How did you get into your profession?
I graduated from college in 2009, with a degree in marketing and business with a minor in economics. Due to the economic downturn, I wasn’t receiving great job opportunities and I worked some odd jobs for a while, including an office role. I had so much energy from sitting at a desk and wanted to do something with my hands.
In Kansas City, there are a ton of old boarded-up buildings. My friend and I decided to rehab a beautiful 100-year-old brick building in exchange for rent equity with the owner. Through that project, I learned a ton about construction, wood-working, metal-working, plumbing, design, etc. It was a great opportunity to create a makerspace in mid-town Kansas City. So we bought our own building and using the skills we had learned to create the Maker Village.
Tell us about Maker Village
The Maker Village is a community shop where we offer memberships for experienced builders – serious hobbyists or small-business owners. We also have classes for hobbyists, families, and anyone interested in learning a new skill. There are classes for wood-working, metal-working, joinery, welding, etc. ranging from introductory classes where you learn basic skills to interdisciplinary classes.
I also work at the Johnson County Library Makerspace and I’m lucky enough that I get to support the Maker Village in my spare time. The library makerspace has a lot of digital fabrication equipment, which is exciting to grow my skills in 3D printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, CNC, digital media production and more. I’m also a Tool Tech on a PBS show called Make 48 which encourages teams to create an idea for a product within a 48-hour timeline.
What have been your career highlights?
If you’d told me back when we were building Maker Village that it would ultimately be a place that fosters growth and development of at-risk youth, I wouldn’t have believed it.
“If you’d told me back when we were building Maker Village that it would ultimately be a place that fosters growth and development of at-risk youth, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
One of our members is a non-profit called Build Trybe. It’s a workforce development program for kids who are aging out of the foster system. They come into the makerspace to learn some basic skills, orient themselves in a shop, learn how to safely use the equipment, etc. This helps bolster their resumes with the intent to get them into a bridge or apprentice program where they can fully learn a trade. By creating a positive and welcoming environment we’ve been able to support organizations like Build Trybe that can potentially give kids the skills they need to get a job, get an apartment and put food on the table.
Why Are You #MakerProud?
I’m proud to be a maker because so much of our world is built by humans and changed by humans. So to me, it’s critical to understand how the things that we make contribute to a better world. For example, making sure that the materials we use are sustainable. And then helping teach others so that instead of buying a product that might not have been ethically made… now that individual can create their own product instead. I love it when you can see that person getting inspired and wanting to share their experiences with others in turn.
Find Nick on Instagram at @makervillagekc.