New location, new day for artist-friendly Makers Loft

The Makers Loft moved into the space where Zephyr Printing used to be, and since then has seen an increase in foot traffic.


Michael Guhin

Makers Loft coffee shop is seen on Monday, June 17th, 2019.(Michael Guhin/The Daily Iowan)

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

Artist- and creator-friendly outlet Makers Loft has seen an uptick in customer activity since its move from Washington Street to the Pedestrian Mall.

Previously, the location was home to Zephyr Printing, and founder Simeon Talley said after Zephyr closed, he and the staff decided to move in and set up shop. The biggest addition to the Maker’s Loft in the new location is a coffee bar with a walk-up order window.

Talley said that while the new space is smaller, with the increased foot traffic and ability to make such changes as the coffee bar, the new location is far better for business. The idea for the bar came from conversations with friends, he said, and that the store already sold coffee blends.

“We wanted to make the best use of this space, and that’s what we did,” Talley said.

Before founding and opening Makers Loft in October 2018, Talley did extensive work in the Iowa City artist community through working with Little Village and festivals such as Flyover Fest.

RELATED: The Makers Loft is Iowa City’s latest spot for homegrown arts and crafts 

A steady stream of foot traffic kept Makers Loft active on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, coming from the Block Party or a shopping spree at other Ped Mall businesses. Although Makers Loft has been in Iowa City for months, with the new location, many people are seeing it for the first time. Talley said he expects to see even more business when Ped Mall construction is finished.

Makers Loft was created with local artists in mind, hoping to bring more attention to independent creators by hosting their craft. On display in Makers Loft is a variety of locally made or designed wares such as shirts, candles, stickers and artistic prints that show scenes from nature or stranger things, including robots with guns.

“We exist to provide a platform and a store dedicated to promoting Iowa artists and Iowa goods, and I think that’s a unique thing,” Talley said. “It’s really about celebrating and connecting homegrown or talent living and creating right here in our community.”

Cara Slabaugh, one of the contributing creators for Makers Loft, creates homemade natural soap from a soap kitchen on her family farm. Her business, called Wild Farm Soap, was established in 2016. She sells her natural vegetable glycerin-based soaps wholesale and also in different local stores and websites such as Etsy.

“I sell a lot to antique and gift shops, so this is my first experience with other artists, and it just has a different vibe,” Slabaugh said. “I love it; they’re cool people.”

Juan Ferrer and Ann Marie Torres stopped by Makers Loft on Sunday and left with a artistic print of a tortoise because of their pet tortoise named Gracie at home. Ferrer acknowledged he never would have found Makers Loft if it had remained a second-floor shop on Washington Street, and now, he said, the store is much more approachable with all of the natural light.

“I like this kind of store where you get your own frames and nicer prints and help out local artists, because I know it’s not easy,” Ferrer said.