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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Maker Market highlights small businesses in the Wichita area

By purchasing handmade goods, Wichita State students can support small business owners. To do just this, the Student Activities Council recently hosted the Maker Market in the Rhatigan Student Center, which featured multiple small businesses selling jewelry, clothing, food, paintings and more.

One small business in attendance was Jack & Batt Candles, an ethical candle company. The business’ goal is to make candles that don’t contain dangerous chemicals and that are more sustainable than candles found at large-scale stores.

“Bath & Body Works has really bad candles; they smell good and whatever, but all chemicals are bad for you,” business owner Jack said. “I wanted to make candles that are good for you.”

Jack, who uses they/them pronouns, runs the candle business on top of being a busy student at WSU Tech, while holding a part-time job. They hope to turn candle-making into a full-time business one day.

“My business is too small to pay for all my bills … right now,” Jack said. “Eventually, the plan is to do the business.”

Jack has been running their business for around a year and a half, and they said that having an opportunity to sell candles at Wichita State brings them closer to their target market.

“Since I have cartoon-inspired candles, the older generation doesn’t necessarily understand, but the younger people here, they go nuts for that,” Jack said. “They love it; they love my stuff; and I’m happy.”

More information about Jack & Batt’s Candles business can be found at jackandbattcandles.com.

The Maker Market also hosted creators selling edible goods, like The Cookie QueenDom.

Cookie Queendom is run by Draziarae Cameron, who started baking for fun and to spend time with her family.

“My nieces come over a lot, and that’s how we bond — we get in the kitchen, and we start baking,” Cameron said. “That’s kind of how this started; I would go out with them to sell treats and stuff from my brother’s food truck.”

Cameron recently started her baking business, and the Maker Market is the first big sale she has attended.

“I’ve been baking for about five months now, so it’s really early in the process,” Cameron said.  “This is kind of like a market test to see what sells and what’s doing the best so far.”

Despite being new to the world of small business, Cameron is optimistic about opening her own bakery in the future.

Alongside cookie and candle businesses, the Maker Market also hosted small business veterans, like Barbara Blumenshine and her business Belle & Buddy’s Kitchen.

Belle & Buddy’s Kitchen sells jams and jellies in a wide variety of flavors, from classic strawberry jam to jams with jalapeno peppers. Blumenshire started canning 30 years ago as a hobby and has been running her small business for the last eight years.

“When our youngest son started high school, I thought it was time to do something for me,” Blumenshire said. “I was a stay-at-home mom, nonstop running and taking them to and from school. They all played sports, music, all of that, so I just never had time to do anything.”

Blumenshire enjoys what she does regardless of the occasional hardships that come with owning the business.

“Sometimes, it’s kind of challenging,” she said. “Sometimes the economy goes a little bit bad, and you kind of have to work through that.”

Blumenshire thinks that having events like the Maker Market at Wichita State more frequently would have positive benefits for her own and other small businesses. She suggested making Makers Market an annual event, which would lead the community to expect and ask about it every year.

“People would get used to the fact that this time of year, every year, they’ve got something going on,” Blumenshire said.

Grace Houston, a sophomore at Wichita State majoring in elementary education, was one shopper who attended the event. Houston works at the Starbucks in the Rhatigan Student Center and often attends events like the Maker Market.

“It’s really cool to see all of the handmade stuff, and it’s never expensive,” Houston said.

Houston pointed out that the Maker Market not only helps small businesses but brings more people to the Rhatigan Student Center, as well.

“I always really enjoy seeing them in here,” Houston said. “All these events bring more business to the stores and everything, and I think they’re really fun.”

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About the Contributors
Lydia Steeby
Lydia Steeby, Reporter
Lydia Steeby is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She's lived in Wichita her whole life and loves to be outside. A freshman, she is an undecided major exploring different career paths involving writing. Steeby also enjoys reading, playing the trumpet and making art.
Monique Bever
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a first-year reporter and photographer. She is a freshman majoring in philosophy. Monique has lived in Wichita for most of her life. She loves film, fashion, and her cat.

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