South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium

South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium

Three Decades of Higher Education Excellence Through Collaboration

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  • SouthWorks Offers Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program

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    SouthWorks MakerLab Network is again offering the official Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program. Twenty crafters- some are experienced crafters who have sold online or at local craft fairs and others are thinking about turning items they’ve made for family and friends into a business venture- gather on six consecutive Tuesday evenings at South Suburban College’s Oak Forest Campus to learn from an experienced Etsy seller how to turn their “making” talents into a business.

    Products range from unique works of art to homemade rocking horses to jewelry, clothing, and household furniture and décor. Even e-books and music are sold on Etsy as long as they are designed or hand made by the seller. Vintage items and craft supplies are the only exception.

    SouthWorks is the only Etsy-certified training provider in the Chicagoland region. The program provides prospective and current Etsy sellers with an understanding of the process to start a business and to create an online Etsy store. Much time is spent on online marketing tools and techniques, product pricing strategies, and operations and customer service. A professional photographer even teaches them how to take the most inviting photos of their items to post in their Etsy store using only their smartphone camera and items they already have at home.

    MakerLabs are a natural opportunity for people to develop products that sell on Etsy. Laser cutters and engravers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, computer-controlled carvers, woodworking, metalworking, electronics equipment and more provide ample inspiration and opportunity for creativity. Tools have become much easier to master, so that anyone with a design idea should be able to quickly produce a prototype. In addition, much of the design and operating software has become free, so users can access it from their own computers at home. The MakerLabs provide training as well as consultation and open shop time for individuals to work on their own project ideas- whether a new product to sell, a one-of-a-kind gift, or the home repair project.

  • SouthWorks MakerLab Network Receives Grant From The Coleman Foundation for Maker Entrepreneurship Program

    SMHEC’s SouthWorks MakerLab Network Receives Grant From The Coleman Foundation for Maker Entrepreneurship Program

    SMHEC has received a one-year, $55,900 grant from The Coleman Foundation to provide training to entrepreneurs whose businesses center on physical products.

    Through our SouthWorks MakerLab Network, SMHEC will develop and deliver entrepreneurship education and support with resources specific to making/manufacturing for aspiring entrepreneurs who may not be professionally trained designers or engineers or otherwise have access to manufacturing capabilities. The programming will have two distinct tracks- one for craft/artisan- type businesses and another for businesses making a wider range of physical product-based products. Each track will provide access to the MakerLab and resources for fabricating the product and creating a business.

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    Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship programs will run twice during the year. Etsy is an online marketplace for hand-crafted and vintage goods with nearly 29 million purchasers from nearly every country on the planet. SouthWorks is the exclusive provider of Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship program, which provides a six-session training program to help artisans successfully create and manage their online store on Etsy. Selling on Etsy can provide supplemental income from their talents, and many Etsy sellers even build full-time businesses employing additional people.

    Maker Entrepreneurship will provide training and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs with a product idea who have been thwarted by limited access to prototyping and manufacturing resources. Activities during the year will include community-building events, makerlab sessions, effective prototyping, design thinking training and consulting in order to build a product that meets user needs, lean startup techniques for physical products, and identifying eventual production resources.

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    The Coleman Foundation is a private, independent grant-making foundation established in Illinois in 1951. The Foundation supports educational institutions offering entrepreneurship education, organizations providing cancer treatment, education and support, and agencies providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities only in the Chicago Metropolitan area - its primary geographical focus.