Cera Marquez and the magic of dead bugs

//Cera Marquez, owner of CC Oddities by Cera, arranges items in the window at Intrigue Boutique in Denver on Oct. 19. Photo by Karson Hallaway | karsonhallaway@gmail.com

Oddities and antiques have long been a way for people to confront the reality of their own immortality.  

For Cera C. Marquez, creating mini-worlds from bones, pinned insects and dried plants is a way to “breathe life into death.”    

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been confronted with the death of thousands of strangers on a daily basis. On a personal level, Marquez suffered the loss of her father to stage four cancer—throwing her deeper into grief. A few months later, she discovered a dead bug that set her on a new path.

“It was a little bit of a dark time for me,” Marquez said. “I was going through some tough things with my personal life and home life and trying to keep a business afloat during a pandemic. It was just a lot. I found a bug on a hike, he was dead when we met, and I brought him home, taught myself how to relax, rehydrate, and pin him. It’s been a journey since then.”

Marquez uses her found friends to craft delicate Curio Capsules, where beetles, moths, and the skulls of other small creatures are preserved and posed with crystals inside beautiful glass domes. In addition to these delicate art pieces, she also creates hand-blended herbal teas and hand-poured candles laden with specific intents. 

As the owner of two businesses, CC Oddities by Cera and CC Styles by Cera, Marquez is both breathing new life into death and helping women discover their sense of post-quarantine fashion.

CC Styles by Cera is Marquez’s collaboration with Intrigue Boutique in Denver. She sources and hand-selects comfortable clothing locally and online, offering just a few, exclusive pieces at a time inside Intrigue Boutique. Her newest business, CC Oddities by Cera, is “just me, my hands and anything I can find or work with to create decor for people who collect oddities, curiosities, bones, antiques and magic,” Marquez said. 

Marquez began her wholesale fashion career at age 19. Only 10 years later, she found herself in a new city and the owner of two businesses fueled by her own artistic style and vision. But she would never have gotten there without trying on different hats, figuratively speaking.

“I got a bachelor’s in religious studies, then I went and got a degree in business just to cover general bases because I had no idea,” Marquez said. “I ended up answering a phone [at a wholesale fashion company] in Los Angeles, and that’s really what led me to here.”

Marquez admired the independent fashion artists she encountered at her LA desk job and decided to follow in their footsteps. On an adventurous impulse, she came to Denver to find her fashion niche. 

And thus, CC Styles by Cera was born. You can find her pieces online and inside Intrigue Boutique, a retail space featuring 20 local businesses and charity-based brands. The styles on her rack range from zip-up denim overalls and smart cardigans to a polka-dotted button-down jumpsuit. According to Marquez, her approach stands apart from other fashion brands because it doesn’t focus on what is on trend; rather, it emphasizes pieces that make anyone wearing them feel both distinctive and chic. 

“I’m just so thankful for everyone that I’ve met here,” Marquez said. “CC Styles by Cera was embraced, and I found my niche. Within fashion, it’s so much more than just an article of clothing for me on a body. It’s making you feel confident, making you feel like you can conquer anything.” 

While CC Oddities takes a slight leap from its predecessor, many of the same threads run through both. The pieces stand out with bones and curiosities she ethically sources and forages for in the same way she discovers clothing for CC Styles.

The magic tools, loose leaf tea, hand-poured candles and oddity jars at CC Oddities—available online and at Arcana Herbal—are all items that Marquez found therapeutic for herself.  

Ultimately, Marquez is happy she took the leap of faith—to Colorado and in her business ventures. She says it’s a testament to trusting yourself and embracing life’s surprises

“I never expected this chapter to start. The bottom line is never limit yourself because you never know what you’re capable of,” Marquez said. “You could be capable of so much more in vast areas.” 




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2021 Denver holiday shopping guide!

2021 Denver holiday shopping guide!

Another year has come and gone. Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, whether our wallets like it or not.

Throughout the year we profiled so many amazing small businesses and artists in Denver that all deserve equal attention. Our 2021 shopping guide is a little smaller than last year, but you’ll see some familiar names like Awakening Boutique, Gasoline and Us and CC Oddities by Cera. We’ve also added some new names to the list selling incredible products. As always, we’ve highlighted Denver-based companies that are woman, LGBTQ+ or BIPOC-owned.

We all feel a little guilty picking something up for ourselves when we’re supposed to be shopping for others during the holiday season, don’t we? But with the companies we highlighted below, it’ll be a challenge not to get yourself a little gift as well. Some of these shops are also offering our subscribers a discount, so make sure you sign up for our email newsletter!

Happy shopping!

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