Back again to the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire , we have Melissa Swiatek-Odien, from DIY BFLO, who was nice enough to answer some questions regarding her business and provide advice for future makers. Don’t miss her presentation at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, where she will discuss easy steps one can take to reduce their impact on the environment.
- Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?
I was inclined toward art and creative hobbies since early childhood and eventually went on to receive a B.A in Art from Buffalo State. Even so, I did not yet recognize myself as a maker at that point. That moment came while in my second semester at grad school. I had gone to U.B. to study art history in an attempt to find a “practical” career application for my love of art and creative things. The volumes of reading and writing that my classes required left little time for anything else and as a result, I stopped making art. At the same time, I was reading and writing papers about other people who created art, was surrounded by art on campus and was discussing art in my seminars. I felt a frustration building inside of me until I finally came to the realization that I need to make art in addition to studying it or whatever else I found myself doing in the future; making art and being creative through making needed to be a part of my life somehow. Starting then, I gave myself permission to pursue my creative projects and began making an effort to give myself time for them. So much evolved from that realization, including DIY BFLO.
- What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?
Having proper tools and materials on hand. Nothing is so halting to a creative rush as not having the tools or materials you need to get your vision started. If you have a specific project in mind be sure that you have at least the proper items that you need to get started. At the same time, don’t be afraid to start a project just because you don’t have every possible thing that you could ever need. Often times you won’t realize that you need a supply item until you’ve started working.
- Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?
Yes, I will be selling reusable shopping totes made from vintage pillowcases as well as reusable produce bags. I do not have any patents in place on my designs. I encourage people to make their own items if they are so inclined and will be promoting my retail location (located at 980 Northampton) as an option for purchasing reclaimed crafting and creative supplies.
- What has been your greatest success in business?
DIY BFLO has existed as a business for only one and a half years. I feel that my greatest success has been the connections that I’ve made with members of the small business, neighborhood improvement and creative communities and the level of brand awareness that I’ve been able to build in such a short amount of time.
- What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?
It’s o.k. to learn as you go. Experiment, have fun and learn by doing. Making mistakes and solving problems does not mean that you are bad at what you do; it means that you are honing your craft! Also, don’t be afraid to ask experienced makers for advice.