A UC graduate recently opened up a “Bazaar Concept Shop in OTR.” Read on to learn more about it.
When walking in the doors of Continuum Boutique in OTR, you’ll be greeted with flowy fabrics, simplistic accessories and hand-crafted home décor hanging from the walls as natural light pours in the store-front windows and the faint aroma of naturally scented candles fills the air.
According to owner Ericka Leighton-Spradlin, Continuum is not just a boutique or a retail store, it is a “eclectic bazaar art and concept shop” that sells art, jewelry, fashion and accessories from independent artists and designers. Leighton-Spradlin says she carefully chooses a wide array and assortment of merchandise that speaks to the bohemian, creative mind by reaching out to independent artists and designers from across the country herself.
“I like to support artists and designers out in the world making something unique– I strive to support creativity,” Leighton-Spradlin explains. “This is what I enjoy being able to share with the customer, introducing them to a product with a person and/or story behind it. To me, it makes the whole shopping experience more personal, and that’s extremely important to me.”
Leighton-Spradlin says she’s very selective when merchandising for her store. “I like to choose my merchandise with my customer’s personal shopping experiences in mind. I want them to have something that is unique, timeless and artistic,” she adds.
According to Leighton-Spradlin, fashion should be an extension of who you are as an individual. That’s why it is so important to her to sell brands and pieces that you can’t just find elsewhere.
“I want my customers to know that I take pride in the Continuum brand, giving them something special, with choosing apparel that uses ethically sourced materials and jewelry that was hand crafted by the actual designer,” she says. “My goal is to stay away from mass produced merchandise, as apparel from independent designers can embody more uniqueness and have the upmost quality.”
While shopping around the store, you will find several rare brands. For example, she says, the line Osei Duro. This line is based in L.A. and their textiles are dyed and produced in Ghana. All of their fabrics are hand dyed and woven in both large and small scale quantities utilizing Ghana’s traditional textile techniques that are sustainably produced while emphasizing the culture of Africa.
Continuum also carries jewelry by designer Sophie Monet, a jewelry architect that makes all jewelry by hand. She uses recycled material from the scraps of wood from her father’s artistry to create the jewelry and is based out of Venice Beach, California. According to Leighton-Spradlin, this jewelry line takes a modern approach on accessory trends using exotic wood and producing it here in the U.S. using sustainable materials whenever possible.
“I love being a woman. I embrace my womanhood and I want to express that freedom and liberation with the world throughout my store,” Leighton-Spradlin says, referring to some unique items she sells, like a planter the shape of women’s bare torso and a rug with the design of a woman’s breasts.
Leighton-Spradlin considers her concept shop as selling more than just clothes, but wearable art. It has been a goal of hers to contribute to Cincinnati’s growing city giving an emphasis on art as she is an art student herself graduating from UC’s DAAP Fine Arts Program in 2013.
When picking a space for her store, which was her biggest challenge prior to opening, she had her heart set on wanting to be located in OTR on Vine St. “This area of Cincinnati is flourishing right now with young entrepreneurs,” she says. “With starting your own business, there will be many challenges, but they are nothing you can’t get through.”
While the store is still young, just opening two months ago, Leighton-Spradlin has big plans to grow her store even more since she just hired her first sales associate employee earlier this month.
Future plans include bringing in new merchandise for the fall and soon offering ceramic classes taught by Leighton-Spradlin herself. To learn more about Continuum, visit their Tumblr page or like them on Facebook.