Column in Business in Savannah by Emily McLeod Sulkes.
Do you have a collection of items pinned on Pinterest that you would like to make someday? Have you ever walked away from a store thinking “I could make that”? If so, you’re in good company.
“Roughly half of American adults call themselves makers,” according to a recent article in Popular Science. But having the idea to create doesn’t automatically lead to creation. Being struck by such inspiration usually leads to a flurry of research, only to be followed by the realization that the tools are pricey, the supplies don’t fit together as easily as first thought, and your garage is already full to the brim.
Enter the makerspace. Makerspaces are, at minimum, community centers with tools. They house equipment, and often the training and knowledge, you need to bring your Pinterest boards, back of the napkin plans and inspiration into reality. According to Makerspace.com, such spaces “represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education.”
According to Popular Science, “makerspaces have exploded in popularity all over the globe….[with] nearly 1,400 active spaces, 14 times as many as in 2006.” More than 400 of these spaces are in the U.S.
Interested? Wondering how Savannah can participate in this trend?
Enter the Maven Makers, Savannah’s very own makerspace. Established in 2015, Maven Makers is a spacious workshop full of tools, materials and ideas for your next creative project. They also offer classes and safety training. Says cofounder Tim Cone, “Savannah has always had a culture of making, and we’re excited to take a 21st century approach to that idea by offering access and training on everything from table saws to 3D printers!”
What does a more skilled local community mean for Maven Makers? While it might start with completing some items from your Pinterest board, it certainly doesn’t end there. They see the possibility of economic development and the creation of innovation for years to come. According to Maven Makers cofounder Ty Donaldson, “our makerspace is not just for the hobbyist but for the professional also. Maven Makers provides a hardware startup without the startup cost.”
At makerspaces throughout the country, this has indeed proven to be the case. One such success, the Pebble Smartwatch, which was prototyped in a makerspace, raised $1 million in less than an hour on Kickstarter and ultimately overfunded its goal by 4,000 percent. The iPhone and iPad DODOcase was created in a makerspace. As was the dongle for Square, the credit-card-processing and payment system.
Maven Makers cofounders Ty and Tim have the expertise to assist with the professional side of the makerspace movement. Ty graduated from SCAD in 2010 with a BFA in Industrial Design. He worked at Calphalon and at SCAD managing the Rapid Prototyping services. Tim graduated from UGA in 2009 with a BS in Engineering Education and spent five years at Woodville Tompkins Technical and Career High School teaching manufacturing, robotics, and engineering.
So what products are coming out of Maven Makers now? One recent development is that Candace Brodmann, founder of Moss & Marsh, screen-prints her functional, unique products that make parenting easier with the Maven Makers. Her line of 11 items, including bibs, swaddles and a bath apron, launched in April and all the products are completely made in Savannah. Candace has been operating in the space since last fall and says that when she’s taking up a 16-foot table to screen-print her fabrics by hand, it’s “impossible not to engage with the other makers and artists in the community.” She’s found Maven Makers to be an “inspiring atmosphere,” that allows “people to build on each other.”
When Candace thinks about producing her products if Maven Makers was not in the community, she contemplates “a hodge-podge solution” and notes that it’s much easier to “complete her process at Maven Makers.” Renting dedicated space, purchasing screen-printing equipment, and paying the utilities would cost much more. Over the next year Candace hopes to spread into other Lowcountry locations while building her online following. If you check out Maven Makers, you will increasingly see Candace in action.
Inspired? Interested in starting a project or business yourself? Then check out Maven Makers. Maven Makers is located at 415 W. Boundary St. (that’s here in The Creators’ Foundry with The Creative Coast). They’re open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Membership rates, equipment lists, class schedules and more are all available at http://www.mavenmakers.com. Ty, Tim and the Maven Makers staff are always happy to tour the space with you!
Emily McLeod Sulkes is the programs manager for The Creative Coast, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. Sulkes can be reached at 912-447-8457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Business in Savannah