Bodo Builds Common Goods to Support Local Businesses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – After losing her job early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheri Bodo decided to focus on something that made her happy and gave her purpose. The result is Common Goods Studio, a cafe near Mill Creek Park that sells everything from coffee and vegan snacks to locally made clothing, tables and art.

“As someone who’s young and wants to go places to hang out with my friends and support small businesses, I felt Youngstown didn’t really have that all in one place. There are pieces of it in pockets of the community, but not all together. I thought, ‘Why not create it?’” says Bodo.

Her first entry into the business world was in 2018 with The Back Rack, a vintage and upcycled clothing store Bodo ran with her sister. It was that venture that exposed her to the small-business community around Youngstown and inspired her to dedicate a large part of her cafe to local artisans.

“It gave me a chance to get into that space and learn about the small-business community, not only how Youngstown supports us but how we support each other,” she says. “I wanted to make a space for everybody, so everyone can get exposure no matter what they make. I want diverse things; you can buy anything from a pair of socks to a $3,000 table. You can expose yourself to so many customers.”

Before opening her café, Bodo knew that not only did the coffee products have to be up to snuff but that she had to have “complete knowledge of coffee so that I knew I could speak to our product.

“Not only that, I wanted to make sure we have quality over quantity. Everything here is from scratch. Everything is dairy-free and vegan,” she continues. “We show that not only are we capable of making great coffee, but that we’re doing everything with intention.”

Looking around the Mahoning Valley, Bodo says she’s encouraged by the rise of other Black-owned businesses around her. She points to vegan restaurant Cosmic Kitchen in Youngstown and the Carmella Marie beauty products line.

But she knows there’s more to be done.

It’s her hope that the success of Common Goods can serve as an inspiration to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“It means a lot to not only be a young business owner but also a Black woman business owner as well. It means a lot to see the community support me. But it’s also my duty going forward to make sure that young, Black women understand that there are opportunities out there for us,” she says.

“We have to chase after it. No matter what society tells us or what our past tells us, we have to be the activists of change for our future generations.”

This story appeared in the August issue of The Business Journal and is part of our Minority Entrepreneurship Week. Read about our diversity, equity and inclusion platform HERE.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.