#3. Gretchen Meyers – Makers Workshop

What is Makers?

Makers is a DIY workshop for modern craft.

Gretchen Meyer - Makers Workshop Buffalo

The idea for Makers came about shortly after Gretchen started Peg’s Hardware 4 years ago. “It manifested itself from friends who are teachers, and a lot of friends that are disgruntled about cuts to creative programs in public schools.”

Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo
Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo

Gretchen sees Makers as an arts community center. It is a place that offers enrichment classes for middle school children (Mini-Makers), portfolio enhancement for high school students as well as continuing education for adults, or even just a fun ladies night out!

Tell us about Peg’s Hardware…since it came first.

“The name, Peg’s Hardware comes from my grandmother. When I was 14 years old I told her that I wanted to design jewelry. She believed in my creativity and gave me a $100 bill.  I went out and bought some tools and beads, and my sister brought home home a bag of broken jewelry.”   This is how Gretchen got started with jewelry-making, and although many career twists happen in between then and now (more about that later in the interview), Gretchen tells us about how she started selling her Peg’s Hardware products:  “I was very lucky to have worked at Half & Half on and off since high school. Debbie, the owner let me throw up a few pieces in her store and they sold and I kept doing more and more, and 4 years later, here I am.”

Peg's Hardware
Peg's Hardware

Beth’s current go-to jewelry from Peg’s hardware

“It’s been a complete whirlwind. I’m 100% self-taught so I’m still constantly learning what works, what doesn’t, what materials to use. I’m still figuring out the ebb and flow of Makers because it’s still so young.  It’s like Peg’s is the toddler and Makers is the infant.”  Props to Gretchen for running and balancing two businesses, as you can imagine, no easy task.

Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo
Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo

How do you pick a certain craft for a workshop?

“There are three main things that I try to keep into consideration when I set a workshop in motion: it has to be very beginner friendly. The point of this is to have a fun night out with your friends. I don’t want you sitting there struggling, frustrated. I also try to keep it within an hour and a half to two hour time period. So it isn’t too time consuming. I want it to be something that you’ll actually use. I don’t want it to end up in your basement. I want to keep it at a cost that it would be for a night out. You can make something yourself for $28 or $40 that you would see at anthropologie or free people for a lot more.”

She will even tailor-make a class or workshop for a private party (perfect for a unique bachelorette party activity!).

What surprises people the most about Makers?

“The funniest part is that people don’t realize that it even exists and are happy and excited to find out.”

Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo
Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo

What would you tell someone who is interested, but doesn’t consider themselves creative?

“Everybody harbors some form of creativity. It’s in you. It’s part of your DNA. It’s what makes you an individual. It’s my job to provide you with the supplies and instruction to bring that out. What makes Makers different from other craft nights is that my main drive is for you to have your own artistic interpretation of everything you make.” She helps to facilitate this by teaching people the basics and principles of design, rather than just following a set of instructions.

“I want people to flex their creative muscles.”
This workshop could end up being quite therapeutic for all of you Type A’s and perfectionists:  “I get a lot of people that come in and get frustrated. I tell them to just start doing it, let it go. Sometimes it’s better if you don’t have a plan.  If you just start gluing buttons down, it’s amazing where it can take you.”

Why do you think your business does well here in Buffalo?

“Unlike some larger cities, there’s more opportunity for people to get started here in Buffalo because it’s smaller and less competition.  And there is a lot of local support for people who want to create something. This city is a blank canvas. It’s whatever we want to make it.”

“When I came back, Buffalo wasn’t was it is now.  People are coming back to Buffalo to be around family and friends and be in a place that they love.” She recalls a Pan Am poster, which displayed “Buffalo…the Seductress that eventually lures us home”.

Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo
Makers Workshop - Gretchen Meyers - Buffalo

What do you see as the future for Makers?

“I’m very excited to see where it goes.  Ultimately I would like to completely blow it out of the water and open it up to all facets of creativity – culinary, music, photo, sculpture.” She wants it to become an arts community center for the region.

What would you tell a younger version of yourself?

“Be patient. Listen to your intuition, be true to yourself and it’ll all fall into place.”

“I’m 35 now and things didn’t start falling into place until I was 31. I definitely struggled with trying to figure out what my purpose was.  I worked in the non-profit sector for about 5 years after I graduated school and it filled my soul, but not my bank account. I was young and working a lot.  It was like they wanted the pink slip to your life.  I’m glad I did it because it was one of the best learning experiences I ever had.  Then I went back to school for graphic design for 2 years and moved to Chicago.  I worked for an ad agency (which did NOT feed my soul).  I was let go from that position.  It was a blessing in disguise because that’s what started Peg’s.  I learned I am somebody who needs to work for myself.  And I think that’s quite honestly very common with creatives.  We have a hard time working on demand for someone, and we work much better working for ourselves.”

makers-gretchen meyers

Gretchen’s favorite Buffalo stuff!

  • COFFEE: Lexington Co-op – mind body & soul
  • DAY OFF ACTIVITY: Ride her bike to the Bidwell Farmers Market,grab a smoothie from Ashkers, then grab a coffee from the co-op.  Explore around Canalside.  Kayaking.
  • LANDSCAPE:  Sunset from Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse.

Nominations and Credits

Gretchen would like to credit some folks with her helping her succeed in her own projects as well as nominate them to be interviewed for Yeah! Buffalo:

  • Rise Collaborative
  • The Duo of Karle from Black Hammer Heart and Alyssa from Ink by Alyssa
  • Amy from Linwood Candle Company
  • Sean and Jackie from Wrafterbuilt
  • Erin Habes
  • Modern Nostalgia
  • Debbie from Half & Half

If you haven’t been to the Makers space yet, it’s in a space inside of Modern Nostalgia and Blue Collar at 1382 Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo. The class schedule is out on the Makers website, as well as Facebook.

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What do you think?

Written by Beth Insalaco
Beth is co-founder of Yeah! Buffalo and owner of Beth Insalaco Photography. Instagram: @bethinsalaco