Stephanie Sheldon, Founder, The Cleveland Flea and The Indie Foundry Interview Transcription 20140411. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Cleveland, Ohio
I’m Stephanie Sheldon and I’m the Founder of The Cleveland Flea Market as well as Indie Foundry. The Cleveland Flea is a business incubator for small creatives in Cleveland, and Indie Foundry supports them through classes, workshops, granting, and visioning so I get to work with a lot of great, innovative people every single day.
I grew up in Michigan, I went to the University of Michigan for a degree in architecture in actually undergrad and grad school. After grad school I came to Cleveland and I’ve been here for about eight years now. I’m really interested in being in a rust belt city and a place that has opportunity for growth and that needs a lot of love to surround it and lift it up. The people are great here, that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed, it’s a great opportunity to run your own business and connect with people who want to change the city so that’s really why I’m drawn to a city like Cleveland.
I’m really passionate about helping small businesses grow especially creatives. I really want to help people take ideas to fruition and really help them live their best lives. So, I do that through The Flea Market as a business incubator but through Indie Foundry I actually can involve a lot of coaching and support and things that aren’t necessarily involved in business school and a lot of advice, and kind of life coaching that comes along with being a creative and starting your own business. So I really just want to help people to live their best lives and I want to help them take their ideas out into the world in a way that can support them so that they can be happy.
I’m also really passionate about building cities and that probably has to do with my architecture background, but I just see that cities can be shaped by people who understand what we might be lacking, what we could bring to the city, how creativity can change how people live every day, so, in addition to new business generation, I really love to leverage that, and especially my event, The Cleveland Flea, into changing neighborhoods, changing cities and really inspiring a city to grow in ways that it embraces itself, and it embraces creativity.
The reason I like to work with creatives in small businesses, especially people who may be leaving a job they love to start something they really love, is that I was that actual person not that long ago. When I moved to Cleveland in 2007, the economy started to go downward a little bit and I found myself in the position of my firm closing and I had always been really interested in making things and always had side projects that really inspired me. So, I had a choice at that point, to continue looking for a job in architecture that probably I would not be happy in, or, be a little bit brave and take a little bit of a leap, and start my own company and that’s just what I did. I’ve been through all of those highs and lows with starting your own business and leaving the security and comfortability of a paycheck, but also kind of stuck in that scary zone of doing your own thing. That’s why I particularly like working with this kind of business because I’ve been there myself and I know what they’re going through and I really feel certain that I can help them with that.
I think the biggest factor in starting a small business, or in taking your small business to another level, or in just putting your ideas out there, is we can sometimes fall into this trap that we think that everyone else knows something we think we don’t. Or, that people have all the answers and we don’t. So we don’t take the leap because we’re not prepared enough. And so I think what I want people to know out there is that every idea started somewhere and it’s really through trying and failing, and trying again, and failing again, and then finally trying again and succeeding is that that’s how you get there. So, there’s no one answer for everybody and there’s no one thing that people know that you don’t. I’d love people to think that they can make it, that their idea deserves to be seen and to be heard and it will be such a great part of their own story, and the story of whatever community they’re a part of, a city, or a creative community, or even just their office. So, I would love to encourage them to think that they can do it. And again, I would love to encourage people to do things. So, try, don’t be worried about failing, just get yourself out there, just reach for the stars and realize that you’re going to fail and have a little humor about it because it’s going to happen more than once and you’re just going to move forward. I think I want people from a lot of those experiences to feel brave, and to feel that they’ve made it through. Because a lot of times once we even get through those difficult points, we don’t stop and pat ourselves on the back, and we don’t say, “This was a great idea! We did this!” So, I really encourage people to take the leap and have faith that they can do what they’d like to do and just be conscious that you’re working hard and just pat yourself on the back every once in a while.
Well, my future really looks like helping more of my communities. I like to talk about things, that, instead of a horizontal integration, which for me means more flea markets, more locations, spreading myself thin, I really want to do something like vertical integration which is like providing a deeper experience and deeper content, deeper skills, deeper support for my community which is small creatives. My future in the next few years will hopefully bring a new space for us all to gather and have workshops and connect and grow our businesses even more and my future will definitely be helping more people and actually I would love to speak more. I would love to reach out to people in a lot of different ways, so even beyond Cleveland, I would love to connect with more creatives and more people who are taking chances and shaping cities and in shaping the world, so, that’s absolutely what my future has in store for me.
And what I see happening in the future for my community, and really how it relates to the world, is we’re a much more connected world now with interviews like this. Where you can reach people in so many places, so many parts of the world and that’s a very different economy, that’s a very different connectivity than people have been used to in the past. And that’s also particularly why small businesses and the creative businesses work, because you can start a business in a day by launching online. So as long as you know what you want to do, as long as you are able to get that out online, there’s so many people to connect with, so many people who’ll to reach out to you. So for me, the world is moving in this more connected way. The challenge that I see is that through this connection there is also still a bit of disconnection because we still don’t have these personal moments with each other but I also feel if we prioritize that again and use the tools that we have to form greater connection, than I think that that’s going to be a huge turning point in how business is run, how people connect through online, and especially for my community that really need support, we’d certainly gain it online and greater opportunities that provide themselves. So, I see the world going that way.
Being in the visual realm, myself being a graphic designer and understanding the power of visual communication, we really leverage that to build our business. We launched The Flea Market in 2013, and we really launched it as an online campaign. Facebook was very integral to that. We started out with obviously zero followers, you know you just start out, and now in 2014, November, we’re at about 13,000 subscribers or fans. Our online community has really driven our ability to grow and it’s fully because we create graphics and sentiments that inspire people and engage them and don’t just merely provide information, but that they provide a way for people to join in to that rising tide that Cleveland and what other cities like Cleveland are going through right now. So, we invite people to be a part of our community and our online platform is absolutely for that. So, it’s just an extension of our warm and positive attitude that we have onsite and then this lives online. So, for me leveraging digital communication through visuals, is just key. We would not have grown if we did not have that shared platform and that community that has actually sprung from that.
My hope for cities like Cleveland, and just any city, is that cities become more geared toward helping people live better lives. So, as our cities grew, I just watched a great documentary about this this weekend, but as our cities grew we became more and more isolated. Cities became harder and harder to bike or walk through, and a lot of this ends up contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle for people. Yet, they don’t have really a choice in the matter, or it’s really difficult for them, again, because you’re choosing between your livelihood and supporting your family or maybe your own personal happiness and that’s a really tough choice. I really hope our cities can be driven to combine those two aspects. I live a life where I work from home, I’m lucky enough to be able to bike in my city because I don’t need to go too far. That’s really contributed positively to my mental, emotional health, absolutely, I’m just much happier living that type of lifestyle. I can cook at home, I can connect to my neighbors. I think that our cities have a responsibility to provide us with alot of that human scale attributes that really support us having and living healthier lifestyles. So that’s my hope for cities.
With The Cleveland Flea Market and Indie Foundry, it’s really through increased connection, so connectivity in our world is really, really important. It helps small businesses grow, it helps people understand other people, it helps them further their involvement with the community, it helps people, it helps shoppers connect with vendors, it helps vendors connect with vendors, it helps on so many multiple levels and I think that was the big piece before Indie Foundry and The Cleveland Flea emerged, was everyone was very disconnected. So, for me, that’s such a huge key in our business is providing a platform for connection. Whether that’s online, or whether that’s through actual events, whether that’s through actual stories we tell, we’re always trying to draw that connection between the authenticity of the maker and maybe the need, or desire of a shopper, and also connecting people back to their community. So, to me, that’s just a huge part of what we do every single day here.
What we realized here, through The Cleveland Flea Market, is that there’s actually quite a disconnect between the city government, and the state government, and the actual small business. So, I would really love to form a connection between those two and maybe that means to have someone in the office at the City of Cleveland that’s really dedicated to working with these, what I would call micro businesses or small businesses because, they face very unique challenges. When they’re growing and potentially opening up a storefront or driving an economy in a small way, it can be really disheartening to watch them go through this process and not be supported at the city level. And it’s just a struggle for them anyway, so I think the city, the state government could be much more well connected to these micro businesses because they have amazing ideas and they also have the power to change a landscape of a city. They should be helped and understood rather than dinged or penalized for things they may or may not understand. I would love to have a better connection with our city government and our state government.
Stephanie Sheldon and her Team host and convene Cleveland Creatives in Pop-Up Maker Markets for the 2014 December Holiday Season in Cleveland, Ohio.
Quickly transforming vacant or otherwise used spaces, pop-up markets like this attract thousands of people from across Greater Cleveland throughout the year to enjoy hand crafted food and shopping.
This successful model can be replicated in your city to strengthen entrepreneurial networks, catalyze quality, connected places and accelerate emerging creative economies.
Local proprietors create pop up spaces to serve hand poured coffee and tasty, specialty nibbles. Families and friends gaze, explore and shop for treasures and unique finds.
More at www.theclevelandflea.com
Stephanie Sheldon "helps creatives leave jobs they don’t love and create jobs they do love."
Being a woman in business, and in the type of development work I’m in, it can be a little bit tricky. I think also every business and every creative business needs support, so we often at the office talk about establishing your “creative cabinet”. And for me, that is finding people, whether they’re men or women, who will always hold you up. Typically, it’s not going to be your family because even though they love you no matter what, they’re not always going to give you the hard truth that you need or possibly even understand your scenario. So, being a woman in business, I’ve really had to really be conscious of how I’m perceived, how I also hold others to a standard and how I look to find others who I can draw on from their own inspiration or their own experience. It’s difficult sometimes when you’re up against things you don’t understand. In my world I deal with developers, I deal with contractors, I deal with people in city government, I deal with real estate agents. I deal with alot of men that maybe I don’t exactly understand what they’re doing or I may not exactly understand everything about what their jobs are, but I have to remember that no one does. I’ve just been very straight forward, I’ve been very strong, I’ve learned to value my ideas even if I feel a little shaken by others. Like I said, I have my Creative Cabinet and a lot of those people in my Cabinet are made up of really strong women who are doing things in a way that I’m really proud to say that I know them. I’m very happy that they’re around, I look to them for their own experience and I don’t know if I’d be where I am without these women, and men, actually. They’re all supportive of the greater goal and the greater person that I am and I think that is so important when you’re doing anything that can be creative or putting yourself out there and you feel a little vulnerable, you need those people to support you.
The other side of my business, Indie Foundry, is really dedicated to telling stories and branding stories. I have this unique ability to, well, it’s probably because I’m a middle child, but I have a unique ability to really understand people around me. I think because I had to navigate between an older brother and a younger brother and really understand each other’s point of view. I became really good at that. And I naturally fell into branding because part of branding is telling stories and then you realize the power of a story and when you start branding companies that are small businesses, they’re really driven by the authentic person that’s behind that business. So, branding their story with authenticity has become really important to me. We do that through The Flea Market in a lot of different ways. We do photo shoots with our vendors, I get to know them, I talk to them, and all the while I’m learning more and more about them as people which tells me more and more about them as a business. So then when I go to talk about them online, when I go to pitch stories about them to other sources, I know what drives them and many of my clients say, “How did you get into my head? You know exactly what I’m thinking!” I think it’s just because I know how to ask the right questions and listen to them and I look for what authentically drives them. Alot of that I don’t think is learned in business school but it’s really learned in just listening to humans talk and human connection, human attraction, and again, just understanding how to listen to people and find authenticity. So we spend a ton of time branding stories and putting stories out there that have a purpose and have an intent and typically that intent is to further increase the knowledge of a vendor’s point of view, how things are made, the person behind the business, and then it’s also to, really grow that business, help them get their voice out there. That is a very, very important part of what we do here at The Flea Market and Indie Foundry.
Somewhere that we would love to move forward is in increasing the dialogue among a lot of other, maybe disparate professions. What our creatives have to teach others is really important. And what others have to teach us is also really important. So, I love speaking, I love bringing my creatives to where maybe others don’t understand the connection of why they’re there. I think that dialogue and including people of diverse backgrounds is really important to connect a city to provide different perspectives. Alot of times we can stay in our own little community or bubble, which is a wonderful community of artisans, but when we go out into the community and engage in dialogue with others who are very different from us, it’s always so overwhelming and so helpful. It grounds us, it gives us perspective, and we’re always looking for other organizations who really value dialogue and inclusion. You may not be able to predict those conversations, or the dialogue that comes out of it, but just getting different people in the same room always brings about such rich conversation. So, I think we would love to start moving forward and engaging other types of businesses, other parts of the city, other cities even, because there is such a shared human experience that can bring us so much closer together.
Stephanie Sheldon and Cleveland Creative Pop-up Maker Markets advance the micro business economy in Northeast Ohio.
At Indie Foundry we spend a ton of time researching and presenting that information to our community. So one thing that really drives me is just learning more about my niche market, which are small creatives. Learning what they’re going through, learning what drives them, really understanding them and that takes a good amount of research. Alot of that research from me is done through interviews, it’s done through just talking to people, learning where they’re excelling, where they’re not excelling, learning what they need. And also learning how they like to learn and how information gets to them in a way that is applicable to them and that they can bring in. So, we spend a ton of time, like I said, making questionnaires for people, that I think ask them questions in an interesting way, in a creative way, because that’s how they respond. And then we analyze that information and turn it into blog posts, we turn that into infographics, we turn that into e-courses, we turn that into workshops. We turn that into data that we can approach other professions with, so accountants, or lawyers. We can say to them, “Hey, we’ve got this data here. These people are telling us they don’t know enough about accounting and the reason why is because they’re intimidated.” So, when we do research, it’s always two-fold. It’s to understand where people are going, it’s to understand where they’re getting tripped up, it’s to understand where they want to do, and then it’s a lot of times to understand why they’re getting tripped up. We take that data and approach other people, create blog posts, create infographics, create content that can speak to that. We share that on our blog, on our website, through social media and it’s one of the most fun parts of my job. It takes a lot of time to digest things down and represent them in a very beautiful way, but when I get time to do it, it’s one of the favorite parts of being in Indie Foundry.
We share our data with neighborhoods, with the City of Cleveland, with developers. Besides understanding our niche market, and our community if you will, we also understand and analyze the economic impact that we have as an organization, as The Cleveland Flea Market. We create anonymous surveys that our vendors fill out after each flea market. It provides us with a really great idea of how much people are making, how much people are spending, and we can really share that with others who I think would benefit from that. When you’re running your own small business, or your own event, you can tend to forget that you need to explain who you are in a lot of different ways to people. Sometimes people underestimate or maybe just don’t understand exactly the impact that you’re having and, so, boiling things down into numbers as well as words and images which is really important. We don’t do a ton of analysis on economic impact, other than understanding how much people are making, and how much people are spending, and how much time they’re there and also how is it extended into the neighborhood surrounding. All of that data has been super helpful for us and it really helps some people take us seriously who I think would not otherwise. So, it’s important to understand what data you need to connect to other people. When I was talking before about being more connected with the state and the city, that is the type of data they would absolutely understand, and that would peak their interest. So it’s really important to be able to analyze your data in different ways, ways that are important to the people you need to be connected to.
When we talk about networks, they’re really important to us. We’ve learned though, that establishing networks can be much about just basic human connection. I’m not a big fan of networking events and I do have my own version of networking events that really kind of take a lot of the stuffiness, a lot of the structure, the inherent structure out of networking events, to actually restructure them around things that people enjoy, which is good food, good drinks, good conversation, good ambiance. It’s just a really core philosophy for me and it’s seems very hard for “professional businesses” to achieve because there’s a measure of an intangible, creative, feeling, or aesthetic there that I think my architectural background really helps me achieve. Also growing up, I was always the one who wanted to make everyone happy and create a surrounding that would encourage engagement. I just wanted people to smile in my house, I wanted my parents to smile, I wanted my brothers to smile, and so I really became very in tune to what people are looking for in order to be comfortable, to be open and vulnerable. And that’s alot of times what shapes my networking events. That’s very different then from what most people would do because it may come across as being unprofessional. I like to encourage people that that’s not unprofessional that’s just being human because businesses are made up of people. I tell my clients this all the time. Businesses are just people interacting with other people. So, if you take out the human condition and people are uncomfortable, that connection doesn’t really have a chance to take hold. So, we really focus on dialing things back to having an enjoyable time at any sort of networking event that we do. The Flea Market is another extension of that. How can we make sure people are comfortable, happy and feel at their best? It’s taken me a long time to understand how to integrate with the larger business community, but I think that the more events we have and the more diverse people that we bring into them, to engage with our core group of people, that really helps us understand the gap between maybe the professional, small business or large scale business thought leaders and our micro business thought leaders.
One of the most important things to me in establishing networks and in finding people that can help you grow your business or just help you live a better life, is really understanding those other people. Alot of our events are really about creating vulnerability and saying, “that’s okay” and connecting on a very authentic level. For me that’s the most important type of networking that we’ve done because we put people in tough situations, well, not really tough situations, but ones that expose their authentic questions and we take down a lot of barriers and a lot of walls because I find that within my community networks spread by understanding people very well because then when you see someone else, you think, “Oh wow, I just heard so and so talking about this the other day. You could totally help them.” And that’s how networks are spread among the creatives we work with. It’s really just about letting people know just exactly what you need and that can be a little scary sometimes. And then that person, carrying that with them, and caring enough about you, and caring enough about that network to remember that and to think of the greater community as something that they’re a part of. So that when they’re walking around and they meet someone they immediately think of, “Oh, wow, this person said something to me the other day and you should meet them.” That’s really how networks are connected among our creatives. It’s just about knowing people very well and understanding that you want to be a part of growing that larger community.
So part of my philosophy as a small, creative business owner is to create a set of rituals for myself, or a rhythm in my work life and my personal life that helps to balance both of them. A big part of that is keeping myself grounded. So, the first thing I do every the morning, and I did it this morning, is I wake up and I journal for a little while, it’s called Morning Pages, it’s, another creative, I believe, came up with it and it’s something I’ve picked up along the way. And then I read a book called, The Book of Awakening, a passage from it everyday, by Mark Nepo, he’s a philosopher and he’s found his way into my work life, and my personal life, and he’s sort of that hinge that connects both of them. I read a passage every single day and it sort of gives me a little bit of perspective again. We can all wake up with a long to-do list on our mind thinking about everything we’ve got to get done, thinking about how far behind we are on things, being stressed about things that have come up but that’s just the human condition, that’s not really going to go away. What I’ve learned through my life that’s really served my business is that we each have our own ability to control our reaction to things and also to control how we start each day. I start each day in almost a meditative way, in my own way, where I really contemplate a thought, a thought that really brings me closer to the oneness of everybody and the connectivity of everybody. Then that thought is a mantra that can stick with me all day. So this can sound, I like to say, “a little woo-woo” but for me it’s just about understanding that we’re all human and that difficult situations may arise during the day and understanding at the base level that people are just people and everyone is going through something, and that you also have to be compassionate to yourself and kind to yourself. That really influences how I speak to people, it influences how I answer emails, it influences how I connect with people and it just brings me greater calm and greater joy and really finds a way to bring me more energy to my work.
Well, for me, as a creative, the most important thing was to connect to my group and now I see the power of that because the power of connection through city, through just the group that we work with, really had such a profound effect on neighborhoods, on the city, and even on the media, what people are talking about. I see how captivating these people are, creatives, because they think differently. I hear over and over again, “How did you get to where you are?” and not even just me, but just about our makers, a lot of our creatives. It really drives home that they think differently. So, I think for me the next big enterprise is to fully understand that and use that collective energy and that collective group mentality, that creative mentality, to really affect change within the city because now we have a voice and now people are interested. Developers are interested. Engineers are interested. Anthropologists are interested. People who want to understand economics and other people are taking notice because we act as a group now and we’re seen as a bigger voice than just one person. It’s kind of a big nut to crack, but for me really understanding our place as creatives and how we can shape a city, is really the next thing for me. I think someone had recently said something about there needing to be a Creative Director position for a city and I think somebody was running for that in Toronto and it’s just something that, “Why did that not occur to me?” So, why can’t we rethink how government is run? Why can’t we rethink how our schools are run? Why can’t we think creatively about a lot of aspects of our lives? How does this small creative mentality, how do we scale that to something larger and get people to take notice of it? That is absolutely the big opportunity that I see going forward.
My ideas are really based on the passion that I have for what I’m working on. I really like to move quickly to execute them and this is one of the reasons why I work in a pop-up architectural world because I don’t need to spend three years building out infrastructure to affect change. I think that one of the main attributes I bring is just energy. And so moving quickly really harnesses that energy and inspires people and gets them excited to be a part of things. For me, I love sinking my teeth into large scale projects, but I also feel really strongly that moving quickly from idea to execution is really paramount if you want to gain the public’s attention.
This energy manifests itself in every little moment that I spend online. I like to tell my clients when we’re doing exercises, “Your life is just made up of small moments”. So for me, I realize the power of a small moment and just for one example, I create a lot of visual imagery for my campaigns and I find that if I invest in that, in those small moments, every single day, and put a piece of content out there that’s really engaging and that really only took me about ten minutes because I was so excited about the idea and I got it right out there, that it has a lot of energy and can really bring back the excitement that I need the public to be involved in and the level of excitement I need them to have about my projects. I really capitalize on the tiny moments, rather than spending a lot of time cultivating a three or a five year plan because to me I lose steam, and even though I may be working on things long term, I really like to work in the short term, those short, small bursts of excitement, of energy, of momentum that I think people really respond to online these days. It’s just the type of content that they’re reading, that they’re looking at, that they’re bringing into their lives. I don’t want it to bore people with alot of long drawn out explanations, I would rather get small, very succinct, very bold statements out there that can really inspire people the way that I need them to be inspired.
Well, if I was working with the city, within their own offices, the first thing I would do is look inward. I would look at the happiness and excitement of each individual person within the city government because I think that the huge disconnect is, there’s something people don’t understand at least, is the bureaucracy involved in getting things done through the city can really kill an idea and it can really kill the spirit of the person working within the city. I think people need to love what they do, I say this all the time, that’s why I help creatives leave jobs they don’t love and create things that they do love because I think that if you do what you love, you will do it better. If you don’t do what you love and also if you don’t feel respected, or cared for or valued within your job, you’re not going to do a great job at that. So a huge part of why I think the city or bureaucratic institutions or even just large scale companies, if they’re not invested in their company culture, then I really think that company will lose so much energy and so much potential for changing things and for acting in a way that is so helpful to the city around it. I think that is particularly true of cities, of governments.
Below: View the interview transcription on Scribd.
We love collaboration here at The Cleveland Flea and at Indie Foundry and we realize that no one can do everything on their own. We really hold our partners to a high standard of collaboration. We don’t just sell our services or act as advertisement for people. We find people and organizations who have aligned goals and we expect them to support us, and be kind to us and treat us like humans just as much as we would do with them. That can be very tough in the business world because you find a lot of people who just say, “Well, it’s just business, it’s not personal.” I understand that to a certain degree but really I think by making things more personal and more human and involving more collaboration you just have much more purpose in what you do and your ideas have so much more ability to change the lives of others. And so for collaboration among leaders, we really love to say it’s more than just titles, and more than just looking good on paper to have organizations collaborate, you really have to do something together. We love working with other people, we seek collaboration at such a small scale within our makers but also in such a large scale and really it’s just about creative thought and bringing diverse people together for a shared purpose, so collaboration for us is key. We involve ourselves with alot of people who see the benefit of having us around because we bring a lot of people to a certain area but without ever asking us what they can do for us and it just seems very one-sided. So we really preach collaborative models and at the very outset, aligning your goals and aligning your missions. Sometimes we can shake a few people by asking them those questions but it’s absolutely necessary in order to have a very positive, great work environment and work relationship through collaboration is to understand why you’re doing it and how you’re helping somebody and how they’re helping you.
When we work with our clients, we help them find their, what we call, their “dream collaborators”. The questions that we have them answer are, “Who, ideally would you align yourself with?” “Who has similar goals to you?” “How can they benefit you and how can you benefit them?” We realize that it’s very often that we find people that see how someone can help them, but they rarely think, “Well, then what do I provide?” Alot of times we think of money as being the only way that businesses interact with each other or what they can offer someone else, but when we deal with The Cleveland Flea and we deal with The Indie Foundry a lot of times we’re not dealing with money. And what I mean by that is we go into an neighborhood or into a vacant storefront to a part of town that needs exposure, we don’t pay them for their space because we offer them something different. We offer them exposure, we offer them our consultative services, we offer them energy. These are all things that are a little bit intangible and are very hard, I think, to create.
As creatives, and as a creative entrepreneur myself, I understand this very well, this is something I’m very good at, which is why I write contracts with my sites and say things like, “We will not pay you, this is a consultative, collaborative partner agreement.” I make it known up front that that is what we bring to the table and if people don’t get that, they’re not a good partner for us. We’ve had a lot of real estate partners not get that and because we don’t bring money to the table, which we actually could because we bring something even more important to the table, we’ve stepped away from a lot of partnerships because they wouldn’t work. So, aligning your goals at the outset, answering those questions, both parties answering those questions, “What can I do for you?” “What can you do for me?” and taking money off the table for those answers, that’s how true collaboration works really well because you’ve got to have an altruistic aim that supports each other and that has to come before even money is discussed.
Questions To Help You Find Your Dream Collaborator ~
“Who, ideally would you align yourself with?”
“Who has similar goals to you?”
“How can they benefit you and how can you benefit them?”
The things that we look for in our collaborating partners are, number one, that they get us. What that really means to me is that they understand who we are. They understand our aims, they’re thoughtful and respectful towards those aims. Number two, is that we have purpose together. So, if I don’t have purpose in our collaboration, or my partner doesn’t have purpose in our collaboration, it’s not going to work. The third thing is that it grows each other. That can mean financially, that can mean we get paid to be a part of this, that we increase our sales somehow, that we increase some kind of part of our business that grows our business and that translates definitely into money at some level. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that they pay us in the sense that they give us money, or that we give them money, but that we’re both equally growing our businesses. It’s really similar to what I tell my clients when I coach them to understand what their dream client will be, is that number one, they get them, the client understands them and number two that they have purpose and number three that they get paid adequately and so that translates into collaboration because it’s a very similar relationship. If those three things are not present, in my mind, that collaboration won’t work.
Our main purpose as an organization is to help people live better lives. We see that manifest in helping people to create jobs they love. Through those jobs they actually give back to the community so much more. We also are creative thinkers so we’re thinking about people’s lives and helping them create jobs that they love, we don’t want to then not think about the other factors that go into their happiness; so that goes towards transportation choices, food choices, health choices, we really want to think holistically about that individual and how we can help their lives on all different fronts. We encourage people to think differently, and creatively about all of those choices that they make every day: spending money, where they live, where they commute, how they commute, what they’re eating and a lot of times it boils down to a lot of our clients have purpose in what they do which means they really care about what they’re doing and it brings them so kind of joy to be doing it, some inherent joy they take from their job. We find that aligning a lot of those people it just improves the welfare of everyone’s life. Alot of our clients are in so many diverse areas. We have clients that are in the health field, we have yogi’s, we’ve got chefs, we’ve got people who are attempting to connect local farmers, to people in the inner city. All of those jobs and the connection and thread between them, these people, is purpose. We’ve found connecting them to each other, it just naturally helps the welfare of everybody which really helps, in a global sense, it helps sustainability, it helps welfare, it helps people being healthier. It’s these creative thinkers that have purpose and they’re small parts of the economy or small parts of the world, and connecting them, they influence other people. They show people another way to live and it’s because they care so much about what they do. So, for us, that’s the legacy that we leave, is that we invest in jobs and people who have purpose and typically, purpose is not all boiled down to money. Purpose is about living a better life, caring about what you’re doing, improving life in all different spectrums by supporting people who have purpose I think we have such a great legacy to leave people with.
Contact Information for Stephanie Sheldon:
The Indie Foundry
2860 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Visit: The Indie Foundry
Visit: The Cleveland Flea
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