Name something local that helped shape your creativity as a child: My parents are both artists and have always supported local galleries, concerts, shops and restaurants. So they took us to events that we could enjoy as a family. East 185th Street used to have many places and cafes that hosted art previews, concerts, and other events that I frequented growing up.
I went to high school in Villa Angela-Saint Joseph, so my friends and I would stop at the coffee shop, save money, or go to the Music Emporium on the way home from school. There were so many places where young people could gather and be inspired or listen to music. The East 185th Street Festival was also a huge summer event that celebrated the deep ethnic roots of our neighborhood, as well as an excuse to party for five days in a row.
Share a bit about your professional journey to date: I originally went to Kent State to study Fashion Design and ended up getting my BFA in Costume Design from the University of Cincinnati. My first professional job was working in the wardrobe Cleveland Gambling House. This job eventually led me to the costume shop of Great Lakes Theater in Playhouse Square. I worked in the craft department, which involved making a lot of dyeing, millinery, distressing costumes, and other accessories.
I have always loved designing clothes, as well as being interested in textile design, so I decided to pursue this idea on my own. I started collaborating with other visual artists, creating my own textiles, mostly through silk dyeing processes. They made the fabric and I designed the clothes. Currently, I work part-time at an industrial canvas company sewing everything from heavy truck covers to carnival tents. I also do custom clothing alterations and design.
What prompted you to create Selvage Garments and what does this activity consist of? I really loved collaborating with other artists – and I still do – but I wanted to try my hand [at] dye the silks myself. I have always been inspired by the colors of the lake and the ever changing horizons in my own backyard. I love working with clients and designing beautiful clothes that celebrate all body types. I love the idea of accessible luxury, a truly special piece of clothing that makes you feel ethereal everyday.
My company is quite young at the moment, and I finally have a very good website and logo. I always try to create new pieces and new samples. I hope I can reach a wider audience and bring some of these clothes to other places.
Where do you like to source fabrics and textiles locally? It’s really hard to find silk fabric locally, but bolt and coil in Little Italy, I had a beautiful cream crepe de chine that I used for several projects. They also have many other beautiful textiles. Otherwise, I order my plain silks from Dharma in California.
What do you think are Cleveland’s best-kept cultural and creative secrets? It’s not really a secret, but the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is one of my favorite places to visit when I need a pick-me-up. It’s free, never crowded and really peaceful. I like that it’s old and a bit wild; it makes it more romantic.
I also like to walk to all the little lakeside beach clubs in my neighborhood; there are many historic houses and spectacular cliffs. Many people from other parts of Cleveland have visited these areas with me and didn’t even know they existed. Waterloo also has a myriad of creative spaces in amazing historic buildings. And, of course, the Beachland Ballroom is a great place to see live music.
What are some of your other creative passions and how do you practice them locally? I love working in the garden and my favorite place to buy plants is Cavotta Garden Center. They always have a great selection, and you can visit goats and drink a beer – what more could you ask for?
Are there any quirky things in Cleveland people need to check out? Cleveland has an incredible amount of vintage stores and antique malls. Sometimes it’s fun to rummage around and see what trash has turned into treasure. If you like meat, Cleveland’s old-fashioned butcher shops are always a treat, and sometimes they’ll even give you a sample of what they’re smoking that day. Each region of Europe has its own way of preparing meats, and it’s always fun to explore different shops and how they do things.
Favorite local artists or galleries? Ceramic Brick +Design Studio on Waterloo is an amazing place. Val Grossman, the owner, is an amazing ceramist and a fabulous person. His studio is in a renovated 1920s car garage. The building has so much history and now houses kilns, wheels and a gallery. The creative energy there is wonderful.
Share a fun fact about yourself that might surprise others: I play guitar and sing in a duo garage rock band called Madame.
If you were a Cleveland landmark, which one would you be and why? Maybe the West Side Market? My family is from Europe, so food is always important, especially during holidays. I have so many fond memories of going specialty food and sweets shopping with my Oma. The market was so wild with smells, people and colors. The building itself is like a place of worship for food. Eating leads to conversations and comfort, two things that are important to me.
Your favorite Cleveland mural/artwork? I’ve always loved Morell’s “Life Shares the Same Park Bench” mural in downtown Cleveland. When I was a kid, going downtown was always an exciting event. I always associate this mural with a day around tall buildings and lots of interesting people. I always felt like I was somewhere magical and far away, even though I was only 20 minutes from home.
A typical day in your life might include… Take my son to school, then have coffee and keep a journal. If I’m lucky, I can spend time sewing or dyeing in my home studio. An afternoon walk to the lake is always pleasant if the weather permits. Later, put on a record, pour wine, and cook dinner for the family. So maybe a movie and a bed.