The Funky Hippy brings vintage finds to Cedar Lee

Opened in June, The Funky Hippy on Lee Road is an expansion of owner Dawn Ward’s original Funky Hippy vintage store in Akron, Ohio.

Ward primarily stocks fashions from the 1960s–80s. “Much of the inventory is gently used vintage, but some is ‘new old stock’—never worn vintage items,” explained Ward. Among the “new old” items are sunglasses from the late 70s to early 80s, and a collection of dresses, tops and pants imported from India, that Ward describes as “slinky and beautiful, with diverse prints.”

The Funky Hippy offers some vintage-inspired new clothing, sourced by Ward’s daughter-in-law Lauren, who is her partner in the Cleveland Heights store, and owner of NOTO boutique in downtown Akron. With a costume designer, Ward is developing a line she calls “Goddess Frocks”— dresses “reinvented” by shortening, embellishing and otherwise reworking long vintage gowns.

Born and raised in the Akron area, Ward has a degree in graphic design, and taught at The University of Akron before working in design and advertising. It is the strong graphics that first attracted Ward to the vintage trade. She recalled, “I was enchanted by my mom’s old prints. The graphics of the 60s and 70s were stellar, and the fabrics were great.”

Ward says she is not a collector herself, and it is her husband, Richard, who finds most of The Funky Hippy’s merchandise. “That’s his thing. He was raised hunting for treasure—he’s always out looking.”

“For me,” Ward revealed, “the beauty of the business is that I can enjoy something for a bit, and then pass it on. I can indulge myself, and then let go. It’s the best of both worlds.”

“For many people,” said Ward, “it matters that something is well made. There are definitely some advantages to buying old items in terms of quality of workmanship and materials. Even handmade items, which we sometimes think of as delicate, can be remarkably durable, with meticulous attention to detail. Vintage clothing holds up.”

Ward came to know Cleveland Heights after a friend moved here. “We saw the space become available, and I inquired about the storefront in February or March. I love Cleveland Heights’s cultural diversity; it’s not a homogeneous neighborhood.”

For the holidays, Ward has expanded her hours to accommodate Sunday shoppers during the month of December, and she offers a unique spin on gift certificates—each one is handmade, and printed on vintage stationery.

The Funky Hippy offers items for men as well, and there is much to see in the small and—yes—funky space, where Ward displays like items together, for browsing ease. Many items are priced as a category; for example, most sweaters sell for $15, and dense, insulating faux fur coats are $40. Gloves—many never worn—range from $5–30, with rare items priced higher.

Small household items, and a collection of vintage jewelry from the 60s through 80s round out the shop’s inventory. “I have many big, bold pieces—big is fashionable right now,” Ward stated. “The bigger the better!”

Ward frequently updates her inventory, explaining, “I’m back and forth between the stores a few times a week. Every time I’m down there I pick up more stuff to bring back, to offer the best of what I have.”

When she’s not traveling between stores, Ward plays piano and sings vocals with Raw Purr, a trio whose musical style Ward describes as “jazz-infused rock with a blues twinge.”  The group plays “all over,” said Ward, and recently appeared at the Barking Spider in University Circle. “Performing brings opportunities to dress up and have fun,” she added.

While she can’t pinpoint the exact genesis of her stores’ name, Ward revealed, “I am definitely a ‘funky hippy,’ and I like that if you break up the two words, you end up with ‘fun’ and ‘hip.’ I am a hippie retroactively—I wasn’t raised in the actual hippie era, but I inherited all the best qualities of that time.”

A former marketing professional, Kim Sergio Inglis recently relocated to Cleveland Heights from Brooklyn, NY.


The Funky Hippy

 2265 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights

Open Tues.–Sat., 12–7 p.m.; Sun. 12–5 p.m. (Dec. only)

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 9:22 AM, 11.18.2010