Interview with Gina, Owner of Gina’s Gallery and Boutique

I recently interviewed the owner of Gina’s Gallery and Boutique to learn a little more about her, her inspirations, her boutique and her take on art in Cleveland in general. The Interview is as follows:

1. Tell me a little more about yourself.

I am 27, a native Clevelander, and a 2002 graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a BA in Art History and English. I minored in Art and took several textiles classes. Shortly after graduating I started working at Fiori Gallery and quickly became the manager. In the fall of 2003 I started taking fashion design classes at Kent to fulfill my dream of becoming a designer and my need to create. Shortly thereafter, all the while working at Fiori, I began making hostess aprons and worked with Verb Ballets on costumes. During the spring of 2006, Stuart Zolten, the owner of Fiori Gallery announced his plans to retire. I looked at this as an opportunity to carry on a gallery in the space that sparked the art movement in Little Italy, and also so have a space to show and expand upon my own design endeavors. I also wanted to bring more young independent designers and artists to Cleveland as well as highlight many talented Clevelanders.

2. What might a visitor expect when they first walk through the door of the boutique?
A visitor can expect to be warmly greeted, most likely by me, naturally! Hopefully they will take a moment upon entering to look around and absorb the pops of color from the array of art displayed on the walls and fixtures.

3. Who are some of your favorite designers locally? nationally?

Locally, my favorite clothing designers are Pinky’s Daily Planner and Rocket Love Fashions– both are extremely different and very creative. Nationally, I’m in love with Suzabelle, Lois Eastlund, Gina Michele, and Sans Soucie (Canadian). I also carry Feisty Studio handbags (totally awesome and totally local), Elle-A-Belle jewelry (also local and beautiful). I have a slew of indie designers coming in every day and I am in awe of all of them (and I mean truly independent. Designers like me who are producing a handful of limited edition or one of a kind pieces– nothing mass produced. )

4. You yourself are a designer and are having a debut of a new collection aren’t you? Can you tell me a little bit more about this new collection and what inspires your creation in general?

My debut collection is now available in the store and you can see it at I am inspired by color, funky prints, and anything with a sense of humor. My hostess aprons are either one of a kind or a variation of a certain design. They are all fun and flirty, and even a little sexy.

5. What are some of your other favorite locations in Little Italy?

My other favorite locations include Anthony’s (best gelato in the city), La Dolce Vita (fettucine fellini is divine), Algebra Tea House (pleasant company and work place of Abe Olvido, an artist I feature in the gallery and soon to be international phenom), Anne Van H. boutique (an inspiration), and Xen Gift Gallery (Skjenia makes all the jewelry she shows.)

6. Do you believe that the arts are vital and important to Cleveland, and if so, why?

Yes, I believe that the arts are vital and important to Cleveland. Cleveland has a rich cultural history, with the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art at its hub. Both CIA and CIM produce amazing artists and Kent State is not far away.

7. What types of things would you like to see in the Cleveland art scene?

I would like to see more support of local artists and galleries by Clevelanders. While many people shop independent, there is a whole segment of the population who does not. Whether they think it is too expensive, too out-of-the-way, or find small galleries and boutiques intimidating, I encourage every person to just browse. Most places have an assortment of merchandise at varying price points– literally something for everyone. And, isn’t it more fun and special to buy something that only you will have rather than a million people will have?

8. Lastly, what are some of your other interests?

My other interests… I haven’t had time to even think about other things since opening in August. I’m very lucky to be able to work in an environment where everyday I am surrounded by beautiful things.

Thanks Gina for your interview! If anyone wants to know more I encourage you to visit Gina’s Gallery and Boutique. It is located in Little Italy @ 2072 Murray Hill