Family Artwork with our featured makers, The Sacilowski Family

SFAMFrom painting and drawing to photography and nearly everything in between, the Sacilowski family can do it all. Creativity runs in their blood and they are ready to show it off at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th. The Faire is proud to have them back year after year and could not hesitate to ask them about their creative family, which they were kind enough to do.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

We are the Sacilowski Family: Mike & Kathy (Dad & Mom), Trevor, Noah, Hannah, and Mary (4 children).  We are a homeschooling family who loves creating art.  We incorporate art into our school day for many different subjects.  We are also independent members of 4H and show our artwork at the Erie County Fair.  We create quite a bit of artwork in all kinds of mediums and styles.  We draw, paint, sculpt, craft, make Pisanki (Traditional Polish Egg Writing), paint rocks, build Lego’s, build forts, make paper models, and try new kinds of art or crafts all the time.  My husband and I are very artistic and have passed this on to all our four children.  I went to college for art but never finished because we started a family.  Now they are quickly growing and moving on.  Our oldest son (22) finished homeschool and college and has a degree in Electrical Engineering from UB, and then he found a good job with it in KY.  Our second son (20) finished homeschool and is in college now at UB working on his Electrical Engineering degree and does landscaping and lawn/yard work to pay for his college.  The girls (17 and 13) are still homeschooled and we do quite a bit of artwork at home.  The girls also have their own dog walking and pet sitting business and they both show dogs in the Erie County Fair through 4H.  When the kids were all younger, they did lots of art but I was too busy (teaching and taking care of them).  Now, I’m able to do more artwork alongside them and it’s been wonderful for all of us!

2. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

I’m not sure about an inventor or maker but when I create a new piece of artwork, I usually have an idea of what I want to do and then I figure out how to make it happen by doing some research on my subject either online or through the library.  I think about what supplies I’ll need and their cost and what will work well to produce the best results.  I’ll get books from the library for learning about a new type of art or to study different artists or mediums.  Looking at pictures also helps in visualizing the subject and/or background.  Then I see what I have on hand and what I need to purchase.  Sometimes I “make do” with what we have instead of purchasing and we see new results or creative ways that are sometimes even better than expected.  I get lots of ideas from what other people create too.

3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

We, as a family, don’t have a business to sell our artwork; we usually give it as gifts.  But, we have sold some artwork over the years and even been commissioned to do certain pieces for individuals, friends, family, etc.  My mother is a great salesperson and spokesperson for our art as she shows and tells all her friends.  She has gotten us a few commissions for her grandchildren’s artwork.  We have also been asked to sell certain pieces that people have seen at the Erie County Fair and even a couple pieces that we had shown at the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire.

4. What has been your greatest success in business?

Our “business” is really just doing our artwork for pleasure or for family gifts or as part of our homeschool.  It’s a great hobby and gives us joy to create art for ourselves and for others.  I find it very relaxing and fun.  I also enjoy learning new styles and working with different mediums which happens because I homeschool and I want to expose my children to a variety of art.  I will research and learn something new so that I can show my children how to do it.  They also have done their own research and learned things that I don’t even know how to do (ie. paper models).  I have also taught some art classes (on Pointillism and on Pisanki) within our homeschool group over the years and this year I also taught Pisanki to a 4H group.

5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

I’m sorry but I wouldn’t know what to advise; this is out of my league!  

But I can tell you that homeschooling has been a blessing to me and my children by giving us a chance to use our imagination and to be creative in so many ways.  I think we were able to become inventors and makers by having the free time to pursue our interests because of homeschooling.  Whether they drew sports logos for every team in every sport or made paper models of the Vatican or painted superheroes on canvas or created Pisanki (Traditional Polish Egg Writing) or painted life-like tigers and dragons on rocks or made endless clay figures of penguins and owls or built a fort/shed in the backyard using their own money or designed and built a huge multi-room lego house for superheroes or even inventing a way to get dressed without having to get out of bed or so many other things, they learned how to dream and imagine and create and invent and make.  They are all creative in different ways but are all the same in being able to use their imaginations and being able to solve problems to be able to make or invent what they dream up.  And that is awesome!

Don’t miss the Sacilowski Family at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, where you can check out their artwork!

Janet of All Trades with featured maker, Janet Pelczynski

janetofalltradesHave you ever wondered what to do with old junk you don’t think is useful? Well, Janet Pelczynski of Janet of All Trades is coming to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th to show us how we can recycle those old pieces into jewelry. She was kind enough to answer some questions about herself, her product, and provide insight for future makers.

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? I started creating when I was a child. Making my own Halloween costumes, crafting puppets and puppet shows, writing a neighborhood newspaper and building my own Christmas tree. I have always had the desire to figure out how to create something out of unrelated or unusual parts and pieces. The right and left of my brain working together in some strange way, it’s a constant struggle to solve a problem.
  2. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? What you create means something to you and only you. Don’t create to please others or to make money… it’s a personal mission.
  3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? Yes, I sell recycled jewelry made from old keys and recycled items. I don’t have any patents, but I did not copy another product. I bought some keys at an Estate sale since they looked interesting and thought they need to be saved since keys are slowing becoming extinct. They are beautiful and interesting, so why not enjoy them as jewelry. I can only wear so much, so I decided to start selling jewelry.
  4. What has been your greatest success in business? Greatest success, well that people actually like what I create. It’s difficult to put your idea out in the world for others to critique, since it is your personal mission. I love when customers stop by my shows wearing my jewelry! I think it is the ultimate compliment and that reassures me that yes, what I make is appreciated and loved.
  5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? Be true to your invention. Let it grow and change, but do not veer from the reason you are inventing… It might take a lifetime for your idea to truly develop, but keep creating, questioning, growing and most of all believe in what you are creating. 

You can see more of Janet of All Trades on her Facebook, Etsy Shop, and Blog. And don’t forget to stop by and see Janet at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th.

The Errant Stitch with featured maker, Nicole Majewski

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Returning maker, Nicole Majewski, from The Errant Stitch is back again this year to showcase cassette-cycle, a comprehensive exhibit devoted to recycling cassette tapes. Nicole’s display shows cassettes being made into various items and will discuss different methods used to make them. She was kind enough to answer some questions about how she got started as a maker, her products, and provided advice for future makers.

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I make purses and home decorations made from cassette tapes and other recycled materials.  Most of my work uses a variety of techniques to turn cassette tapes into all sorts of unique and unexpected items.   I got my start in making as a child.  My father was a lifelong woodworker and model train craftsman.  He was always at his workbench making something and I would watch him turn a drawing into a highly detailed model.  I watched his processes and I was hooked.  I did various craft projects of my own and got into sewing after college because the kind of purses I wanted just weren’t made.  That ended up extending to home decorations and finally a business making them for others.

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

The first thing a new inventor/maker should consider is that they have the drive to learn their craft, practice it and follow it all the way through to completion. Anyone can start a project, but it takes an open mind and drive and dedication to put in the work to make that project a reality.  Don’t be afraid to make it happen. Also, be sure your materials are budget-friendly so you can keep making more!

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

Yes I do sell my products.  I sell them on errantstitch.com. I sell fabric printed cassette tape purses and wallets, cassette tape pen holders and a line of jewelry made from various recycled objects. I’m always adding new purses and coming up with new ideas…soon I will be selling cassette tape lamps and jewelry as well.

  1.  What has been your greatest success in business?

My greatest success in business has been selling over 1,000 purses all over the world and domestically.  My other greatest success is getting a personal compliment on my cassette purses from Jon Bon Jovi!  A customer of mine was a magazine reporter and had ordered a purse of Bon Jovi’s “New Jersey” album.  She brought it with her to an interview she did with him and much of the interview turned out to be a discussion on how cool and interesting he thought my bag was!  He even signed the bag too.

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Be very patient in developing your projects and be prepared for setbacks.  They happen and it takes a lot of time to really master your craft.  Know that every project won’t work out, and when that does happen try to figure out why so you can know what to avoid when you try again.  There is never such a thing as failure because every setback has its teaching moments.

Don’t forget to check out more of The Errant Stitch on their FacebookInstagram, and Etsy page. And try your hand at your own cassette project with step-by-step instructions from Nicole Majewski at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th.

Zandra Beauty with featured maker, Zandra Cunningham

zandraTeenage entrepreneur, Zandra Cunningham, of Zandra Beauty is a prime example of how hearing the simple word “no” can drive you to success! She took this, along with her passion of lip balm, at full speed and hasn’t looked back since. Come visit Zandra at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th where you can dive into Zandra’s world of beauty and success. She was nice enough to answer some questions about herself as a maker, her product, and advice for future makers.

  1.    Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I am Zandra, I started my maker journey at 9 years old. I was obsessed with lip gloss and lip balm and my dad’s refusal to buy me more forced me to experiment with making my own. I literally spent all my free time trying to make lip balm. Eventually, my mom started to help me and we ordered a lip balm kit off the internet. After making a few successful batches I started sharing them and later realized I could make money selling the lip balm when a woman gave me a $1 for hers. Once I turned my hobby into a full functioning business I enrolled in several formulation classes to learn how to make other skin care products. I joined indie maker groups, traveled to conferences and seminars until I felt ready to launch a full natural skin care line. Which today is called Zandra.

  1.    What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

Safety! Learn as much as you can before you build, make or create. 

  1.    Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

I am selling natural skin care hand made by myself and my team right here in Buffalo, NY. I own trademark rights to my name and logo, which is my signature. 

  1.    What has been your greatest success in business?

I have to say my greatest success has been building a brand that inspires, empowers and educates girls. The more successful I become, the more people I reach. The more people I reach, the more girls I can help. That’s my mission.

  1.    What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Don’t stop! Find the help, resources, and support you need. It won’t always be easy but if you remember your “why” and stay focused on your mission, you will continue to push through. It’s totally worth it, I promise.

Want to know more about Zandra? Check out her website or watch the young entrepreneur on the TODAY Show and HarryTV.com.

FASHION LAB NY with featured maker, Arlene Kaye

fashionlab

Arlene Kaye, new to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire, is coming to show the art and science of fashion through her business, FASHION LAB NY. With extensive experience and knowledge in the fashion industry, we were honored to have her answer some questions and provide advice for future makers.

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

My passion for design started when I was six, making clothes by hand for my dolls, and myself. Once I got a sewing machine there was no stopping me. While my high school friends were shopping at the mall, I was at the fabric store designing something that would express my individuality and uniqueness. I continued following my passion by attending Philadelphia University and majoring in Textile Design. Now, a 30-year veteran in the fashion industry, I have led design, product development and merchandising for global brands including New Era Cap, Life is good, Timberland and Oshkosh B’Gosh. I started FASHION LAB NY in 2016 to inspire and mentor the next generation to develop their creative talents as it applies to fashion and sewing.flny2

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

First they need a vision and the willingness to follow their passion. Learning the skills and having the right tools will ensure their success. But it is not a one shot deal. They need to continue practicing and challenging themselves to fine-tune their skills. Our Labs and Workshops offer kids 7 – 17 the opportunity to discover, explore and invent their vision of fashion. Our programs are skill based while continuing to challenge our students to learn new techniques.

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

FASHION LAB NY, represents the opportunity to experiment creatively and invent through the Art and Science of Fashion. The programs offered at FLNY provide the environment and resources for students to express their own unique style with confidence, while having fun. FLNY offers Labs, Workshops and Summer Camps that teach the Fashion Design Process including, but not limited to Sewing, Sketching (Illustration), Trend Spotting and Creating your own Fashion Brand.

  1. What has been your greatest success in business?

My greatest success so far at FASHION LAB NY has been seeing a child pick up the skill of sewing or creating their own fashion brand and witnessing the joy they experience in knowing they have translated their vision into something tangible. Inspiring them to define…what is Fashion?

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

I will speak here to starting a new business. Although we all know it will not happen overnight, it is hard to accept that reality in the beginning. Even with years of working for major brands, I naively thought I would tell people about this incredible idea I had for FASHION LAB NY and about my experiences, and students would sign up. Guess what – that didn’t happen. I learned quickly how important it was to create a following and a network. But it takes time. So patience is also extremely necessary.

You must have a plan – both a financial and business outline. You need to have your financial ducks in a row, otherwise you will worry too much about the finances and that will zap all of your creative energy. Also, today Marketing is critical. Get up to speed on all forms of social media and use it! Know who your customer is and how to reach them. And most of all, surround yourself with people that support you and your idea. A strong network is worth building and maintaining.

Be sure to check out more of FASHION LAB NY on their WebsiteFacebook and Instagram page! And don’t miss Arlene at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th where you are encouraged to bring a used, clean T-shirt – (the softer the better!) for participants to up-cycle into a scarf and accessories and to try your hand at making a trendy choker.

Featured Maker: Community Music School

cms logo.Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play an instrument? Well now it is your chance at the 2017 Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th. Community Music School will have various instruments available to play and instructors will demonstrate how sound is produced and guide you to successful sound production on each instrument.

  1.    Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? Community Music School of Buffalo was established in 1924 to provide free and subsidized music instruction to Buffalo’s growing immigrant and refugee population. Over 90 years later, the school has grown to include six satellite locations, 30 faculty members, and hundreds of students. Children and adults of all ages and abilities make music every day in group classes, ensembles, individual lessons and music-therapy sessions.
  1.    What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? Creativity. Making music involves a great deal of hard work and study. Without the human element of creativity, all music would be the same, both from a performance and composition stand point.
  1.    Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? We do not sell individual products. Our instructors are a mix of certified performers and music educators, and they use their talents to help students make music of their own.
  1.    What has been your greatest success in business? We have been able to continue our mission of providing affordable, quality music instruction to the people of Western New York for over 90 years. As a non-profit, we are able to provide reduced cost lessons to many of our students through our financial assistance program.
  1.    What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? Making music is a highly developed skill and every musician makes mistakes. It’s important to use failure productively and learn from everything you do!

Want to know more about Community Music School and their programs, visit their website and don’t forget to check them out Saturday, May 20th at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire. 

The Nikola Tesla Experience with featured makers, Niffer Desmond and Geno Soroka

nikolo teslaCreative duo, Niffer Desmond and Geno Soroka, bought together by their admiration for Nikola Tesla are coming to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, to display the ultimate Nikola Tesla Experience. The artist and engineer teamed up to tell us how they became makers, their inspirations and some advice for future makers.

Answers from Niffer Desmond:

  1.   Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? My name is Niffer Desmond and I have been a creative maker since I can remember.  In the 70’s I grew up with a Microbiologist Father and artist/nurse mother. We traveled a lot and so I was exposed to many awesome sites of nature. I was always excited to create art and make things with my hands. I loved to go rock hunting and chase lizards and butterflies and go to museums. In college I dabbled with technology and created a humorous robot, the “Hugh Grant Machine” that would stutter and follow people around. I incorporated animals into my art a lot and made and animated puppets for films. The closest thing to an invention I made was a drawstring venus flytrap puppet that you could put together. But Drawing was always my first and foremost talent, and came to play when I created the Nikola Tesla coloring book. I first found out about him around the year 2000 and my love for him grew as I learned more about this generous genius, and felt compelled to make the book about his life and inventions in 2015.
  2.  What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? I think this is completely variable in the wide range of making and inventing possibilities- but certainly I’d say, safety first!  The biggest change making inventors will always be asking, how can I improve the way we live? Or how can I save the planet? Which are a high priority at this point.
  3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? I am selling my Nikola Tesla Coloring book in a few places- it is not an invention in itself per se, but it is the first and perhaps the only coloring book in the world about history’s greatest inventor! You can purchase it or read all about it in my blog at Teslacoloringbook.com.
  4. What has been your greatest success in business? Good question, I make art for a living and things go in and out of popularity. When I made this book I had some success with the Kickstarter campaign to launch, building a community around the cause of educating.
  5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? I don’t have professional advice here but my wisdom says to follow your intuition and passions!

Answers from Geno Soroka:

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker? My name is Geno Soroka. I have been making and building things since I was 14, robots, electronics, and etc. Eventually my hobbies led me to become an electrical engineer. Now I do what I love at work, and after work I help run a makerspace in Pittsburgh PA, HackPittsburgh. I teach electronics and programming classes to the public at HackPittsburgh, and help produce our own Pittsburgh Maker Faire. Like Niffer, I am fascinated by the inventor Nikola Tesla. He was the best Electrical Engineer ever, and is my role model. I run a club at HackPittsburgh dedicated to Nikola Tesla and High Voltage. We play around with Tesla coils and such.
  2. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider? Ask yourself, “Why are you making this?”, Will this help someone? Inspire someone? Or is this just for fun? It’s totally okay to make things which are just for fun. Also, know when to stop being a perfectionist. At some point you have to stop trying to improve your design, because there is no such thing as perfection. Sometimes you can make things worse by trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
  3. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place? I am not selling anything. I will be advertising memberships of HackPittsburgh which is a nonprofit makerspace in Pittsburgh PA.
  4. What has been your greatest success in business? I work full time for a company as an engineer. I have never tried to start my own business, but definitely planning on doing so one day.
  5. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development? Ask for help! Learn things from others! Find other people who love making things. Join a makerspace. They have tools, and community. You can do it alone, but it’s a lot more fun with others.

Don’t forget to check Niffer and Geno out at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire where you will be able to dive into the world of Nikola Tesla while coloring in pages in the Tesla coloring book, playing a musical Tesla coil on a piano, and making spooky sounds by moving the spirit radio around.

 

Rusterior Design with featured maker, Carrie Rinehart

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Did you ever want to try your hand at making a design on a tee shirt or tote? Well now is your chance at this years Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th with Carrie Rinehart from Rusterior. She will be showing the art of screen printing and allowing you to channel your inner maker and try it for yourself. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us about how she became a maker, her product and provide advice for future makers.

  1.  Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I started sewing some scarves and accessories as gifts and people saw them and went nuts so I put a few on Etsy and I ended up selling a lot of them. Then one day I sewed a silhouette of a buffalo on a tank top and I started selling a bunch of those. I would sell them at work or at the farmers markets and my business really took off from there. 

I really wanted to make something of my Etsy shop and wanted to build a brand, so I took a very down and dirty screen printing basics class in buffalo at the WNY book art center and I fell IN LOVE with screen printing. I have now been screen printing for about 3 years and I love it more and more every day. I love how simple yet complex it is and how you have the ability to create something so detailed and unique since every print will always have a slight variation. 

I have a very simplistic screen printing set up, with a press that I built out of an old door because when I first started I didn’t want to invest a whole lot of money and I still use that same press today!

  1.    What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

The importance of keeping good books. It is easy to take off without the proper foundations built. So my recommendation is to work from the ground up even though it is easy to jump right into the making, the business aspect is just as important 🙂 

  1.    Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

I am selling products and have been for 4 years. I have a couple of copyrights on designs and am in the process of trademarking my business name and becoming an LLC. 

  1.    What has been your greatest success in business? 

My greatest success has to be a tie between two. Buying and opening my mobile retail store was a big deal for me and is still a work in progress and also I will be showcasing my business in Feb 2018 at a NYC trade show called NYNOW.

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Research, Research and Research. Stay open minded and flexible because where you think you are headed may change drastically and you may end up in a total different place than where you thought you would end up. 

Don’t forget to visit Rusterior at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, where you are encouraged to bring your own tote, tee, or special paper and try your hand at screen printing. But, before you come, check out more of them on their WebsiteFacebook and Etsy page.

DIY BFLO with featured maker, Melissa Swiatek-Odien

diy bfloBack 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.

  1.    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.

  1.    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. 

  1.    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.

  1.    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.

  1.    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.

Stay posted on everything DIY BFLO through their Website, Instagram and Facebook page and don’t forget to visit them at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th.

Strong Sport Performance with featured maker, John Strong

SSPFirst time attendee, John Strong, of Strong Sport Performance, is attending Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th, to display, The Strong Spot, a swing trainer that has the potential to increase a hitter’s swing speed. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his business, product, and advice for future makers.

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

I’m a trainer and physical educator by trade. I guess I’ve always thought about new inventions or re-purposing existing products; I honestly feel like a lot of people do.  Musings that sound like, “hey wouldn’t it be cool if…” are pretty natural, but many times nothing comes of it.  This time for me it did! I thought of a way to improve on the training practices of my boys and I put that idea into action.

  1. What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

Building on my last answer I would say the idea of, “why not?”  So many times folks just “figure it’s already been done”.  Sure most times they’re right, but sometimes they’re wrong.  And even just doing the research to find out whether or not their idea is already out there will either lead them to find and use a product they wouldn’t have otherwise known about, or lead them to invent something that we can all share in to improve our lives in some way.

  1. Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

The Strong Spot is definitely for sale.  They retail for $500, just over the cost of a new high end bat.  I have a US patent and an EIN so I’m ready for folks to adopt it!

  1. What has been your greatest success in business?

Actually just putting Strong Sports Performance (www.strongsportsperformance.com) together as an LLC is my greatest accomplishment so far.  The process of beginning a new business is fraught with things that most folks don’t know about or consider or both.  I’m happy with my first year and am hoping that some sales perk up year two!

  1. What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?

Enjoy the problems that you will inevitably come across.  Treat it like a puzzle that you’re enjoying completing not a maze that you have to escape because your life’s depending on it.  The more stress you heap onto your problems the more challenging they’ll seem to solve because you won’t have all your available mental resources at your disposal. And also good luck 🙂

Don’t miss John Strong, Saturday, May 20th at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire where you too can test your swing and see how The Strong Spot can help you!