Michelle FitzGerald: artist, visionary, local.
We're often told to follow our dreams, but then depending on the dream, the advice to stay on the safe side is added. I have always loved art, making things from scratch and being able to learn new skills so I could DIY life. Artists were starving, so I was encouraged to become a doctor. I compromised and became a teacher, a middle school English teacher.
So, after a few years of lesson planning, grading and not touching my art supplies, I had enough. I resigned and started to work from home with my husband, Nat FitzGerald. He allowed me to get back to making. I made wallets, jewelry, re purposed old materials, took up metal smithing, print making, sewing, learned vector imaging and made laser cut art, built a website, sold art at 9 art shows and online, and all in 6 months.
My dreams were bigger than my basement could contain. My search for a space that would provide support and encouragement to an artist and entrepreneur, a space that combined art, design, science and technology, a space with shared tools, a variety of disciplines and equipment and would be affordable left me clueless. How could such a culturally rich and growing community not have this? It felt like our artists were secluded and neglected. I wanted to see a community of supportive, collaborating artists and makers who would encourage and challenge each other to be better. And I wanted the community to see and appreciate that work. So I started MAKE SOUTH BEND.
How we started
As we were preparing to launch MAKE SOUTH BEND, we asked you to help by donating. We ran a crowdfunding campaign through our website and social media pages. Our goal was to get $20,000 for start up funds. By the end of the one month campaign we had over 20 crowdfunders give over $2,500. We got an interest-free loan from family and an SBA loan from 1st Source to make up the remainder and cover some additional start up operating costs. So, we were fully funded and launched mid February.
Sponsor reward packages were sent out the beginning of February 2015 and a launch party followed.
We want to offer our thanks again to everyone who helped and encouraged us with your financial support. We were able to get the space fixed up because of you: new paint, light fixtures, furniture, shelving and more. Thank you.
Gold Level Sponsors:
Nat and Michelle FitzGerald
Rob and Tara Wallace
Jess and Reed Lyons