Lansing’s newest Maker Space is aimed at a slightly different crowd than its counterparts. In fact, its audience can’t drive themselves to the space, or in some cases, even cross the street by themselves.
The Mini Maker Space is a space for kids. It’s somewhere they can come to Imagine, Develop, and Build. At an age where they want to create and let their imaginations flow, there aren’t a lot of spaces that encourage them to do so. So many educational environments focus on the future, Melissa Allen and those at the Mini Maker Space want to focus on the now.
Melissa Allen and her husband, Chris
Where the Idea Came From:
Melissa’s dad, Joe, is a part of a few maker spaces, so she’d seen the things that have come out of them. Then, she began to notice there wasn’t anything like them for kids, “and kids love to create and make things,” she says. “There are a lot of science things but not a lot of maker things.” They decided to change that.
The family already had experience in the Startup environment, winning the Hatching once for their product, Poochie Bowl and graduating to a store front in the Meridian Mall. By utilizing the space they already had, and entering, and winning the Hatching for a second time, they were able to launch the Mini Maker Space.
The Problem Being Solved:
Armed with this vision and experience, Melissa and her family began to fill the void. They are offering a space for kids to create. It’s a place where kids can explore their curiosity and let their imaginations run wild. “There’s a big maker movement right now,” she says, “but for adults, not for kids.” They are filling that market.
Melissa is excited to be a part of a largely untapped market. She’s also excited by the future possibilities of the space. “It’s not something we have to keep in house,” she says and has hopes to take the tools and resources they can offer out into schools, libraries and other facilities.
Their biggest challenge so far has simply been letting people know they are here. To get the word out, they have been doing a lot of events, partnering with libraries and schools and depending a lot of word of mouth. “Someone will listen a lore more to a friend than an advertisement,” she says.
Melissa says she is always surprised to see how often kids are told no, they can’t accomplish something and how very little they are encouraged to pursue ideas. “They are always asked what they can do when they grow up, not what they can do now.”
The studio, which was launched with the winnings from October’s Hatching, has been largely bootstrapped and supported by family and friends. But, they are currently looking for investors. “The more funding we get, the bigger we can expand.”
Melissa would like to see the studio expand and gain multiple licenses, growing into multiple locations. More currently though, she would like to see the current studio, which is sharing space with the family’s store, Kids and Dogs, expanded into its own maker space.
Melissa encourages young entrepreneurs to listen to the wisdom of the people around them, and turn to those that have been through what they’re going through. “They can really save you trouble if you listen to what they say.”
Join the fun!
Take your kids to Take-It-Apart-Tuesday!
Every Tuesday, 5-9 at the Mini Maker Space, inside Kids and Dogs, located in the Meridian Mall
Bring your kids somewhere they can actually take things apart and see how they work!