Back in September 2023, we welcomed a group of participants who are being supported by us at FabLab Coventry through the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Funded Project (AMIF), known as MyCoventry. The purpose of this series of workshops was to provide these individuals with the opportunity to learn and develop their entrepreneurial skills. By taking part in our first showcase, they were able to advertise and promote the maker support services available through FabLab. This initiative aimed to empower these individuals and help them integrate into the Coventry community by equipping them with the necessary tools and resources to start their own businesses.
Four women initially joined the maker group, forming a close-knit community of creative individuals. Their weekly gatherings at FabLab, which took place every Thursday afternoon, served as a platform for not only learning new skills but also for enhancing their existing ones. The women were driven by their passion for innovation and entrepreneurship, and they utilised the resources available at FabLab to create marketable products. Through their collaboration and dedication, they were able to develop a diverse range of products that catered to various needs and preferences. As a result, their skills and expertise continued to grow. Their success story serves as an inspiration to other aspiring makers and entrepreneurs.
Our Maker team started by mastering the fundamentals of product design, acquiring the skills to develop market ready product ideas that leverage their unique strengths. We delved into the essentials, comprehending how to create product concepts that cater to the demands of the market.
Even though each lady had unique product visions, the principles and information on brand development and the creation of successful products for a thriving business are universally applicable.
In our inaugural alumni meet in October, where we rolled out invitations to all our past attendees from both AMIF and ESF projects, we were fortunate to gain a new member to our Maker Team, increasing our team size to five. This posed an initial hurdle for the newcomer as she joined later than her peers. Consequently, she had to put in additional effort to get up to speed, comprehend the entrepreneurial concepts, and create her products within the given timeframe.
The women were all provided with comprehensive support throughout their entire journey, following a structured framework:
- Developing product idea.
- Identity, brain storming product line
- Testing, prototyping and production
- Costing & market analysis
- Marketing the products
- Packaging & display
Each team member dedicated extensive effort over the past 3 months to evolve their product concepts into tangible accomplishments. Their determination and hard work allowed them to transform their ideas into reality. Their unwavering commitment to excellence and persistent effort have resulted in remarkable achievements.
Every aspect of the brand, including its name, identity, and products, as well as the associated expenses, marketing techniques, design choices, and presentation methods, has been thoroughly examined to ensure the best possible outcomes for all individuals. The participants have taken great care to meticulously plan and execute every element in order to achieve optimal results. Every detail has been thoughtfully considered and implemented to create a successful and impactful experience.
Our participants, who come from various backgrounds and cultures, have worked together harmoniously to achieve impressive success and create exquisite handmade products. We take great pride in the invaluable contributions of Nazila from Iran, Aisha from Turkey, Winsome from Hong Kong, Gayatri from India, and Anggia from Indonesia, who have played an essential role in this collective endeavour. This multicultural collaboration has fostered a truly unique and inspiring atmosphere, where these women have not only benefited from the support of FabLab but also from the ongoing encouragement and assistance provided by one another. The results speak for themselves, as our participants have surpassed expectations and created an exceptional body of work. The ladies have also collaborated to share a booth at other local makers markets, allowing them to split the costs and promote their products. By joining forces, the participants have been able to reach a wider audience to help establish themselves, whilst making it as cost-effective as possible during the early stages of the business.
Maral Collection UK
Nazila (Maral Collection UK), is dedicated to developing her hand-made jewellery collection and growing her small business. In order to overcome the challenge of not being able to find her preferred materials in the UK, Nazila had to devise a new creative approach to crafting her jewellery designs. She embarked on an experimental phase, where she explored different materials during the prototyping process. This exploratory process allowed her to develop the necessary techniques to bring her unique designs to life. The invaluable support and expertise provided by FabLab and its tutors played a vital role in her journey. Nazila takes great pride in creating exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces that beautifully convey her artistic vision and craftsmanship. With FabLab’s assistance, she has been able to overcome obstacles and establish her brand in the UK.
“I am thankful for the support and encouragement form all the FabLab groups specially for any help related to starting my own job and converting my art and skills to real business. For a person from overseas the same as me is really hard to find any source for preparing the material but every time the place FabLab is in my mind for finding anything in the UK.”-Nazila
Aisha (Yedi Yun), who mastered the art of knitting from a young age under her grandmother’s guidance, showcases her talent by creating a stunning collection of handmade and upcycled knitted products. Her range includes fashionable fingerless gloves that offer both warmth and flexibility, elegant coasters that add a touch of sophistication to any table setting, and cosy neck warmers that provide comfort on chilly days. To establish her brand, Aisha cleverly incorporated her Turkish heritage by designing stamps and labels that reflect her background as a migrant. She also received support in determining the pricing of her products and creating attractive bundle deals to entice customers. Aisha’s dedication to her craft shines through in the intricate designs and attention to detail evident in each of her creations. Through her passion for knitting, she not only keeps the art alive but also contributes to sustainable practices by repurposing materials.
“It was lovely to be together with all the ladies, beyond the sales personally I enjoyed the showcase our products and working together. Thank you all for supporting each other, it is so important feeling that someone appreciating you work and afford, big THANK YOU to fablabcov behalf of all enter-pruners for kind and sincere support all the way to the end.”-Aisha
Anggia (Archipelago), is a talented designer who has meticulously crafted a stunning collection of hand-made tote bags. The brand name Archipelago perfectly captures the essence of preserving and conserving in green living. These exquisite canvas tote bags showcase a captivating square motif inspired by traditional batik patterns. With its impeccable craftsmanship and commitment to eco-friendly practices, by seamlessly blending modern concepts with rich cultural heritage, Archipelago offers a sustainable and reusable bag that is not only stylish but also perfect for everyday use. Anggia embarked on a journey of creativity and growth, starting from scratch. After participating in multiple textile upcycling workshops at FabLab, she discovered her passion and decided to pursue it further. Marrying her Indonesian roots with her newfound skills, she conceived a reusable canvas tote bag adorned with a beautiful square-shaped batik fabric on one side. Additionally, Anggia developed her brand, incorporating sustainable values and seeking ways to empower women in her homeland. Her vision extends beyond her brand, aiming to evolve into a social enterprise that uplifts and supports Indonesian women.
“I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support that I have received from the amazing Fab Lab team since the beginning of my journey. The time we spent together, the inspiration gained from every workshop I participated in, and the valuable experience at the Maker Market have been instrumental in creating this wonderful product. From the initial idea and insightful brand consultations to the details of product implementation, including the artistic touch of laser-cut printed logo tags and pricing consideration, each step felt achievable because of the warm and friendly environment provided by the Fab Lab team. Their support has truly transformed my vision into a tangible reality. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the Fab Lab team for making this incredible output a possibility.
Again, many thanks for all support & opportunity for all process. I enjoy each session & gain unforgettable experience beyond my expectation.”-Anggia
Winsome, an innovative sustainable fashion designer, is reshaping the industry with her eco-fashion products. She creates stylish yet sustainable items from upcycled textiles, advocating to revolutionise the fashion industry. Winsome offers a range of eco-fashion products. Her products range from wine glass slipper coasters to versatile textile tote bags and wine bottle totes, each designed to reduce our carbon footprint. With a mission to infuse sustainability, creativity, and empowerment into fashion, Winsome is helping to discover and share the joy of wearing fashion that not only looks great but also contributes to a better future. Winsome already has a clear vision for her brand and used this opportunity to introduce a new product, her takeaway cup carrier, and enhance her branding and labelling. During the prototyping phase, she experimented with three different versions of the carrier, drawing inspiration from upcycled textiles to create unique and eye-catching designs. After careful consideration and testing, Winsome settled on the final product design. This process allowed her to ensure that her products would be visually appealing and easily understood by users. The use of upcycled textiles showcases her commitment to eco-friendly practices.
“At FabLab Coventry, I’m surrounded by a community that not only supports my sustainable fashion journey but ignites a passion within me. The camaraderie with like-minded friends and artists fosters a sense of inspiration, making every step in the workshop a creative adventure. The cutting-edge technology and constantly updated design software amplify my ability to bring eco-friendly visions to life. Exploring the art of upcycling textiles, sharing innovative marketing ideas, and embracing eco-friendly printing techniques is not just a process—it’s a collective effort to redefine fashion. The production tools at FabLab empower me to craft garments that transcend trends, while the sustainable packaging reflects our commitment to a greener tomorrow. FabLab Coventry is not just a workshop; it’s a haven where creativity, sustainability, and a supportive community converge, propelling my sustainable fashion aspirations to new heights. Thank you.”-Winsom
Gayatri Pascha – Graphic Designer and Illustrator
Gayatri, a Warwickshire-based graphic designer, initially had no idea on product design other than really wanting to try to make a real world product with her graphic design skills. Utilising a mood board, Gayatri was able to narrow down her product idea and create some doodles as means of experimentation. She developed an illustration style graphic which she then utilised for her unique line of products including pin badges, brooches, and cards. These charming creations feature her signature penguin designs, tailored to various activities and interests. What sets her work apart is the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into each piece. Each piece is carefully made from laser-cut wood and hand-painted with vibrant resin colours, a process that involved a lot of learning and testing using the laser cutter. The entire collection, aptly named the “Pengrin Parade”, showcases her creativity and keen attention to detail.
“As a graphic designer, I work for companies and commissions that fulfil visions or proposals that aren’t necessary mine. FabLab gave me a space to experiment and create a range of products that I consider to be my very own. In the earlier stages, instructors helped with the iterations of an idea till I found an art direction. As the Maker’s Market was at Christmas time, we finalised on the penguins, and then progressed to “penguins doing things”. Learning to get files laser cut ready, using the laser cutting machines has been a useful skill which I will add to my practice. With the guidance of the instructors, we refined the penguins further with resin, colours and glitter to craft something I think is special. There was a lot of thought and conversations on how to showcase the items on a stall, and the instructors created custom stands and we planned the display. As a new-ish mother, and in between jobs, I feel the FabLab Makers Market’s open and supporting environment was what is needed at this juncture in my life (not being too fatalist).”-Gayatri