Cocoon, which opened on Nov. 25, will feature a studio; a gallery; and artisan goods, including art supplies. It’s the brainchild of Josie Garcia and Tedd Smith, who arrived in Grand Rapids in 2021 from Phoenix, Arizona, and took up residence here in Heartside.
Besides their two daughters, Josie and Tedd brought along the Cocoon brand (which they started in 2017 as a pop-up art space in Phoenix) and Monstorium, a line of “creepy-cute” monster characters that includes stuffies, wooden ornaments, stickers, totes and apparel, among other wares.
Cocoon’s new brick-and-mortar location also provides Monstorium a base of operations. “A place for Monstorium to call home will provide the humans time to design and develop new critters, make said new critters, and offer more monster products than ever before,” the couple writes on the Monstorium site.
Learning from the rise of Phoenix
While Josie was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Arizona, Tedd is a Michigan native who studied visual communication at Ferris State University before moving to Phoenix in the 1990s.
“The creative scene in Phoenix is thriving,” Josie told ArtRat. “Over the years, we witnessed great changes that came about through the hard work of many individuals and local organizations.
"The city’s First Friday Art Walk became a driving force for the downtown’s development and economy, providing an outlet for creatives and small business," she said.
“During the time we were making and selling art, we saw many spaces, places and people participate in the Roosevelt Row First Friday Night Markets. Downtown became the destination for residents and visitors — not only for museums and private galleries, but also retail shops, restaurants, bars, food trucks, coffee shops, brick-and-mortar shops and streets with artisans and food vendors selling their products.
“Murals and public art played a huge role in connecting these businesses and places together. Shuttle transportation was provided; maps were created; and streets were closed down to accommodate a walkable, accessible art walk and cultural event.”
Connecting the dots in downtown GR
Now the couple is ready to apply the lessons they learned in Phoenix to downtown Grand Rapids. “Through our creative activities, we hope to support the tireless efforts of the people working in this community to nurture positive growth in SoDiv and the greater downtown area,” Josie said.
“The growth of other businesses in SoDiv and downtown will only contribute to Cocoon’s success. By building relationships with the neighboring businesses, collaborating with them, sharing their success, we hope to grow with them.
"We look forward to connecting, collaborating and cross-promoting with Heartside and downtown businesses and organizations to increase awareness, traffic and sales for everyone. All we have to do is get the word out about everything the Division Business Corridor has to offer!”
Cocoon Art Space is open Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm.