Indy Chamber fills empty storefronts with local entrepreneurs

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is once again filling empty storefronts around the city with local entrepreneurs for the month of May.

Be-Z-Art, 231 Virginia Avenue, is one of 11 locations featuring 30 different brands as part of this initiative. Inside you can find everything from photography and paintings to even one-of-a-kind monster masks.

Be-Z-Art is a group of local artists selected by the chamber to showcase and sell their works.

“We are trying to mix together art, like visual art, but also fashion,” Marc Ebinger, facilitator with Be-Z-Art, said.

They are a diverse group with one-of-a-kind talents and abilities.

Jessica West is a costume and clothing designer who is being featured inside the Virginia Avenue store. She can make anything from a 7-foot Chewbacca costume to a flashy street wear ensemble. She has been sewing for more than 25 years and was invited to design costumes with Cirque Du Soleil on one of their cruises before the pandemic postponed the season.

Provided Photo/Jess West (Instagam: @jesswestcostumes)

“Everybody was always like, ‘where did you get that,’ and I decided to share it with everyone and come up with a clothing line called ‘Gawdy,'” West said.

She has two clothing lines showcased at Be-Z-Art, her custom, hand-made line of loud, eccentric pieces called ‘Gawdy’ and her line of thrift store finds that she upcycles to give a new sustainable life is called ‘Twisted Thrifter’.

She says having an opportunity to showcase her work in this storefront allows her clients to be able to see and feel her work in a way they otherwise wouldn’t be able to while also reaching a new audience.

“It is always nice to see people in stuff that I have made and see how it makes them feel about themselves when they wear it out,” West said.

Other items in this specific location include photography, paintings, shoes and even taxidermy jewelry.

“Designs that you don’t see anywhere else. Some things that are locally created not standard, real design,” Ebtinger said.

West also appreciates the variety, both in terms of the goods themselves and the people producing them.

“And get a wide variety of artists as opposed to having a pop-up where it is just one thing,” she said.

Photo Provided/StartUp317

Each of the 11 locations featured as part of this initiative are open through the end of the month. Each location features different entrepreneurs who offer different specialties and services.