Knoxville makers fuel creative passions at annual Maker City Summit
Some of the topics discussed this year at The Maker City Summit included pricing your products, how to teach a workshop, visual storytelling, preparing for markets, selling wholesale, and financing for small businesses.
Whether you make clay mugs, oil paintings, leather bags, sourdough bread, or hand-drawn stationery, Knoxville is happy to have you. Officially designated as The Maker City, Knoxville is home to makers of all kinds, and works to offer them resources needed to thrive.
One of those resources is a weekend of learning, networking, and creating at the annual Maker City Summit. This three-day summit just wrapped up its eighth iteration earlier this month, hosted at the Maker Exchange in the Downtown Marriott Hotel for the second year in a row.
“This year was incredible,” said Courtney Hendricks, Director of Maker Initiatives at The Maker City, the group that puts on the summit each year. “We put out a survey afterward for attendees to take and overall the responses have been very positive. This year we had the highest net promoter score that we’ve ever had.”
Hendricks said The Maker City and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center take feedback seriously every year to make sure they can best cater to Knoxville’s diverse maker scene. With so many makers in so many fields, they work to create panels and bring in speakers that can hit several niches in the maker world. But it can be hard to tell if one speaker or session stood out over the others.
“Depending on what the individual maker is needing, some chosen speakers may resonate with them even more than others,” said Hendricks. “We work to choose programming that will benefit as broad of a maker audience as possible.”
Some of the topics discussed this year at The Maker City Summit included pricing your products, how to teach a workshop, visual storytelling, preparing for markets, selling wholesale, and financing for small businesses. Hendricks said previous feedback showed attendees wanted more options and breakout sessions, so more were added this year.
Two new additions to this year’s summit were a dedicated Zen space provided by Ty’s Eye in collaboration with Sandra Wairimu and a networking Reiki MT Lounge provided by Ashley Garner of Nest.
“The Zen space was curated so that whenever people needed a moment to get away from the busyness of the event and just have a mindful moment, they could go to this really lovely quiet space. But then we also had a really wonderful lounge that was available that was more of a social gathering location,” said Hendricks. “Having that lounge space and that Zen space were important additions to make attendees feel comfortable and be able to take in even more information and more networking.”
Another neat feature at this year’s summit was a letterpress station from Fainting Goat Press, where attendees could press their own provided notebooks to personalize the experience.
Hendricks said tweaks, changes, and additions like these features are important to keep the event exciting and fresh, especially for people who attend for multiple years.
“There’s such a huge creative community here,” she said. “Whether they’re looking for education or community or inspiration, being able to put together an event that brings all of those different areas together makes a big difference in a lot of people’s lives and in their professional journeys.”
The Maker City Summit is a big undertaking each year, but there’s one big reason why it keeps coming back: it’s a chance to help makers learn, grow, and thrive.
“One of the survey responses said that the attendee was so inspired and felt empowered after participating in the event activities that they went home and wrote a resignation letter for their full-time job to begin making full-time,” said Hendricks. “Giving people the network and the confidence that they need to do what they love is exactly why we keep doing it.”
The Maker City Summit is held in September each year. Follow The Maker City on social media to keep up with other events they host throughout the year.