Angelina rodriguez-Pata knew she was artistic. The mother of four had started making jewelry in her basement, but with no formal fashion or business background, she wasn't sure how to focus her talents. Her husband had encouraged her to open a boutique to sell her rings, necklaces and bracelets, but she was reluctant. It wasn't until one unbearably chilly and stir-crazy March evening in 2014 that Rodriguez-Pata decided it was time.
"I had become a stay-at-home mom for five years. I knew I needed to go back to work," she says. "I think that bone-chilling cold just really got to me."
The next day, Rodriguez-Pata went online to look for commercial spaces. A week later she was headed to Retail Week in New York City to scout brands for her shop. "I was a nervous wreck," she says. "I got really good at pretending like I knew what I was doing. By the third day, I was a pro."
Six months later, she opened the doors to Blackbird Fly Boutique in Ohio City, where spherical multicolored light fixtures dance around the building's original art deco ceilings. Hip and funky displays carry a mix of modern, edgy and vintage items such as a 1920s-inspired cuff bracelet ($69) of her own creation and an eggshell-colored jacket made of vegan leather by Australian designer Wish ($171).
Rodriguez-Pata handpicks each item in her 1,150-square-foot store. The rotating lineup of brands includes locals such as candle company 1820 House and illustrator Mirdinara as well as national names Seychelles and Lanston.
To keep her inventory up-to-date, she puts her naturally stylish instincts to work when looking for inspiration on new styles and brands.
"I'm always stopping people," she laughs. "I'm one of those women that I'm like, 'You look fantastic. Who are you wearing?' "
When You Go: Blackbird Fly Boutique, 1983 W. 28th St., Cleveland, 216-344-0554, blackbirdflyboutique.com
Nearby Find: Treat yourself to decadent European desserts, such as a napoleon ($3.50), with a stop at Farkas Pastry Shoppe. 2700 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-281-6200, farkaspastries.com