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The name Indigo Hippo comes from the creativity behind both the color indigo and hippos. Indigo is an interesting color that everyone interprets differently. Hippos depend on water to get to where they’re going, just as we should utilize creativity to get through life easier. Indigo Hippo represents the fact that we are diverse and imaginative beings. / Image: Lauren Mongelluzzo // Published: 2.20.19

Indigo Hippo Touts a Pay-What-You-Can System to Draw Everyone In

Indigo Hippo is a one-stop art supply thrift shop (and drop-off) that you should not skip when exploring Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. As a non-profit organization, Indigo Hippo is on a mission to remove the barrier of access to creating art by selling used and donated supplies. They recently moved to a new storefront where they have more space to take in more items, which customers can buy using their pay-what-you-can scale.

Even during dull Cincinnati winter days, you can’t help but feel inspired when you step inside Indigo Hippo's bright, delightfully crowded store. Inside you'll find all sorts of items like wood scraps, leather, paint, notebooks, and more. Their inventory is always changing with plenty of variety; most recently, there was a surge in art supply donations (possibly attributed to people getting rid of things they don't need after watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo), so regularly checking the store is advised.

As Storefront Director, Emily Farison is at the shop every day. She looks forward to the visitors who consider Indigo Hippo their go-to place thanks to its surprisingly affordable materials. On the flip side, she also finds joy in helping people find artistic uses for unused materials that may otherwise find their way to a landfill. Since they opened in March 2016, they’ve managed to keep $157,000 worth of products out of the trash, placing them back into the hands of people who want to create art. They call it creative reuse.

Emily says the most rewarding part of the process is how customers feel included, knowing they get to decide what they pay for the supplies they need.

“One of the coolest things that happens in our storefront is watching people become empowered through getting to be part of determining what the value of creativity and the value of the materials they are purchasing, means to them," she says.

This year, Indigo Hippo is going even further to serve the community through art. They're offering specialized and professional program training sessions that provide information on everything from outlining creative art curricula, to learning the best practices for teaching and evaluating, and more.

Emily says providing access to creative outlets is important because it helps to "normalize mental and emotional differences, bringing to light the tools that we all have to support ourselves.” These programs are great for professional artists, art teachers, amateurs, community leaders, and anyone who wants to afford a little art and imagination in their lives.

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Indigo Hippo is located at 1334 Main Street (45202). To learn more about programs and what supplies to donate, visit their site.