Why Making Things

In the excitement of launching, we’ve been blown away by how curious you all are about who we are and what we’re doing!

Megan Elizabeth
Nov 7, 2018

So, let’s dig in. I’ll answer as many questions as I can here, and if there’s anything you’re still wondering about, ask away! We are a community-first company built on feedback from you 😀

I’m Megan - founder and CEO of Making Things. Before Making Things, I’d been running Wool days (a boutique Australian yarn company) for 3 years. During this time, the same thought kept coming up in conversations with our customers: I want my making world to fit snugly into my fast and crazy world, so I don’t have to leave it behind. So I can still be me.

While I loved what I got to do every day (visiting local sheep farms, creating yarn, talking with our community), I sometimes struggled to see how Wool days was going to keep up with the pace of the world around me. The world has changed so much in recent history, technology has completely altered how we consume content, and how we interact with our communities. I kept wondering how the making world could grow complementary to the way we connect technologically. I wondered if there was a different way of interacting with my making process - a way of making that fit in with how busy I was running a new business, how far away most of my making pals were, and how on-the-go my life was and continues to be.

I started asking others about their making experiences, trying to see if I was alone in this line of thinking. As it turned out, others had been thinking this way too! So, after many (many!) conversations with friends and strangers alike, we got to work building Making Things.

The interface was simple - we took the feedback we’d heard in these conversations, and implemented it step by step. It was a little clunky, but as expected, our making community was gentle and accommodating as we learned and grew. Next thing we knew, we had hundreds of people testing out the platform, and the feedback was positive - people were obsessed with the potential for this new way of making things.

Next, we invited designers to join us - who are central to our vision. We took a small selection of patterns and reformatted them so they were interactive - creating a truly convenient and digital making experience. The patterns adapted to your screen size, and we built a tool library from the feedback we’d heard the most. People wanted to be able to keep track of where they were, so we made a sticky highlighter, they wanted to be able to keep track of multiple row counts at once, so we made simple-to-use row counters. We created dual axle chart readers, and made note-taking breezy.

It was all just as seamless as using a pen and post-its, at least it was meant to be. Our testers gave us feedback, we took it on board, and kept iterating. One bit of feedback stood out time and again - our community wanted to make while on-the-go, and they wanted this experience to feel seamless and simple. They wanted to keep making with friends, even after they’d left their local making group. They wanted to connect with their online community, which is the case for so many of us who have found “our people” through incredible platforms like Ravelry and Instagram. We were, and are, co-creating our dream tool for making, and that’s what gives me passion to work tirelessly on Making Things.

Working closely with designers, conversations kept coming up around recognition, pay, support and safety. Designers build communities, brands, and stories. They dream up, design, test, do maths, redesign, tech edit, photograph, format, market, sell, teach and tech support each pattern they create. With all this in mind, we started rethinking how we access patterns, in a way that celebrates all the work of designers, and creates a predictable and sustainable income — which we believe is one of the most powerful supporters of creativity.

This is why we evolved Making Things to a membership-based platform, to grant access to a growing library of beautiful, tried, and tested patterns to our community, and to ensure that our hardworking designers were being fairly compensated and valued for their work. Our membership fees create a pool of money that each designer on the platform has the opportunity to share each month. The larger the member base, the larger the share & support for each designer!

We want to be really clear about how revenue is generated with this model, and where it goes:

Referrals:

  • Designers share their patterns on Making Things. Each new community member is valuable to all designers on Making Things, so we reward designers for bringing their fans to this community. On each designer’s unique profile page, there is a "sign up and support this designer" button, which gives the subscriber access to the entire platform. You, the subscriber, can choose the designer you want to support and sign up through their profile page - think of it as a way of saying “thanks” to your favorite designers for all their hard work. Your designer of choice will receive your first 2 months membership fees directly (minus payment fees, so $10USD / month), plus a bonus month if you join during our launch month of November! During this time, we cover the cost of users accessing patterns on the platform, because we value all creativity and pattern access equally 💪

Pattern access:

  • Each time you access a pattern (i.e. when you go beyond the preview mode in a pattern) we mark your visit and credit the designer whose work you’ve accessed. At the end of the month your membership fee is shared between all the designers whose patterns you accessed. This goes for every month you access a pattern - so if it takes you 8 weeks to finish a sweater, or if you loved that shawl so much you make it every year, the designer is compensated each time.

Platform costs:

  • After the first 2 months we split revenue evenly with designers, using the platform’s share (50%) to cover things like pattern support, tech editing, photography, pattern processing, building pattern tools & technology, creating tutorials, workshops and sharing the stories of those who make our community so special. All of these things designers would usually pay for, so with this model we keep their costs low and make becoming a profitable knitwear designer more feasible.

We’re intentionally keeping our ratio of designers on the platform low, so that we can keep the quality of support, content and pay for designers high! In this way, we aren’t aiming to replace any of the currently offered pattern services, but to provide a new way of making for those who crave it - which isn’t everyone, and that’s okay!

Making Things is an open conversation and it will continue to evolve. What matters to you matters to us, and we’re excited to share our ideas (and hear yours!) as we expand in new ways that allow us to support our local yarn shops, favorite podcasters, and the indie dyers and yarn companies we love so much. We are a creative people, not only with our hands but our minds. We’ve all thought “what if …” Now we’re building it. Together.

So that’s where we’re at! We officially launched last week, which means you can become a member of Making Things to access all the patterns and all the tools. Our library of patterns is now your library of patterns. Our community is now your community. Our platform is now your platform as we build this together.

FAQ

What is the cost of MT?
Making Things costs USD$11.99/month. It is billed on a calendar month and pro-rated if you join mid-month. You can cancel at any time.

How do designers get paid on MT?
Designers are paid when members interact with their patterns on the platform, and through referring new community members to the platform.

Can I use MT without WiFi?
Making Things is currently a web app, which means it needs the internet to sync your pattern library and tools. We’re building our native app at the moment, which means patterns will be available offline, and your pattern library & progress will be synced when you’re back online!

What happens if I cancel my MT membership?
If you decide you’d like to cancel your membership (or pause your it over summer perhaps?) you can request that we keep you pattern data. So if / when you come back, all your notes, counts, patterns and wish lists will be just as you left them! If you’re on a monthly membership, you can cancel at any time and you will keep access to the platform for the rest of that month. If you cancel a yearly membership, you will keep access to the platform for the rest of the month, and we will refund the portion of the year you did not use (the free month for yearly subscriptions is added as the last month of the year).

Is there a limit on the number of patterns I can look at or work on each month?
No. There has been some confusion around this because of a clause in our Terms of Service. This clause (which may flag members if they access more than 30 patterns per month) is here to safeguard our site and our designers against malicious users and bots. This clause is a bit of a catch 22 for us - we don’t want to limit our well-intended members, but we need to be able to protect our designers (as part of their pay is dictated by how many members are accessing their patterns). For the average member with no malicious intent, pattern usage and access in unlimited. If you exceed 30 patterns a month, we may look into it on a case-by-case basis to make sure you’re not a bot!

These are the most common questions we’ve had. If you have any others, let us know and we’ll add as many of them here as possible!

Meet Our Team

My name is Megan (hi!) and, along with my partner Robbie, I started Making Things. It was just the 2 of us for the first couple of months, now we’re a team of 6 with a whole lot of help from knitters and crocheters! Making Things would not exist without the passion & dedication of our small, but mighty, team.

Megan - CEO, Founder, Do-er of All The Things

My main role is head conversation-haver. I talk to people & host conversations as much as possible, with designers, makers, LYS owners and dyers. My main question: What’s the common thing about all our making dreams? I use this inform what we work on next & where we spend energy. I’m a knitter, and super excited to be learning crochet (thanks mum!).

Robbie - Design & Do-er of All The Things

Robbie designs the platform by melding all the ideas & suggestions our community has - he’s taking our wildest making dreams and turning them into something beautiful we can hold in our hands. He’s also our general wizard of all things and in-house tech support.

Earle - Building Things

Earle builds our platform. He’s also learning how to knit so he can better understand our wants, and frustrations. In our open product meetings, people from our community would try and stump him with cool ideas of what to build next, but it always ends in the same way - he takes our suggestions and comes back with something 10x better.

Tovah - Patterns (so many other things too, but mainly patterns for now!)

Tovah in in charge of turning PDF patterns into interactive patterns. She’s an incredibly hard-working woman, taking charge of the patterns at MT whilst working on her Masters of Arts and Cultural Management and art directing our pattern shoots and coordinating our pattern support crew. Whew. Tovah started as a crocheter, but has since fallen for knitting as well.

Claire - Community

Claire is our main cheerleader, content creator, #1 fan of all things Making Things. She’s behind all our stories, blog posts, films & resources - it’s her job to find out what our community wants to see/hear/learn and bring it to life! She’s a pastel-loving knitting queen and an amazing yarn dyer!

Meg - Stories

Meg is a born storyteller - she knows how to cut straight to the heart of a story / moment / conversation and share it with the world in a way that celebrates its truth & beauty. We’re thrilled to have Meg working tirelessly to bring the most interesting stories from every corner of our community to life. It’s Meg’s personal challenge to get every knitter, crocheter, spinner & dyer she meets to teach her something.

Pattern / App Support

We have an epic team of knitters & crocheters (wo)manning our in app chat as many hours of the day as possible, helping your with anything platform & pattern related! They are known for their perfectly timed GIFs 😉

Pattern Processing

This is the human machine of our digital patterns. Each pattern we add to the platform needs to be manually processed, which takes about an hour. So far we have 1202 patterns live on Making Things (so 1202 hours, at least, have been spent just getting the patterns onto the platform!)  We have a team of 10 knitters, crocheters & designers from around the world working on processing patterns as quickly as possible!

Support crew

Accountants, advisors, cheerleaders, proofreaders, lunch makers, photographers, tech editors, lawyers, platform testers, film crew, family, friends - none of us would be able to do what we do without our amazing support crew.

We’re a startup!

Robbie and I ran Wool days as a bootstrapped company, which means we paid for everything with our own money - as most of us do! We saved money from other jobs and sold things to be able to afford our first batch of yarn. We paid the farmers & processors up front for their work, which was really hard as we hadn’t yet sold any yarn! But there was no question that we would do it. I would never expect people to work for free, or exposure, or be paid later ‘if things went well’. Our producers were running a business, just as we were.

One of our core values at Making Things is valuing creativity. So when we decided to start Making Things we knew we needed money to be able to pay people - fairly and on time. Wool days was going well, but not ‘pay all the designers for all their patterns well’. I wrote about our journey to fund our idea here. (Excuse the business talk and complete lack of reference to making in the piece, I was speaking to our incredible experience in a startup accelerator program.) I had to fight hard every single day to be taken seriously - I am so passionate about Making Things & full of resilience built from fighting for our idea daily!

We now have the funds to pay our team fairly - our designers and creation/support team - who are all earning competitive wages for their work. We recognize that this is not always (in fact, rarely) the case in our industry, and fair pay for our team, including designers, is at the core of what we’re doing. It wasn’t enough for us to just say that we want to do this eventually (when we’re profitable) we have to do it now - and we are.

So, is Making Things a startup? Yes! We have amazing investors who believe in our mission to support the making community. Which means we now have the resources to support a truly sustainable income for everyone involved. Everyone on our team is working obsessively on our mission so that we can bring you the best that digital making has to offer. We are only as good as our community, so please - share your  feedback. We are here with ears wide open, ready to evolve, improve, and grow Making Things. We cannot do this without you, as we know that only together will make something truly amazing.

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