Conversation: Make Works
Founder Fi Scott began Make Works whilst studying product design at Glasgow School of Art.
Frustrated by the difficulty in finding local suppliers for her work, she began a project to map Scotland’s manufacturing base – from industrial estates on the outskirts of the Central belt to far-flung factories in the Highlands - and then her project became a business.
Counterpoint: In your own words, what is the Make Works mission?
Fi Scott: So, we really want to make local, micro manufacturing as accessible as possible in Scotland. Part of that is getting people to know that all these small factories exist - and part of it is in inspiring people about why they would want to support that kind of making, or build relationships into the manufacturing industry - when it can feel so intimidating. I feel like we are getting it right when I see new designers going and working with local fabricators, rather than getting their work shipped back from on the other side of the world.
What has Make Works done to challenge negative perceptions of local manufacturing – and have attitudes improved?
I think we hit it a lot more at the beginning, because it wasn’t such a well understood ideology or movement a few years ago. Now, it is much easier, because even many of the big brands are interested in pushing the ideas of products that are small, and locally-made. You see the word ‘crafted’ or ‘made’ on nearly every second shop window now! Some of that is faux-locally made for marketing purposes - but the awareness and more of a demand to find local manufacturers has definitely grown.
What feedback have you had from factories that’ve been listed on Make Works - and what kind of feedback have you had from creatives?
It’s a bit of both. Creatives find it useful I think, and more than anything they use it for browsing and getting inspired that these people and factories are all still there - so it can inspire new projects. The fabricators appreciate the film, photography and web presence - but I love it the most when they tell me about new projects they have had in - supporting that is one of our aims.
What’s next for Make Works?
We have a few goals this year. The first, is that we need to get through our waiting list of factories wanting to be listed on the site. There are so many incredible fabricators that we have found, and it’s a case of going to visit each and every one! We also have a bunch of new things to add to the site, like reviewing factories, and improving things like the search functionality.
The other big thing is making sure that the business model is self-sustaining. The project funding will run out at the end of this year, so we are about to begin testing revenue streams. I am really determined that we will do that in a way that means keeping the platform free to access, and free to be listed on - so we are looking at other streams around that to support it. We are also a non-profit, which is slightly less heard of in the tech-startup world.