The Makers Market and Workshops, Jennifer Bade and Jennifer Gunter
From the grand opening to their recent one year anniversary, The Makers Market has been well received by their community. Nearly every workshop has been full, with a waiting a list. They have even had to implement ways to add more classes to keep up with the demand. Jenn and Jenny have also been featured on two DIY segments on the The Suncoast View, a television show in Sarasota, Florida.
Having no previous business experience, we did not know where to start. We started with researching, and were directed toward SCORE for mentorship. If it were not for this program, we probably would never have opened our shop.
Our mentor, Jon Stuart was very enthusiastic about our concept from the beginning when we first met with him in May of 2016. At our first meeting, he spent a couple of hours with us, and asked when we wanted to open. We told him by October in time for the holiday season. He thought for a moment, and replied "We better get started then." He gave us insight into marketing strategies, how to set up a business, insurance, accounting... all of the things you don't think about when dreaming of owning a business. Each week when we met with him, he gave us a task we had to complete by our next meeting. He was always surprised at our meetings with how on target we were with making our dream a reality. Jon, was an important piece of our business start up.
As the stay-at-home moms, crafters and former dental assistants saw things like Pinterest and painting parties grow in popularity, they saw an opportunity in their hometown of Bradenton. "After being stay-at-home moms, and all the kids being school age, both of our husband's had asked if we were going back to work." Says Gunter. "Basically, they suggested we get a job." Both not wanting to return to the dental field, Jennifer Bade and Jennifer Gunter came up with the idea for The Makers Market and Workshops in May of 2016, and have been running with it ever since.
The store offers regularly scheduled workshops and private parties where customers can get crafty by staining, painting, and stenciling rustic wooden signs, planter boxes, centerpieces and other wood projects. “People are looking for something they can go do with their friends instead of just going to dinner or movies all the time,” says Bade. “And they want the DIY experience. They want to learn how to do something.” Gunter adds, "We call it cheating at art and crafting with power tools. Anyone can do it, and they will leave with a home decor project they will love."
Bade has been making and selling wooden signs on her own for several years, and her father, a master carpenter, pre-builds all of the projects, on which customers will work.
The Makers Market also features a retail component, offering rustic-meets-coastal merchandise, personalized gifts, and items made by local vendors.
The venture was self-financed mainly because loans aren’t easy to get when you don’t have any customers. “To be able to start a business from scratch, you really have to use your personal backing to do it,” says Bade.
They also took advantage of the free mentoring offered by SCORE Manasota, working with Jon Stuart, a volunteer mentor with a marketing background. “I think that’s why things have moved so quickly, because of the fact that we’ve had a mentor who’s been very encouraging,” says Gunter.
To get the word out about their endeavor, they’ve been using Instagram and running contests on Facebook. They also hosted prototype workshops at Bade’s home to let people sample the concept and provide feedback.
Their desire to give back to the community has also helped the business gain traction. Each month, they hold a fundraising workshop to benefit nonprofit organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The Makers Market donates 50% of the proceeds from the workshops, a move that allows Bade and Gunter to exercise their philanthropic interests and helps get the business’s name out into the community.
Edited article: A crafty approach - The Business Observer
By: Beth Luberecki | Contributing Writer October 07, 2016