June is Maker Month in Memphis

By Andy Meek

This month in Memphis is all about the makers. From a gathering at the Broad Avenue retailer City & State to a “Makers Faire” in front of City Hall to a new privately funded effort to better understand the local maker economy, June will see a celebration and showcase of the city’s community of makers, artisans and the like.

All of it comes on the heels of Memphis’ selection and recent participation in a Maker Cities Summit hosted by Etsy that focused on how makers, wholesalers and city officials can better work together.

A team from Memphis attended the summit in Brooklyn, N.Y., a few weeks ago that included Brit McDaniel, owner of Paper & Clay; Lisa Toro, owner of City & State; Maria Furhmann, city of Memphis grants coordinator; Jessica Taveau, director of marketing and communications for Memphis Bioworks and EPIcenter; and Nicole Heckman, partner at Little Bird Innovation and organizer of the Made By project.

Attendees of a “Meet Your Maker” happy hour reception June 17 at City & State, sponsored by Etsy Wholesale, will get some details about that summit and what it means for Memphis.

That reception at 2625 Broad Ave., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is also being held during the White House’s “National Week of Making,” which runs from June 17-23.

“We’re so excited to be a part of this renewed energy and opportunity to further grow and support the maker community here in Memphis,” Toro said. “As a locally owned small-business who specializes in handmade and small-batch products from all over the country, it’s important to us to continue to build a network of support and resources for makers here in our hometown.”

A few days after the City & State event, City Hall will be getting in on the action.

On June 21, Mayor Jim Strickland will sponsor an outdoor “Makers Faire” at 125 N. Main St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local vendors will be on hand with their wares, and Strickland will sign a pledge to support the growth of the industry in Memphis.

At the same time, all of these events will be used to generate publicity for the Made By Project, a collaboration of Little Bird Innovation and the EPIcenter organization. It is built around a survey of artisans, makers and micro-manufacturers from around the Memphis area to better understand their operations and what support might help fuel their growth even more.

They’ll be invited to take a short online survey at MadeByProject.org starting June 17. The Made By organizers will also be conducting interviews with a selection of makers from around Memphis.

“We’re excited to have artisans and makers from across our city come together over drinks to kick off the National Week of Making and to begin sharing their professional needs and wants through Made By project activities we’ll have on site,” Heckman said, referring to the City & State gathering. “We hope this event and others like it will foster community among makers and artisans and strengthen our identity as a city that not only excels at moving products, but also at making them.”