Citygram Q+A with Brit Morin

While necessity may be the mother of invention, it could be said that creativity makes for a pretty great babysitter. And for a host of twenty- and thirty-somethings whose Eames-level aspirations are at odds with their IKEA budgets, if there were ever a one-woman brand perfectly poised to pick up at the generational divide where Martha Stewart left off, it’s Brit Morin. The UT Austin grad and former Google product marketer has made quite a name for herself thanks to her pitch-perfect understanding of visual appeal, thrifty ingenuity and MacGuyver-esque craftiness. And now, she’s taking her DIY show on the road.

The Brit + Co. founder’s Re:Make festival was so popular in San Francisco last year that this year’s iteration included an Austin version, too, held at the Palmer Events Center on May 3 and 4. Featuring makers from both coasts as well as a healthy array of Austin-based goods from the likes of ATX Hackerspace, MakeATX, Pigment & Pine, Fox & Brie and more, the free event provided a platform for artisans to sell their wares, for attendees to try their hands at craftwork at a DIY necklace station, and for all to enjoy live MakerBot 3D printing demos. Awash in bright colors, scented with handmade candles and soaps, and thumping with live DJ sets, the event welcomed guests into a wonderland of fresh sights, smells and sounds.

We caught up with Brit to ask about her favorite Texas artisans, her thoughts on unlocking creativity in everyday life, and the best resources for makers of all kinds here in her old college town. Here are her responses.

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CITYGRAM: Welcome back to Austin! We’re guessing (perhaps pridefully) that it’s fun for you to revisit your old stomping grounds. Tell us a little about the Re:Make event, and why you chose to hold it here (aside from your affinity for breakfast tacos and burnt orange, that is).

BRIT: It’s wonderful to be back in Austin! Re:Make is an event we started last year in San Francisco, where Brit + Co. is headquartered, and it is really focused on exploring how technology and digital innovations are changing the way we make and create. We do this by bringing together our favorite makers, designers, and inventors to showcase their products. Additionally, we believe that all humans are inherently “makers,” so we also have areas at Re:Make that are tailored to learning and creating. Over the two days, anyone in Austin can come out to make or shop — or ideally, both!

Texas is where I was born and raised. As soon as we began talking about expanding this event to another location, I knew it had to be Austin! There’s a wonderful maker spirit already here, with artisans like Beam by Callen Thompson and Hidden Vices Jewelry just to name a few — not to mention the creative community of students at UT, my alma mater.

And yes, I will be stopping for breakfast tacos both days before the event. I miss them so much!

C: What are your favorite resources in Austin for materials and inspiration?
Are there any hidden gems you can tell us about?

“We’re at a moment where people are rediscovering their ability to design, to create (engineer)…and in essence, to become a true maker.”– BRIT MORIN

B: Oh of course! On the materials front, I love places like Stitch Lab (sewing), Nomadic Notions (jewelry), and Jerry’s Artarama (supplies). For learning and digital manufacturing, I’m a huge fan of TechShop Austin. (TechShop SF is where I began Brit + Co!) And as far as inspiration, you can’t beat a nice trail run on Town Lake. I come up with all my best ideas when I run.

C: In a recent Q&A with MythBusters’ Adam Savage, we asked him about the quote, “Great design will change the world.” He countered it with this response: “Design makes the world a nicer place to live in. Engineering will save the world.”
We’re curious: what’s your take?
Fox&Brie1
B: Design and engineering are not mutually exclusive. The best products have the best of both. We’re at a moment where people are rediscovering their ability to design, to create (engineer), to sell, and in essence, to become a true maker.

C: If you could give just one piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs in the maker space, what would it be?

B: Find advocates! A big part of what we’re focused on at Brit + Co. is how to elevate the maker movement by telling the stories of makers who are doing incredible things. Having advocates and people who will tell your story for you will only help you get noticed faster by more people.
 

“Find advocates! Having advocates and people who will tell your story for you will only help you get noticed faster by more people.”– BRIT MORIN

C: So, you went from being a UT alumna to a Google employee to an entrepreneur with a wildly popular content hub, a wedding-planning app, a commercial venture in the form of DIY craft kits, an annual event drawing crowds in the thousands, and frequent contributions to the TODAY Show as a lifestyle correspondent. What’s next?
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B: Currently, I’m in the process of writing a book, entitled Homemakers, that’s designed to be a modern domestic handbook for today’s woman, covering all the basics of what you need to know about DIY, technology, and creativity in the home and beyond.

We’ve also got some big things planned for our site in the coming weeks that are focused around continuing to support makers as well as our drive to unlock creativity in everyday people.
 
 


GET CONNECTED

Brit’s favorite resources in Austin for materials and inspiration:

 
 

Stitch Lab (Sewing)

1000 South 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
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Nomadic Notions (Jewelry)

3010 W Anderson Ln
Austin, TX 78757
Twitter Facebook
 
 

Jerry’s Artarama

6010 N I H 35
Austin, TX 78752
Twitter Facebook
 
 


Photos: Profile photo courtesy of Brit + Co, event photos by Amy Lynch
Writing by Amy Lynch


This article originally published in The Balance Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [May/June 2014].
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