Whether you call them makers, crafters, artisans, designers or micro manufacturers, they have made Portland the epicenter of the “small batch, handcrafted” movement. These makers have moved far beyond craft markets and street fairs, they are exporting their products to a global marketplace. Organizations such as The Portland Made Collective are providing the support to take these entrepreneurs to the next level.
The Portland Made Collective is a group of members of Portland-based designers, goods retailers and manufacturers. It is also a company: They connect consumers to local goods, designers to the production and manufacturing process, and retailers to new local partners and customers. But before the makers join Portland Made, they need a place to manufacture their products. In the past makers toiled by themselves in their garages, or basements, now there are co-op spaces, which provide the space, equipment and support to launch their product.
Co-op maker spacers are a hub for collaboration where individuals and organizations make and learn. They share tools, knowledge and experience. Portland’s best known maker space is ADX. It is a 14,000-square foot makerspace, learning center, and custom fabrication shop. “ADX allows anyone to bring their idea to life,” says Kelley Roy, founder and owner of ADX and Portland Made. Besides ADX, there are these co-op spaces, Shop People, Watershed and Fosters Row, and more are opening.
We have profiled four lifestyle equipment makers who demonstrate how America continues to have a strong design and manufacturing sector, even if it is on a small scale. James Nichols of Metrofiets Cargo Bikes takes pride in the fact he is creating a product made in America. “I consider myself a patriot and I am proud of creating a product that brings jobs to my community…” Wilson Zehr of Yana Surf knows quality is important, “We are building the best quality, sustainable balsa wood surfboards available –” They may have started as one-person operations, but they are growing, adding new jobs, and money to the local economy. “When I first started, it took me a couple weeks to create a bag,” he said. “Now, I have four employees and we can create several bags a day,” says Dave Stoops of Black Star Bags. And Matt Lemman of Jones Golf Bags believes that tradition and simplicity make a better golf bag.
What all of these markers and the organizations in Portland that support them believe is that they have good ideas, they build with great quality and design products that consumers want to buy. It is true many of the products that these makers create are more expensive, they are well worth it. Buying products from local makers, not only supports these local businesses and their employees, it supports and builds the local economy.
Read there maker profiles: