A strong entrepreneurial spirit runs through the maker community. Along with artisanal makers and crafters, as well as industrial designers and mechanical engineers, figuring out how to apply your skills to produce an income is a essential reality for many in the community. In this Plan C Live, we are talking with those who are using their skills and energy to create maker businesses that also address the greater social needs.

As the crisis of PPE shortage and supply chains began to recover, makers have converted their know-how into meaningful work and discovered business models for a rapid response to solving civic issues. For some, this has meant shifting pre-existing manufacturing capacity to a new product line, for others strengthening community partnerships into new local supply chains. The economic effects of the pandemic, particularly for small business owners and independent contractors, are as profound as the health risks presented by COVID-19.  New entrepreneurial efforts represent positive changes paths in the vast reordering of economic life in 2020.

Date: November 19th, 2020 @ 4pm PT / 7pm ET


This week on Plan C Live, Dale Dougherty of Make Community, Dorothy Jones-Davis of Nation of Makers, and Sabrina Merlo of Open Source Medical Supplies talk with a group of maker entrepreneurs who have pivoted their PPE production into a business.

Sarah Miller is a founder of Foolproof Fabricators based in Boston, MA which creates custom installed pandemic safety solutions for restaurants and other businesses. An independent product designer and industrial fabricator, she works out of (and is a former President of) Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA, where she reverse engineered and lead the development of gown production for frontline workers. Read more about Sarah’s and Artisan Asylum’s civic response work here.

Kristen Ahern is a costume designer and founder of Conscious Costume who focuses on environmentally friendly design and is a fierce advocate for the ethical production of clothing, a dreamer, and a professional squeaky wheel. In response to an unemployed arts community and growing demand for supplemental PPE, she and other members of Chicago’s performing arts community co-founded Artist Resource Mobilization which formed with the goals of bringing high quality masks made with a rigorous professional process that emphasizes the quality of materials and supporting local artists, workers, and businesses.

Justin Handsman has spent most of his career in the financial services industry, including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and has also pursued entrepreneurial initiatives across a number of other industries. He has led initiatives focused on complex data modeling, big data analytics, and real-time streaming analytics.  He has also founded several companies in the technology and health spaces. As a social entrepreneur, Justin currently leads a non-profit called the Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group.  JCRMRG is a volunteer group that leverages scalable manufacturing technologies to help solve humanitarian issues.  He is also the CEO of RADIP Group, a manufacturing, prototyping, and product design business and a passionate, and long-time volunteer for FIRST Robotics.

Zoe Grant is the Sale Director of Pyxis Shields based in Lawrence, MA. Pyxis designs and manufactures medical-grade face shields that offer a high level of protection that are disposable, commercially recyclable, compostable and suitable for a variety of applications.

Connor Weller is a 22 year old college student, co-founder of MakerForce.org, and owner of Baseline Design. Working with medical professionals, he developed an open source silicone mask with the efficacy of an N95 but is simple enough that anyone can make one. He lives in Vancouver, WA.

For more on how makers like these are fueling economic recovery, check out our discussion with Victor Hwang of Right to Start, Lee Wellington of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, and Illana Preuss of Recast City LLC: Plan C Live: Economic Recovery From The Bottom Up.