every other week.

To subscribe to cbuzz on iTunes, click here.

To subscribe to cbuzz on Sound Cloud, click here.