BJU alumni Mark and Kristen Studdard (Humanities, ’10; Elementary Education, ’12) own Makari Designs. Mark crafts furniture the old-fashioned way while Kristen does the book work. The Studdards were two of the 14 BJU alumni who participated in the 2019 Indie Craft Parade. Listen to their story in this video by BJU cinema production students Kyle West and David Ruiz.
Mark Studdard: I kinda go back to the core, the beginning of where I started was in BJU. I majored in humanities, and I had to have an art elective. And so, I took Ceramics 101 and enjoyed it so much that I was like, okay, I’ll take the next class. And then I didn’t need any more, but I said, Can I go ahead and take the third class? And April Schwingle was my teacher. She’s like, okay, yeah, you can go ahead and take it. And after I took that I actually ended up consuming the last two years of my school life and I kind of let my grades go down, but my pottery went way up because I enjoyed it so much. And after I finished the third class, I was like, is there any way I can just keep on coming to the ceramics room to make pottery? She’s like, yeah, that’s fine. Just keep on coming as much as you want.
We started our business so that both of us can work in humanitarian Christian missions type of environment. And so, one of the things I just did last summer was I worked with Samaritan’s Purse in Nepal helping with the earthquake relief. And through all this time I’m working overseas, I always was just like, hey, I really miss working with my hands. I remembered back when I did ceramics. I was like, what can I do using my hands as I’m working overseas? And it’s like, oh, I can’t take pottery overseas, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to do woodworking. So, I packed a 50-pound suitcase full of just random tools I could find—hand woodworking tools—took them to Iraq with me and just started learning how to use the tools, make stuff.
After two years of working there, we needed a break. So, I came back to the States. I said, well, I want to work for myself. So, I started a ceramics/woodworking business. Turns out woodworking was more profitable for me than ceramics, and so then I ended up doing woodworking. Now my poor ceramics shop is just one little kiln in the corner my shop. But that all started with Mrs. Schwingle in the ceramics lab, and I was like, hey, this is a really fun class.
I try to build quality furniture at affordable prices, and I try to make it better than something you’re going to put together with screws and nails but something you’re not going to pay an arm and a leg for. So, I’m trying to meet that middle ground of really beautiful, quality furniture.