City Goods brings unique small businesses and diversity, to Hingetown
Over the last two decades, a building boom in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood has attracted a steady stream of young professionals eager to enjoy the trappings of urban living. Following in their wake was an eclectic mix of artisans, entrepreneurs, microbreweries and restaurants, each helping to drive continued development in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods.
Despite this growth, the northeastern section of the neighborhood struggled to keep pace with the revitalization happening just a few blocks away. Awkwardly bisected by a freeway, the area between Detroit and Church Avenues remained a mostly desolate and uninviting corner of an otherwise thriving neighborhood.
But times have changed.
Visiting the area today, passersby might find it difficult to imagine that such a characterization ever applied to what is now one of Cleveland’s fastest-growing and most diverse enclaves. Hingetown, so named because it acts as a “connector” between the Ohio City Market District, Warehouse District and Gordon Square, has become a hotbed of new development. A vibrant assortment of restaurants, small businesses and apartments now blend seamlessly into the urban fabric.
One of the latest additions to Hingetown, and perhaps the most eye-catching, also serves as the physical embodiment of the initial mission to reconnect a neighborhood and transform a “toxic corner.”
In preparing for the launch of City Goods, a collective of small businesses that opened in September of 2022, owners Sam Friedman and Liz Painter were very intentional in their recruiting, making sure to capture a broad swath of creative culture and artistry, and with opportunity, accessibility and inclusion top of mind.
Of the 24 shops, 15 are women-owned and five are Black-owned, each with its own unique products and equally compelling story.
In honor of Women’s History Month, GCP is profiling women business owners, leaders and innovators. This week, we are catching up with owners of two the city’s newest and most creative new businesses, at City Goods: Alicia Cleveland of Promises to Care and Marissa Wilson of Capsoul Co.
Promises to Care
The stress of Alicia Cleveland’s final year of college manifested as recurring acne breakouts and rashes, which only compounded her anxiety. Prescription creams and medications only seemed to offer a temporary fix, and trips to the doctor distracted from her studies, so Cleveland began to search for a permanent solution.
“I took it upon myself to begin learning about the skin, and that’s when I got into herbs,” says Cleveland. Towards the end of her college career, she began building her own apothecary and quickly discovered a new world of holistic solutions, and a new passion.
“I learned the process of alchemy, and herbs started to become the most powerful thing to me,” she says with a laugh. “With the same herb I could make a soup, a tea, a face mask, a toner — and I was participating in this beautiful process that has been practiced on this earth for thousands of years.”
Cleveland’s passion in her discoveries led to the founding of Promises to Care, where she sells therapeutic skincare products for men and women, while fulfilling a mission built into her business.
“The name is one of those affirming oaths, like ‘I promise to care,’” says Cleveland, one of the youngest business owners at City Goods.
“It’s a promise to take care of myself, of my community, of the earth.”
On her experience at City Goods, now entering its seventh month, Cleveland offers praise of a supportive ecosystem comprised of likeminded entrepreneurs and passionate community members.
“The community that’s being built is just so powerful,” says Cleveland. “We all have our different things going on, but everyone understands the hustle and the work that needs to be done.”
“And it’s not just sales,” she continues. “There’s intention to it, to our products, and we want the messages behind them to be heard.”
“I finally feel like people are listening.”
While living in Los Angeles, Marissa Wilson’s work at a media production company led to travels across the globe, shooting video series’ everywhere from Paris to Haiti, and London to South Africa. Creating video content requires gear, and gear requires storage, and Wilson quickly learned during her travels that standard luggage wouldn’t cut it.
“I really wanted just one bag that I could take with me through these different scenarios,” says Wilson. “To go from literally the office to the airport to the hotel, and out into the field to start shooting.”
Wilson searched far and wide for such a bag, but found that those made for function typically sacrifice appearance, and those with aesthetic appeal are often functionally useless.
“There were two choices you had: you get a nice luxury, professional bag that’s super expensive and great looking, but has absolutely no utility to it and you’re almost afraid to carry it around, or you get one of these more tactical bags — and they don’t look great.”
“So I started to think about what it would look like to bring together the best of both of those worlds,” she continues.
Wilson, still living in Los Angeles, began sketching out ideas and shopping them around the Fashion District until she found a small mom-and-pop willing to take a chance on her. Two years later, the Capsoul Pack was officially on the market.
“It’s really a play on the idea of capsule wardrobe,” say Wilson. As more Capsoul products are introduced, each will remain compatible and interchangeable, creating a modular ecosystem of stylish storage and accessories.
“It’s been so great to see the community come out and support everyone,” Wilson says of her time at City Goods.
“It’s just been fantastic, but we’re just getting started.”
Women’s History Month Guide: Innovators, resources and more (greatercle.com)
Cleveland | WBCs of Ohio (wbcohio.org)
Small Business Administration (sba.gov)
Women Business Enterprise Program (WBE) | Development (ohio.gov)
Ohio Business Resource Connection — Ohio Secretary of State (ohiosos.gov)
WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise National Council — WBENC.org : WBENC
Empowering Women in Business (key.com)
PNC’s Project 257®: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality | PNC
NWBC — Advancing Women Entrepreneurs. Growing America’s Economy
Want to learn more about the contributions of Women to Cleveland History, women in business and Women’s History Month? Check out the following stories:
Women’s History Month (womenshistorymonth.gov)
International Women’s Day 2023 (internationalwomensday.com)
Women Business Ownership in America On the Rise (census.gov)
Women’s History Month: Cleveland suffragettes, protests and parades since 1869 (vintage photos) — cleveland.com
Facts About Small Businesses: Women-Owned Businesses — SBA’s Office of Advocacy
In honor of Women’s History Month, Greater Cleveland Partnership is spotlighting Women-owned businesses, leaders, changemakers and events throughout March on our blog, website and social channels. We’d love your input. Email suggestions to [email protected]
Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Inclusive Opportunity.