by Brandi McElhatten
The stars aligned recently and I was able to meet some really great people. You know the kind, people you just feel immediately comfortable with and can talk to at length without feeling like a weirdo. My friend Haley had introduced me to her friend Erika to talk about an idea for a project I had. (More about that project here.) This meeting then introduced me to Erika, alone with her boyfriend, Anthony’s new project – the store/creative space that is Canopy. I think Erika and Anthony, and a whole slew of helpers, have really made something really great. To better introduce Erika and Canopy to you, I shot her over some formal questions.
Please give a brief intro of who you are, whatever you want people to know:
That is a surprisingly hard task! I’m a 30 year old woman, I grew up in Cleveland and left as soon as I had the opportunity. I’m a wanderer and struggle between wanting to settle down and wanting to run off in to the wilderness. The people in my life are what makes it worthwhile to me, I feel I’m at my best when I’m doing something for someone else. I love jokes and laughter as much as I embrace sadness and tears.
What inspired you to open Canopy Collective?
The original goal was to create something for Anthony and I to have that could eventually support us. We both have a strong interest in the arts, Anthony and his best friend have been organizing an increasingly popular one-night art show for the past three years. I went to music school and grew up with my grandfather who was a commercial artist, and my father who was a poet, and lover of art. After lots of back and forth about what our options and inspirations were, we came up with the idea that is now Canopy, a place where we can support local (and non-local) artists by selling their creations, as well as provide a welcoming environment for anyone and everyone to be creative within.
You and Anthony seemed to take a very DIY approach when doing the build out of the store. Do you have prior experience with this? (laying out floor, countertops, etc)
I had been working for Rising Star Coffee for the past three years and played a large role in the opening of the roastery and two cafes, so I had at least a little bit of experience with the process of starting something from scratch. Anthony and I had a lot of help with the build-out portion of Canopy, but we were very willing and eager to learn skills and do as much of it as we could on our own. If anybody out there wants a plywood floor installed in their home, I think we may be able to pull it off!
What’s the idea/mission behind the store?
The goal for the shop was to create a platform for artists to sell their work who otherwise wouldn’t be able to support a storefront on their own. The studios were created to house artists who needed a space to expand their skill and collaborate with other artists who in some cases do drastically different things. The gallery and event space was made to get our community involved, to promote artistic exploration and remind everyone that the arts are an incredibly important part of our culture and our lives.
What kind of items can people find?
We have so many kinds of things here! I think there really is something that can appeal to everyone, both from a taste standpoint as well as price point. We have mid-century antiques, oil paintings, prints, photographs, housewares, designer furniture, terrariums, hand made toys, books, journals, glassware, jewelry, bags, etc.etc.etc.
Do you collect vintage yourself?
I don’t collect vintage items, but Anthony and I collect artwork. The walls of our house have quickly filled with a very wide variety of art, and we definitely haven’t hung up everything we own.
Tell me about the mail art portion of the store?
This is something that is dear to my heart! We house the PenPal Social Club, which meets every other Saturday from noon-2:00. It’s basically time for people to gather and write letters, to keep such an old and beautiful tradition alive. Everyone brings a little something to share (magazines, envelopes, stickers, stationary, etc.), and we have snacks and beverages. Aside from the time for the PenPal Club, we also provide supplies for people to write letters any time the store is open. We have a typewriter available, and stamps and envelopes, and we deliver everything to the post office at the end of each day. I would love to find other groups of people who are doing something similar in other parts of the world that we can write back and forth to.
Anything else we should know?
Canopy is all yours! This place is special and holds an amazing energy that comes from all of the wonderful people who helped create it, and it’s here for anyone and everyone to use.
For more info on Canopy, click here.