Phillip and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary with a mini road trip.
I try not too get mushy here often.
But this seems like a fitting occasion to mention I am so crazy about this super smart, sweet, handsome guy. Phillip is my favorite person to be with on a road trip – or just hanging out at the house – and he makes me laugh harder than anyone.
“If you thought the internet was big, this is going to be bigger.”
–Mark Hatch, TechShop CEO on the Maker Movement
Brit + Co’s Re:Make event in San Francisco was all about the Maker Movement with a conference on Day 1 and community festival on Day 2.
Certain themes recurred throughout the day – storytelling, craftsmanship, being true to your style, creativity. I got to discuss it all over a lunch with speakers and other Brit + Co contributors, definitely a highlight!
Who is a maker?
“The maker movement is the next revolution in society. Welcome to the Revolution.”
–Mark Hatch, super quotable speaker
A maker is simply someone who enjoys making stuff, whether it’s food or furniture, rugs or robots, strawberry cocktails or Storm Trooper costumes. Yep. In fact, ”Most Star Wars fans are makers,” according to Mashable Editor and How Star Wars Conquered the Universe author Chris Taylor. (We came to the same conclusion about the Comicon community.)
Makers may use traditional techniques (hand embroidery) or modern tech (3D printing) or some combination (the fan-built, Arduino-controlled R2D2, who accompanied Chris during his talk).
More and more people are are choosing the DIY route, and it’s starting to affect both culture and commerce. This is the Maker Movement.
Some call it a Revolution.
Brit + Co put together a report on the Maker Movement. Their survey found that 8 out of 10 adults fit their definition of maker. During her opening keynote, Founder Brit Morin said that, while the Movement “skews female,” women don’t always see themselves as part of it. Instead, they think of it as something “male and techie.”
Women also tend to devalue their own skills and creativity. I see this at my CraftHack group all the time. Women will be working on these awesome projects but a lot of times just shrug them off.
I believe that everyone is creative. But, as adults (especially as women), we’re often afraid to express ourselves. Making something – however imperfect – helps us tap into the fearless self-expression we had as children. Practicing creativity opens the door to more creativity.
Makers Gonna (Re)Make
There were plenty of opportunities to be creative and make stuff at Re:Make. As soon as you walked in, you could take part in a giant collaborative paint-by-number (with paint from sponsor Lowe’s, of course!). We took Make Breaks for crafting cork vases and decorating cupcakes. The second day there were DIY stations scattered throughout the festival.
More conferences should include DIY projects! They’re great icebreakers and a great rest from information overload.
What made the Maker Movement happen now?
1. New ways to learn
Brit also noted that makers tend to be early adopters of technology. However, “only 17% are using tech for making.” Instead, they’re using it to learn how to make things by hand, find inspiration, share ideas, watch tutorials. “The Maker Movement is not just tech, it’s about traditional arts and crafts resurrecting in society.”
Mark Hatch observed that “we live in an era where you can pick up the skills to do almost anything in 90 days.”
The Michaels spokesperson echoed this later in the day. Their customers used to have deep knowledge of one craft. Now they usually have a broader range of skills, because it’s so much easier to learn via online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. Information has become more accessible.
2. Conscientious consumers
“The maker movement is booming and retailers don’t even know it.”
–Bradford Shellhammer, Fab.com Founder and BackCountry.com CDO
As more consumers become makers, more people have started to care about how products are made and who made them. Makers are on both sides of the supply and demand equation, selling items they’ve made and purchasing artisan goods from others.
Jaime Derringer, Founder and Editor of Design Milk, noted, “The economy played a role in where we are. People started making things and taught themselves to run businesses.” Maybe they had more time because of a layoff. Maybe they wanted to save money and/or earn a little extra income.
In addition, the recession made us think a little harder about what we were buying and why. Did we really need mass quantities of cheap, disposable goods? Or could we get by with fewer, higher quality things made in more sustainable ways?
“Groupon trained consumers to look for discounts. That era is ending. Now there are more conscientious consumers.” AHAlife CEO Shauna Mei explained. “People care about stories, heritage, and who made the product.”
Steven Heintz, CTO of Quirky agreed. ”People are bored with mass-produced products. They’re looking for something unique.”
Shake It Up
If all that info makes you feel like you could use a stiff drink, you’ll understand why the conference wrapped up with a cocktail party.
It was the kind of day with more awesomeness than your brain can contain and no way to chat with everyone you’d like to. I wish I could have a few Groundhog-Day-style do-overs, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
I was honored to be a part of Re:Make and so appreciate Brit + Co and Lowe’s bringing me out!
In the words of the Urbio spokesperson (whose name I didn’t catch):
“If you’re passionate about something, you have more tools now than ever to make it a reality. Go out and make something!”
The Sonoran Desert isn’t known for mosquitoes, but after an unusually wet September, they’re everywhere. It seems like I get new bites every time I leave the house – or don’t.
I finally resorted to pulling the bug repellent (ick) out of the cabinet, but that didn’t even work. Maybe it’s old. I’d like to find a natural (or at least less chemical-y) solution that works.
My great grandmother used to swear by Avon’s Skin-So-Soft for pretty much everything, including keeping mosquitoes away during humid Indiana summers. I also found an article with some interesting DIY natural repellent ideas, like putting baby oil or cider vinegar on your skin.
Have you tried any of these or found something else that works for you?
Re:Make is Brit + Co’s two-day maker event held a couple times a year. Day 1 is an invitation-only conference with awesome speakers and demos by startups. Day 2 is a festival open to the public with tons of handmade products and DIY project stations.
I was able to attend September’s Re:Make in San Francisco, largely due to a Brit + Co contributor travel stipend from Lowe’s (also a conference sponsor).
Even though the festival day happened after the conference day, I’m going to start on Day 2 at the festival.
The Living Room of the Future
With all the fabulous festival happenings, you know what I did first? Hunt for an outlet to charge my almost-dead phone. I figured my best bet would be the The Living Room of the Future. (Feel free to read that in a deep, echoing voice like “The Living Room-oom-oom! of the Future-uture-uture!”)
The Living Room of the Future was a whole room constructed just for the weekend to demonstrate Lowe’s IRIS line of smart home products. It had sturdy walls (holding artwork and a pretty massive monitor), a full set of furniture, a door, and (thankfully!) working outlets.
One of the Lowe’s reps moved a plug down to make room for my charger. Turns out it wasn’t just any plug, it was a smart plug. (Did you know plugs could be smart?!) It’s basically the updated version of those timers you plug your lights into when you go out of town. Except it you can control it from your phone. The only “installation” required is plugging it in to an outlet. That piqued my interest, because we rent our place, so we can’t get too crazy in the home improvement department.
Since I was hanging out waiting for my phone anyway, I asked what else they had that would work in a rental. Turns out most of their stuff would. There are sensors that can text you if there’s motion in your house or just if someone opens the door. (Of course, I had travel on the brain, but it’d be nice if you’re at work all day too.)
I didn’t notice it when I walked in, but the door to The Living Room of the Future (Door to the Future?!) had one of those cool keypad doorknobs. The house where I Airbnb’ed in July had one too. So. handy. Think about not having to coordinate a key handoff for houseguests/pet sitters/a friend stopping by while you’re stuck in traffic/etc.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Lowe’s bought my plane ticket. But I did not expect to get this excited about a smart home system. I’m really not into tech for the sake of tech, but if it makes my life better, I’m in. And their stuff turned out to be pretty neat.
Walking through Pinterest boards
Once I got my phone charged up, I needed a recharge too. I headed over to get some handpoured goodness from the Philz Coffee crew, who had become my BFFs during the conference.
From there, the hall opened up. There was a booth with Luna Bar samples in apothecary jars (Because this was Re:Make. And even the granola bars needed to be cute.), a mini version Brit + Co’s community maker space MakeShop with Brit Kits and 3D printers, a Michael’s “Raw Bar” with projects inspired by the same raw-look trend as our cork vase Make Break the day before, and handmade cornhole games in progress (Can someone explain to me why cornhole is suddenly everywhere?)
There were also lots of photo booth backdrops (also very Brit + Co) for selfies. I snapped a quick one in front of a Lowe’s backdrop, and then someone asked me a question, and I got totally sidetracked and forgot to take a better one.
Sprinkled throughout the hall were DIY stations where you could do things like paint your own tote, make a Lego house, or decorate a Lowe’s paint cans to hold your purchases.
100 vendors were there with handmade and artisan products – messenger bags, ceramics, jewelry, cards, soaps. I basically wanted to buy everything. Combined with all the DIYing going on, it really kind of felt like my Pinterest boards had come to life. Seriously. You can check out the merch in the B+C Shop.
An impressive 4,000 people made their way to the festival by the end of the day. It was overwhelming but so amazing!
Melissa of Stirrup Queens had a fabulous idea to help people get back to blogging called Microblog Mondays. Basically, you post something to your own site/blog that you’d normally just post to social media. It can be short and sweet – the key is to get something posted and not overthink it. (Read more and join up on her site.)
Even though I do blog regularly, this made me think about all the content that ends up scattered across my social sites and never ends up here. I’m going to experiment with using Mondays for this type of quick reads, starting today with a roundup of masks that otherwise would’ve just lived on my Pinterest.
Mask decoration inspiration
At CraftHack next Monday (10/13), we’ll be decorating Halloween masks courtesy of Brit + Co and VELCRO. That sent me looking for mask decorating ideas. Here are some I found.