AKRON, Ohio – Sewing and crafting have been lifelong passions for Akron resident Da’Shika Street. Now, the Central Hower High School alumna is sharing that passion with others through Street Craftery – a do-it-yourself studio for people of all ages in downtown Akron.

Street’s journey from crafter to entrepreneur was a long road. She became intrigued about sewing after seeing her neighbor’s grandma sewing in her basement when she was 8.

“Seeing her make something out of a sheet of fabric fascinated me,” Street, 40, said.

Her family continued to foster her interest in sewing, giving her outgrown clothing to make new things out of. Being in a military family, Street spent part of her pre-teen years living in Germany. She credits her “amazing” home economics teacher, Mrs. Pechlinburg, as being instrumental “bursting my interest (in sewing) wide open.”

When the youngest of her three children was born in December, 2019, Street had some downtime and picked up sewing again. A few months later, she was considering taking on clients again, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed her mind.

Instead, she began prototyping face masks.

“I wanted to be of service during this crisis we were facing,” she said.

She started sewing masks, and soon had to hire contractors to keep up with demand from individuals and organizations, such as Summit County Public Health.

“We produced thousands upon thousands of masks locally and nationally,” she said.

As sales started to slow, it gave Street the chance to take inventory of what brought her the most joy in her life: sewing and helping others learn to monetize their own skills.

“Several of the women I had contracted with to make masks were displaced from the workforce due to the pandemic,” she said. “Helping them brought me the most joy and I wanted to do that on a larger scale.”

She started working with local coffee shops to hold classes on crafting, sewing and how to monetize these skills. The classes filled up quickly. She started to look for a space of her own, and Street Craftery was born.

While looking for a space, Street learned about Downtown Akron Partnership’s Start Downtown program. Funded through a Burton D. Morgan Foundation grant, the program matches businesses with downtown Akron property owners. It also provides program participants with rent assistance for six months. The program aims to boost business growth downtown with an emphasis on helping minority- and women-owned businesses. So far, the program has helped 13 businesses get started downtown, according to a program news release.

Located at 356 S. Main St., Street Craftery offers craft classes for people of all ages. Participants are provided with the supplies and guidance they need to complete projects they can take home. Mediums include sewing, candle making, woodworking, cement artistry, splatter painting and seasonal workshops, such as wreath making, among others. The studio also offers an adjacent room known as Splatter Alley, where participants wear protective plastic ponchos and shoe coverings so they can fully cut loose and create splatter-painted canvases.

Splatter Alley

A class participant dons a plastic poncho to take part in a Splatter Alley splatter painting session. (Courtesy of Da’Shika Street)

Street also offers a weekly enrichment class for toddlers ages 2-4 on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to noon. The class focuses on socialization and learning through crafts that participants can take home, according to Street.

“We give people the opportunity to get their hands dirty and try a craft so they can decide if they like it before investing in supplies, which can be expensive,” Street said.

Street aims to offer classes and projects that align with the latest home décor trends, she said.

In addition to classes, Street Craftery has walk-in hours and is available to book for groups, parties, workshops and special events. Local artists can also book space in the studio to hold their own classes, according to Street.

Street Craftery is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Other days and times are available to book for private events. To learn about upcoming do-it-yourself events or workshops, visit www.streetcraftery.com and follow @streetcraftery on social media.

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By Indana