Handmade Ohio Connecting Artisans with Retailers

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Ohio pride. Ohio artisans. Ohio products. A new wholesale catalog from Wholly Craft Owner Olivera Bratich is connecting all three. Handmade Ohio aims to get more Ohio artisans in more shops across the state, showing their pride through their products.

“One consist thing I’ve seen is a lot of artists struggle with the getting new stores portion of the business,” Bratich says.

Artisans want to be able to create and make their products. It’s what they are good at. Finding and developing relationships with stores often falls to the end of the to-do list.

Handmade Ohio will be an advocate of sorts for these vendors, and with Bratich successfully running a store devoted to these types of goods for 10 years, “I’m familiar with the items that sell well, what looks good on a retail shelf, and what customers are looking for,” she says.

The first Handmade Ohio catalog featured six vendors and was sent to over 200 independent gift shops across the state about a month ago.

Bratich included vendors she has worked with closely at Wholly Craft like screen-printer Alison Rose, Stinkybomb Soaps, apron, coffee sleeve and other handmade recycled fabric housewares maker AmyD, Tulane Pottery and jeweler Red Giraffe Designs. A few select Wholly Craft products were included as well.

While all Columbus-based for now, “We’re certainly open to carrying any Ohio artist,” Bratich notes. “It’s definitely something that we are planning to grow.”

Handmade Ohio isn’t currently seeking any specific product line to add to the list, but Bratich likes the variety that the first round represents. And while each vendor brings something different to the catalog, they do have one thing in common. They prominently feature Ohio designs.

“It’s more than a visual, more than a trend—it’s about the people who are making it,”she says. “When we buy these products, we’re buying into Ohio. Ohio residents buying gifts or tourists buying souvenirs are taking home a piece of our state and a true representation of the creative talent within it. Yes, the shop local message is important, but it’s also so important to shop from Ohio artists. I don’t like seeing an Ohio-shaped item with ‘Made in China’ stamped on it. There’s too much talent in our state to watch that happen.”

Handmade Ohio is targeting places like independent gift shops, museum stores and souvenir/destination spots.

“There are markets across the state in which the demand for Ohio products is increasing,” Bratich says. “That’s why you have things like Ohio t-shirts in Meijer. This is an opportunity to have artisan Ohio goods take the place of those items. There’s no reason every place along Lake Erie shouldn’t be selling Alison Rose’s I’d Rather Be in Ohio t-shirt.”

Handmade Ohio will release catalogs twice a year, one during summer and the other in fall leading up the holiday shopping season. Bratich hopes to double the number of vendors by the fall edition.

Since its release, she says they’ve seen a lot of traction from places they didn’t even expect.

“It’s been nice to see the interest in Ohio-made goods,” Bratich says.

Once a store is ready to purchase, an order form is included in the catalog or can be emailed. For vendors that are interested in being in the catalog, Bratich says to email her with a brief description of their business.

For more information, visit shophandmadeohio.com.