MONMOUTH — A funny thing happened when Buffy Dumont and her teenage daughter, Abby Hoffay, began painting together last year, then began hosting classes for friends of theirs to do the same.

“We started spending more time together,” Dumont recalled. “We were connecting in a way that wasn’t on our cellphones.”

It wasn’t long before Dumont, a former banking executive with direct marketing experience, realized the act of doing crafts with her daughter and friends, without the distraction of their digital products, was one that she could market.

Now she and her husband, Dan Dumont, have started Chalky & Co., a business that sells wooden trinkets made in Monmouth, as well as the paint and powders customers can use to give those pieces a colorful, vintage feel.

Dan and their employees craft the wood pieces, which include everything from small coat racks to picture frames to more decorative items, such as crosses and replica ship anchors.

The first half of the company’s name, “Chalky,” relates to another product they carry: powders that can be mixed with paint and water, then applied to a piece of wood. When applied, Dumont said, the paint-powder combination can give that product the weathered — or chalky — look of something that has been in a family for many years.


The second half of the business title refers to the way those kits can inspire people to “have company over.”

To market the experience of connecting with friends or family, Dumont has recruited consultants and hosts around the country to organize “Chalky & Co.” parties. Think Tupperware parties, but with arts-and-crafts instead of kitchen supplies.

“In addition to the chalk, you invite people over and you rediscover relationships,” Dumont said of the parties her company hosts. “It’s really about family. We needed to develop a company that reconnects people without the technology.”

The consultants earn a commission for every sale and also try to recruit other consultants. Hosts work with the consultants to order crafting kits and throw parties, and can earn discounted kits by doing so.

The starter kit for those who want to be consultants costs $99 and comes with one wood product, several containers of powder and glaze, an apron, catalogs and order forms, according the company’s spring catalog.

So far, the model seems to be working.


When Chalky & Co. launched last June, Dumont said, she had recruited about 20 consultants around the country. But through a mix of social media, word-of-mouth marketing and other means, the company now has almost 500 active consultants, and its parties have been held in all 50 states.

Dumont is now looking to expand into Canada. This weekend, the company is holding a convention in Boston for its nationwide network of consultants. To approximate the feeling of Maine, Dumont said “red snapper” hot dogs will be served.

The company is now based in the old Monmouth Police Department building at 767 Main St., but Dumont said it soon plans to expand into a bigger building just up the road. She calls the new site the “Chalky campus.”

One of the company’s more experienced consultants, Jana Zuercher, of Attica, Kansas, was in Monmouth this week ahead of the Boston convention. She and her husband, Jon, eventually hope to travel to all 50 states and were using the trip as an opportunity to cross the Pine Street State off their list.

Zuercher, a retired teacher, has worked for other direct sales businesses, including Tupperware and a jewelry company. She learned of Chalky & Co. through a friend, and now credits Dumont for its success.

“Buffy is the heart of the company,” she said.


When organizing parties, Zuercher said she tries to get all the sales completed before the events, so that those who are participating can focus exclusively on the crafts. She appreciates the parties for the same reasons Dumont does.

“People always have their noses in their cellphones,” she said. “You don’t see that in our workshops.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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