When I started this blog at the beginning of 2019, I wasn’t really sure what direction it would end up taking. I knew I wanted to write about all the things in Cleveland that I love, and to share those things with both locals and visitors. Cleveland, after all, is a much cooler city than people usually give it credit for.
What I didn’t really expect, though, was that the site would grow so quickly, or that less than 1.5 years after launching it I would also be making my very first foray into merchandise!
I’ve been running blogs and working in digital media for more than 10 years now, but I’ve never actually made and sold my own physical products before – until now, that is!
I had the idea for this shop at the end of last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic and extra time spent at home really pushed me to take it from just an idea to a fully-realized project.
I’m super excited to announce that the Cleveland Traveler Shop is now live!
Cleveland gifts from Cleveland Traveler
The journey from idea to finished shop took a few months. For anyone curious, I’ve laid it all out here. (But if you’d prefer to skip to see fun product photos, keep scrolling!)
The first thing I did was reach out to a talented illustrator friend of mine about my idea. (Because, even though I consider myself pretty creative, an artist I am not!) We agreed to test out one design to start with, and I sent her a very crude sketch of the design I had in mind for my first batch of products.
The final illustration that resulted came out even better than I had imagined it in my head. It’s a watercolor rendition of the Cleveland skyline – but the skyline as I imagined it, filled with some of the city’s most iconic buildings and attractions.
There’s the West Side Market, one of the Guardians of Traffic, Key Tower, the Playhouse Square Chandelier, the Fountain of Eternal Life, Terminal Tower, one of the Cuyahoga River bridges, and of course the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To me, this really says “Cleveland,” and I hope you like it as much as I do!
So again, while the overall design mostly came from my brain, it was the talented Candace Rose Rardon who brought the final image to life.
Once I had the image, it was time to test it out on some products. I opted to use a drop-shipping company called Printful to fulfill all my orders – mostly so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding space for inventory and dealing with shipping from my home.
I also had to get the actual shop set up on my site, which I hired another friend who is well-versed in WooCommerce to do. Luckily, Printful and WooCommerce integrate quite nicely, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as it could have been.
But clearly you can see that this isn’t just as simple as just saying you’re going to sell things! Also thrown in were various product design iterations, and a whole lot of sample products getting shipped to my house (I’m pretty sure my husband will be happy if we never receive another mug in the mail).
Cleveland Traveler products
The shop is ready to accept orders now, and here’s a little preview of what you’ll find there:
My initial idea for this shop was to design fun posters that would look great on the wall of any Cleveland-lover’s home or office. I’ve of course branched out into other products, too, but you can definitely order prints of this image as a poster, either with or without the “CLEVELAND” text.
The print quality of these posters really is top-notch – it looks like a watercolor painting.
I’m selling posters in various sizes, including 8×10, 12×16, 12×18, 16×20, and 18×24. The 12×16 and 12×18 sizes are the ones I’d recommend, and they look great framed on a wall!
And speaking of frames, you can order a framed version of the poster with text in 8×10, 12×16, or 18×24, in either a white or black frame if you don’t feel like going out and buying a new frame.
(Though if you do just want to purchase frames for yourself, I personally really love this one from Michael’s; the gray-wash barn wood color looks especially great with the illustration!)
The second product I decided I would sell are mugs; everyone loves mugs, right? (Please don’t tell me it’s just me with a cupboard full of novelty mugs!)
Printful creates some really nice mugs that are both microwave safe and dishwasher-friendly, and the Cleveland skyline image looks great printed on the side or front.
I have two different kinds of mugs in the shop: white mugs that come in either 11 ounce or 15 ounce sizes, and mugs with colored handles and insides (4 different colors).
Both styles of mug can be purchased in 3 different designs: double-sided, where the design is mirrored on both sides of the mug; centered, where the image is slightly larger and centered on the front of the mug; and without text, which allows the skyline image to wrap almost all the way around the mug.
3. Tote bags
Tote bags weren’t in my initial design ideas when I first started thinking about launching this shop, but I decided to order a test bag anyway just to see how they would turn out – and these things are GORGEOUS.
The tote bag itself is sturdy, with thick double handles that are stitched on securely. The bag is also fairly deep (15 inches), making it great for any situation, whether you’re carrying your laptop to work, or going on a picnic.
The skyline image also looks crisp and just about perfect on these bags, and is printed on both sides.
The tote bags only come in white because of the nature of the illustration, but you can customize the handle color by choosing either red, yellow, or black.
Lastly, for those of you like me who like to cover their laptop with fun stickers, I’ve also got a 3×3 sticker version of this illustration.
I’m really excited to finally have these items out there, and I hope you love them as much as I do!
If the shop does well, I may add additional designs and products in the future – so your feedback is always welcome!
Which item from the Cleveland Traveler shop would you be most excited to own?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.