Red Bluff’s Makery 1900
By Melissa Mendonca
Make, Merry & More
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis Leclair
IN A STORY that should warm the hearts of high school teachers and administrators everywhere, Andrea Emerick not only completed her senior project in 2004 at Orland High School, but went into the field she researched. “The topic I chose for my senior project was antique restoration,” says the owner of Makery 1900, a relatively new business in downtown Red Bluff which teaches basic to advanced furniture refinishing for projects large and small.
It’s a skill she learned from her family, “hanging out with my dad when he would have time off and teach me about refinishing.” Her passion for antiques came from family vacations antiquing and hitting yard sales. “Old pieces are made to last,” says Emerick. “They have character.”
There’s a joy in seeing a piece come back to life through careful refinishing for her. “I’ve really taken a liking to finishing early 1900s vanities,” says Emerick. “There’s something special about seeing a little girl sit at a vanity I refinished and seeing her learn to admire herself.”
A mother of three children under 4, Emerick says she not only finds joy in seeing a child use her furniture, but also finds respite in the refinishing process. “It’s creative therapy,” she says, noting that a reason she opened the shop was to share the practice with others. “Our goal is simple. It’s to have and provide a stress-free environment where people can shop and relax and get some paint therapy. You can lose yourself in what you’re doing.” She’s also thrilled to watch friendships develop, especially amongst women who may be more isolated as stay-at-home moms.
Makery 1900 has hosted everything from birthday to Welcome to Remission parties, and Emerick has seen great leaps of confidence in attendees. “At one of my workshops, a gal who had never refurnished anything came to learn how. She chose the colors for the house she would move into based on the color of her piece. That was a great honor. Another customer gained confidence to paint her entire kitchen.”
“We give advice all the time,” says Emerick. “But usually we tell people to start with something small before taking on the family heirloom.”
“One of the most special workshops we offer is during the holidays when we create personalized Santa Sacks, a special DIY keepsake to use for countless years,” she says. “In December, many personalized and custom project requests come to life in our small workshop, which is a joyful blessing to be part of.”
Makery 1900 stocks paints and supplies by such brands as Fusion Mineral and Dixie Belle. “They are non-toxic so you can still do projects in winter,” Emerick says. Both companies started small and are quickly growing in the market, bringing Emerick much pride.
The store has branched out to stock retail gifts as well as supplies, a turn Emerick took after realizing “not everyone wants a dresser.” The store prides itself on showcasing the wares of other local makers. “The first year we were entirely fire wives, but I didn’t even realize it,” she says with a laugh. “Everyone around me is fire.” The daughter of a CalFire employee and the wife of a CalFire battalion chief, Emerick herself started out as a firefighter and spent many years as a dispatcher. Eventually, she broke out on her own endeavor.
“I am just an overly ambitious lady who decided I wanted to take my hobby to the next level and turn it into a business,” she says. “And I wanted to offer workshops because it was something the community didn’t have and I thought it would be beneficial.” She came about the activity as a respite in child rearing. “In 2016 I picked up the hobby of refinishing furniture as a therapeutic outlet during my boys’ naps and when they went to bed. I would stay up until midnight making over vanities and dressers, taking over my garage with my projects.”
Whatever the project or time of year, Emerick says the success of Makery 1900 and others lies in the community. “It is our small community’s support, and those who shop local who allow my business to grow and support other local makers’ dreams.” •
620 Main Street, Red Bluff