In 2016, CeCe Hunt was expecting, and trying to put together a nursery on a budget.
“I found something I wanted but didn’t want to pay that much for it, and I was like, ‘I can totally make that,’” recalls Hunt, who crafted her own version of a $1,200 chest for around $60. That initial creation arose out of financial necessity. Over time, however, she has grown to enjoy the process immensely.
“I not only love seeing the transformation in the item, but I also love my customers’ reaction when they see their piece,” Hunt says. “It’s priceless. You can’t buy that kind of satisfaction.”
Hunt, who has always loved refinishing old furniture, wanted to one day open her own studio space once her children were older and out of the house. Last year, however, fate intervened a tad earlier than expected.
“I’ve always eyed this particular space because I loved the location and the size,” says Hunt, referring to her North College Avenue location. “When the opportunity came to get this space, I couldn’t pass it up.”
The location is actually two connected storefronts. The smaller side was ideal for the studio Hunt had always craved, but she wasn’t sure if she was cut out to run a store.
“I like to work alone and paint furniture,” she says.
She kept an open mind and thought about how she doesn’t just paint furniture, but also creates all kinds of unique items that, time and again, friends have appreciated. She decided it would be nice to have a place to sell those items as well. She also loves teaching workshops, and the space offered a place to do so. After revamping the place to give it a fresher, hipper style, she opened the Makers’ Market in January of 2020.
The retail side sells do-it-yourself supplies and paint. The Makers’ Market carries not just Hunt’s merchandise, but also items from 45 other vendors and crafters. Though she loves featuring local artisans, in the future she hopes to sell artisan goods from all over the country – items she calls “original, different and funky.”
“I like to find small-batch or handcrafted, one-of-a-kind things from all over,” says Hunt, adding that people often describe her store as a hidden gem since it contains products that can’t be found elsewhere or even online.
When it comes to pricing custom orders, she charges by the hour.
“I am intentionally not expensive because I don’t ever want people to feel like they can’t come in and ask for what they want,” Hunt says.
When many businesses shut down last spring, Hunt remained remarkably busy.
“Turns out, people wanted furniture when they were stuck at home,” says Hunt, who sold 26 pieces in March alone, shipping to locations all across the county. “It was busy and stressful.”
During non-COVID times, Hunt offers weekly two-hour workshops on Saturdays that cover various painting techniques for art and furniture. For instance, she might offer a jewelry box workshop in which attendees start with a bare wooden jewelry box or a wooden wall panel.
“I love teaching people,” Hunt says. “It’s really fulfilling for me, so I can’t wait until I can get back to doing that.”
Hunt is also a social media influencer in the furniture world, and has sponsors and supporters.
“Everything that goes along with that style, I put in my store,” Hunt says. “People who like my style come in and see my stuff, and it just clicks with them and makes them happy.”
Some of her fun, funky items include what she calls “dessert shoes.”
“People say, ‘You can’t wear those,’ but you can,” Hunt says. “Everything is functional.”
She also creates dessert-themed jewelry and a candle line.
Hunt takes custom orders and can make just about anything, though she hesitates to call what she does “repurposing.”
“I embellish things,” she says. “Yes, I might take an old hutch and turn it into a bookshelf, but mostly I paint things to make them look cool. I don’t just paint and call it a day. I like to make things extra and over the top.”
Hunt’s children enjoy coming into the shop and assisting her from time to time. She’s happy to have the help, though the most important thing to her is to model a strong work ethic for her kids.
“I hope as they grow up and see all the effort I put into my work, it will teach them the importance of putting your heart into something,” she says. “I want them to do what fulfills them. If they have a dream, go for it. Whatever you can dream, you can do. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t, but you’ll learn a lesson.”
The Makers’ Market is located at 5208 North College Avenue in Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-426-2605 or visit makersmarketindy.com.