September 29, 2022

(Ed. Note: Guest writer Heather Ryerson provided today’s article and photographs.)
The Maker City, run by the Mayor’s Maker Council, has three central goals:
Partnership-working to create collaborative partnerships within the community to build a stronger local economy together.
Programming-business education and networking to foster creative collisions.
Opportunities-help makers be successful by providing access to resources and exposure.
Last weekend, they combined all three of these goals and hosted their 6th annual The Maker City Summit at the newly renovated Downtown Marriott Hotel, Maker Exchange event space. This venue was the perfect spot to host such an event as it just launched The Curio where locals and visitors alike can enjoy the museum type displays with the option to shop, dine, drink, and gather all in one creative space. 
The Mayor’s Maker Council was created in 2016 after Etsy’s Maker Summit declared Knoxville a Maker City.  “Since Knoxville was named The Maker City in 2016, The Maker City Summit has become the largest inspirational, educational event for makers in our area. Makers come together to be inspired, learn, network, and grow.” -The Maker City
This year’s Summit was chaired by photographer Jasmine Newton of Javon Renee Portraits and emceed by Chris McAdoo of Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and podcast, Big Ideas Welcome. KEC along with the City of Knoxville and Launch Tennessee were the presenters of the weekend’s events. Jim Biggs, CEO of KEC was also in attendance and spoke to the crowd.
The Summit kicked off with a swanky soiree on Friday evening where makers and guests enjoyed music from the Brian Clay Trio and food from various member of Real Good Kitchen. Real Good Kitchen catered throughout the weekend. Guests enjoyed appetizers on Friday evening and a light breakfast and hearty lunch on Saturday. Local restaurant, Point B, provided boxed charcuteries and sandwiches on Sunday. 
Saturday morning began the educational component of the Summit. Andy J. Pizza was the keynote speaker, encouraging creatives to make genuine connections with others in order to grow their businesses. My personal takeaway from this illustrator, podcaster and creative pep talker was this. “The biggest connections come from playing a role in something bigger than yourself.” 
Jarius Bush with Good Guy Collective was next up and challenged the group to see the hero in themselves by looking at these 6 areas. The Call to do what you are doing, The Context of where you come from, The Hero in yourself, The Dragon is the obstacles you have to overcome. The Journey of pushing through and learning new things to drive you forward. And finally, the Outcome or the product and service you are putting into the world. 
Amelia Bartlett highlighted budgets. She gave 3 categories that any business person should learn to manage. Time. Resources. Attention. Setting boundaries around these things will help you find more success. Amelia describes herself as a neurodistinct business architect and community weaver here in Knoxville and hosts workshops and more for entrepreneurs. 
For the afternoon sessions, Booth Andrews of The Booth Andrews Company spoke on self-care and the Four Centers of Energy: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. She emphasized how these work together and the importance of keeping them in balance. And the final presentation of the day was by UTK alumnus, Lindsay Brine of Lindsay Brine Design spoke on branding and provided helpful and practical tools to guide attendees in creating a compelling, flexible, and evolving brand. 

Sunday was a series of panel discussions that focused on allyship within the community and the journey of entrepreneurship in the creative space. Multiple breakout sessions occurred throughout the day as well. The topics were issues that face makers and other business persons alike- financial planning, customer experience, smartphone photography, connection, selling online, and others. 
It seemed to me that the one of the most repeated focuses of the conference, underlying almost every speaker’s topic, was relationship. Focusing on building authentic and genuine relationships with others be it a fellow creative, mentor, customer, or investor is always the right thing to do.
This conference was a wealth of information at a very budget friendly price point. Attendees were encouraged, supported, and fed well through the weekend. I was impressed with the speaker line-up, both the guests who came in town to contribute to the weekend and those locals who shared their experience and wisdom. 
If you are a maker or an aspiring maker of any sort, I would highly encourage you to get on the email lists with The Maker City and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for all of the updates, classes and events to get connected and doing more of what you love. And mark your calendars now to check out this outstanding conference when it rolls around next year! Take advantage of the resources available of The Maker City Website such as the free maker directory and keep up with your favorite artists online and by frequenting their shops. Knoxville’s thriving arts and food scene is one that I happily support as often as possible and hope you will too.  
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