Sponsor Spotlight: Mapping a Landscape of Creative Neighbors
Night Market Cleveland partners with local start-up Frekol
All good ideas should start with a slice of cake: locally made, affordably priced, artisan cake. Cake covered with fondant and decorated by hand with super heroes molded onto each tier for a child’s birthday party. This is how Trent Schulz, founder of Frekol, had an epiphany about the virtual handmade marketplace while attending a celebration for his nephew in Cleveland’s suburbs. Online buyers now can have their cake and eat it too when it comes to discovering amazing products being made close to home.
“Even though the woman who made the cake lives only ten minutes away, without my brother, I would have never known about her,” says Schulz. It has become increasingly difficult for people to meet their neighbors, and even more so to purchase from them when many transactions now revolve around buying online.
Websites like Etsy focus on global audiences who are looking for quality craftsmanship from artists and designers, but they do little to facilitate new relationships or commerce within our own communities. Craigslist builds upon this idea of buying and selling within a specified geographic range, but the website is used for more than just selling specialty handmade goods.
Frekol expounds upon the positives of well-known websites with an aesthetically pleasing and easy to use interface. Schulz wanted vendors to be able to focus on their product and not on building a website. It’s free for makers to sign up and customers to use because like Craigslist, it is the buyer’s responsibility to reach out to shoppers who have shown interest in an item and meet up with them to make the sale personally.
The website is all about proximity. A map of Cleveland greets users to the homepage with pins highlighting where crafters are located, often several to a street. The map generates a visual reminder of the artistic communities that exist surrounding the city and unveiling secret points of interest: the people quietly making what they’re passionate about in-house, often at garage and basement workshops. With an estimated 1.2 million people living in Cuyahoga County, the local market is by no means small.
Open-air festivals, like Night Market Cleveland, have become increasingly popular to mindful consumers across the country. NMC works with more than 100 vendors for each event, highlighting not only artisanal wares but homemade food as well. “When you go to events, you begin to understand how amazing this market is,” says Schulz, whose background is in finance.
“There is more soap on the website than at Target or Walmart. There are a vast variety of products that you won’t find at a traditional store. More crazy to me is what is being made in our neighborhoods. Ginger beer, Kombucha, alcohol-infused jams, and furniture of unbelievable craftsmanship.”
Frekol is a platform for strictly handmade and up-cycled items. They further continue the mission of Night Market Cleveland to an online platform where vendors’ wares can be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Visit www.frekol.com to start shopping neighborly.