ABOUT THE MADE BY PROJECT

Made By is a first-of-its-kind initiative to deeply understand the lives of makers, artisans, and micro-manufacturers in the city of Memphis and Shelby County and to assess their economic impact. The end result of the project is an economic development plan that fosters a vibrant, thriving, and inclusive community of makers, artisans, and micro-manufacturers across the region. We refer to these individuals as “makers” and define them as individuals using skill or craft to create a physical good at small scale to sell. 

We sought to understand makers across a variety of factors: age, aspirations, gender, time spent making, education, time in business, craft type, and neighborhood. We also focused on populations typically under-represented by efforts in this space: minorities and older makers. The population of Shelby County is 42% white and 54% African American, as such we would expect sizable participation in maker businesses by African Americans. We also know from our research that many retirement age Americans are starting maker businesses as second careers or possess master-level skills they can teach others. These factors drove our interest in understanding the older maker demographic. 

The city of Memphis struggles with a 26% poverty rate. Supporting entrepreneurship as it relates to poverty reduction is a specific passion of both Little Bird Innovation and the Made By project’s implementation partner, EPIcenter. We envision the Made By project as one way of fostering place-based businesses that contribute economically and culturally to our neighborhoods.

OUR PROCESS & APPROACH

Little Bird Innovation uses a human-centered, collaborative and co-creative process on all projects. This approach applies not just to our research, but also to our work in translating learnings from research into actionable strategies, solutions and plans. 

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In seeking to understand large, complex issues we build a body of knowledge and understanding through learning from the experiences and stories of real people living and working within the context of the group for whom we are designing solutions. In the case of Made By, this group is makers. We invested more than 270 man hours learning from makers through in-depth qualitative interviews, paired with a large scale, quantitatively-oriented survey. We used this hybrid-approach to marry stories with statistics to strengthen the case for supporting economic development driven by makers and micro-manufacturers. This intensive approach lends to being an investment in Memphis' creative community and its' potential. 

Makers and stakeholders working in adjacent industries collaborated on all key activities and will continue to do so as we develop possible solutions for unmet needs and the barriers that makers face. This is the meaning of human-centered, collaborative design work—involving makers and stakeholders at every step of the way to ensure that what is created truly meets their needs.

SNATSHOT OF WHAT'S MADE IN MEMPHIS

HARDWARE & TECHNOLOGY Machined & fabricated components  Predictive analytic devices for             fleet vehicles 3D-printed dental prosthetics Medical device & auto industry parts 

HARDWARE & TECHNOLOGY

Machined & fabricated components 

Predictive analytic devices for             fleet vehicles

3D-printed dental prosthetics

Medical device & auto industry parts 

APPAREL & ACCESSORIES Hand-crafted jewelry Handbags, clutches, dresses,             coats & scarves Men's neckties & bowties Pet accessories 

APPAREL & ACCESSORIES

Hand-crafted jewelry

Handbags, clutches, dresses,             coats & scarves

Men's neckties & bowties

Pet accessories 

FURNITURE & HOME GOODS Lip balms, soap & beard oil   Hand-lettered prints, greeting cards, calendars & coloring books Glass sculptures, ceramic vases & candles Custom wood tables & metal seating

FURNITURE & HOME GOODS

Lip balms, soap & beard oil  

Hand-lettered prints, greeting cards, calendars & coloring books

Glass sculptures, ceramic vases & candles

Custom wood tables & metal seating

PACKAGED FOOD & BEVERAGE Baked cakes, breads, rolls & pastries Beer & distilled spirits Cured meats & charcuterie Probiotic beverages & kombucha Fine chocolates, candies & caramels 

PACKAGED FOOD & BEVERAGE

Baked cakes, breads, rolls & pastries

Beer & distilled spirits

Cured meats & charcuterie

Probiotic beverages & kombucha

Fine chocolates, candies & caramels 

 

"The MadeBy project seeks to engage the creative class, and rather than us saying, ‘this is what we think you need to do to be successful,’ it will identify things like what the gaps are in the current environment.”

- Leslie Lynn Smith, EPIcenter Memphis


ADVISORY BOARD

Made By is guided by an Advisory Board comprised of a diverse set of stakeholders across a variety of related fields. The board meets regularly to review progress to-date, provide additional knowledge and perspective and prioritize key learnings as we move forward into solution development.  Advisory Board members are essential partners in shaping and leading new programs and offerings.

Tootsie BellSilversmith and Jewelry
Sarah BlackburnArtsMemphis
Joy BowenPinnacle Bank
Carrie Brooks, Memphis College of Art
Pat BrownT. Clifton Gallery
Sarah Brubaker, Ekata Designs
Funlola Coker, Funlola’s Workshop
Pat ChaffeeTN Craft-SW

Russ FlemingFedEx Services
Maria FuhrmannCity of Memphis
Nathan GarrettTCAT Memphis
Terry LynnTwin
Brit McDanielsPaper and Clay
Cynthia NorwoodCommunities Unlimited
Michael O’RourkeEPIcenter

Kong Wee PangTaroPop
Abby PhillipsMemphis Fashion Week
Phillip RixPhillip Ashley Chocolates
Gene Saxon, Loeb Partners
Tonya TateModern Handmade Memphis
Rory ThomasTN Small Business
Lisa Toro, City & State

ABOUT THE PARTNERS

Little Bird Innovation is a Memphis-based research, strategy and design firm focused on projects that drive economic development, social impact and civic innovation. We collaborate with others to tackle challenges that inspire us. From developing plans to support food entrepreneurship amongst immigrants and refugees to helping the Memphis public library system redefine its value and role in the lives of its residents, we bring a people-centered approach to solving complex problems.  More information at Little Bird Innovation.

Little Bird Innovation is a Memphis-based research, strategy and design firm focused on projects that drive economic development, social impact and civic innovation. We collaborate with others to tackle challenges that inspire us. From developing plans to support food entrepreneurship amongst immigrants and refugees to helping the Memphis public library system redefine its value and role in the lives of its residents, we bring a people-centered approach to solving complex problems. 

More information at Little Bird Innovation.

The Entrepreneurship-Powered Innovation Center (EPIcenter) is a collaborative and community-wide strategic initiative that is helping entrepreneurs conceive, launch and scale businesses in the Memphis region. EPIcenter serves as a central point of contact for the region’s ecosystem and coordinates resources from various organizations in the community such as accelerators, incubators, mentors, investors, networking programs, and technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs. For more information at EPIcenter Memphis.

The Entrepreneurship-Powered Innovation Center (EPIcenter) is a collaborative and community-wide strategic initiative that is helping entrepreneurs conceive, launch and scale businesses in the Memphis region. EPIcenter serves as a central point of contact for the region’s ecosystem and coordinates resources from various organizations in the community such as accelerators, incubators, mentors, investors, networking programs, and technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs.

For more information at EPIcenter Memphis.