When Ericka Leighton-Spradlin graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), she and many of her peers faced a similar problem – losing access to the endless resources and facilities DAAP has to offer, and struggling to raise the funding necessary to support their artistic endeavors. Although there were traditional galleries and mainstream retail opportunities available to sell their work, there was really nothing in between.
In the years following graduation, she came across many other talented artists and designers battling the same issue of having to seek out and rent studio space or other facilities to aid their passions. And, when she couldn’t find a simple solution to the problem, she took matters into her own hands. What has resulted is her new shop, Continuum, which officially opens tomorrow at Noon.
“Many artists, in addition to their personal projects have creative side projects that don’t quite fit in the mainstream retail market, and that’s where Continuum comes in – to support artists, designers, and makers in any of their artistic endeavors, and to provide a curated retail experience to showcase their goods,” Leighton-Spradlin said.
By exposing the artists to a market that might not be reached in a traditional gallery setting, she hopes to assist them in generating the funds needed to support their studio practices.
The UC alum doesn’t classify her new store – located at 1407 Vine Street – as a boutique, but rather a “bazaar,” since it features everything from women’s clothing and shoes to “eclectic oddities and wares,” as the owner/artist puts it (think ceramic pots, towels and sheets, and home décor). But, more important to Leighton-Spradlin than what she sells is who she sells it for, and who buys it.
“My goal is to support independent makers, artists and designers, and to allow them to share their vision with the customer,” she said. “I want to establish a relationship between the artists and the customer, and give shoppers an immersive experience.”
As part of that experience, she eventually plans to feature the artists being showcased in her store on her website, complete with bios, backgrounds and even an e-commerce component.
For now, her sole focus is giving individual artists and smaller collectives – including current DAAP students and soon-to-be graduates – an opportunity to showcase their work in a curated retail environment, while providing the possibility of a more personal connection to their customers.
Part of that connection, Leighton-Spradlin believes, comes from community, craftsmanship and passion, all of which the Cincinnati native has seen thriving in OTR over the years. So, she contacted 3CDC in search of a space for her new shop, and learned that the organization had an ideal location to lease her – an 833-square-foot space in the Parvis Building on Vine Street.
“Since my first year of college (2007), I just loved the OTR area and architecture,” Leighton-Spradlin said. “Seeing the renaissance of the neighborhood, I was not only attracted to the aesthetics but also the community, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Starting tomorrow, she officially will be.