MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Two Nevada County creatives shared a vision; now it’s a business
Cosmic Shark Clothing
162 South Auburn St., Grass Valley
Facebook: Cosmic Shark Clothing
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday
At some point, it seemed like Stephanie Arduini and Annie Kendall’s paths were bound to meet. Both were young adventurers with artistic sensibilities, and both were eventually drawn to Nevada County for its music scene and its progressive, creative vibe.
After meeting through mutual friends they discovered they had something else in common: they both loved the idea of designing unique T-shirts. Arduini was drawn to the fashion aspect of the venture while Kendall saw T-shirts as the perfect, affordable palette for her art.
“Each of us had independently been playing with the idea of T-shirts,” said Arduini. “But then we found each other and saw that we both actually had the energy to make it happen. We found motivation in each other, and we pushed each other. It would have been hard for either of us to do it on our own.”
Together, they founded Cosmic Shark Clothing, which specialized in hand screen printed clothing featuring Kendall’s original artwork. Kendall had already established a reputation as an artist in Nevada County, and was known for her work designing flyers for local businesses, bands and artistic venues. But the silk screening process was new.
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“Basically we learned screen printing from YouTube videos and the DVD that came with our press,” said Arduini, with a laugh. “There was lots of trial-and-error, but eventually we got it. That was three years ago.”
The T-shirts and other clothing, such as sweatshirts and onesies, were a hit. The vintage designs — inspired by ’60s and ’70s psychedelic rock poster art — appeared to hit the sweet spot, as they appealed to everyone from Tweens to Boomers. With each bringing different strengths to the business, the business partners have agreed to split everything 50-50.
“The T-shirts are a way for Annie to get her artwork out there for people to really enjoy, and make some money from it,” added Arduini. “It’s tough for artists to make money by selling paintings, but T-shirts are attainable for the average person. Our goal is to keep prices affordable. We’re a part of the community, too. We want everyone to feel like they can buy something they love.”
Originally working out of their Grass Valley screen shop and selling items online, Kendall and Arduini eventually decided to expand their venture and open a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Grass Valley. Sandwiched in between a dance wear shop and a spiritual counselor in a small mini-mall on South Auburn Street, Cosmic Shark Clothing has now expanded to include eight additional vendors offering curated vintage clothing, as well as locally-sourced and crafted goods, such as jewelry, Egyptian Grace body products and a popular comic book series created by Jared Witkofsky.
“This vintage collective is comprised of items found by dear friends — we’re not a consignment store,” said Kendall. “We hold a space for them to sell carefully selected vintage items through us. Each person brings a different style of retro wear. There’s a real diversity here.”
Both Arduini and Kendall see their store as more than a shopping experience — they also want it to be a community gathering spot. While someday they hope to move to a larger space, they are still able to host occasional events, such as small weekend concerts in the parking lot.
“As an artist, I love being able to put my art out there and make it accessible to people — that’s truly rewarding,” said Kendall. “We are grateful to feel like a welcomed part of the community. It’s an honor to know that people really appreciate what we’re doing.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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