This past weekend, The Grommet crew arrived in the Big Apple with Grommets and passion in tow. As we neared the New York Hall of Science grounds and the majestic rockets of Rocket Park came into view, we knew we were in for an adventure. We had arrived at the greatest show and tell on Earth (the World Maker Faire).
Up went our booth, crafted from wood and metal. Out came our Grommets, packed into carefully curated boxes. PocketMonkey, Speaker Creature, Mist, Pin Pals, IN1 Case, Gigs 2 Go, Craftholic, KeySmart… For a “red carpet” welcome, we rolled out a Yoga by Numbers mat. At 10 AM each day, the floodgates opened to this part amusement park, part fairgrounds, and part technology event. The crowds swarmed the expansive grounds and many curious minds hitting our booth with wide, inquisitive eyes. Visitors from all over the globe, eager to learn about us, crept close with a wonderfully recurrent turn of phrase: “What is The Grommet?”
But the sweetest phrase of all was, “I know you!” We knew we had to prepare to talk about our work with Makers, but to receive so many beaming visitors recognizing us (and chasing Kate down during a pop-over to a food truck!) was validating. We also received surprise visits from our Makers themselves: Andy from PlayTape (above on the left in orange), Andrea from Mimish, Keisha from Swoon (above on the right with Kate), and even Evan from our partner Indiegogo, came by to greet us.
Perhaps the most inspiring visits, however, came from children. They entered our booth brimming with excitement and knowledge of what makes a great product. One young visitor in particular was 13-year-old Xander. He burst into the booth and declared how he’d been following our emails for a while. Then he described the technology, usefulness, and wonder of every Grommet in the booth just as if he had starred in the videos. We were blown away.
While we got to make the experience for many Maker Faire participants, we also got to explore a bit and take in the two-day event. There seemed to be a noticeable shift in the concept of education. Last year may have been focused on 3D printing and DIY/making as concepts, but this year’s Maker Faire made it very real. Big companies like LG and RadioShack sponsored huge maker tents that hosted soldering and DIY workshops. There was even a Fix It Village, showcasing groups that were dedicated to promoting repair as part of the consumer product cycle -- a fascinating perspective as the broader Maker Movement encouraged greater involvement in the making of our things.
We also experienced this Maker Movement firsthand as Makers brought their products to our "Pitch to Launch"office hours to chat with the team about pricing, packaging, and if people would “get” their product. After six years of building a community of Makers and supporters online, we were thrilled to be squarely in the midst of such excitement and understanding of our work, offline.
And that fact that we got to meet some of the smartest kids on Earth left us looking forward to discovering the future products they create (it just might be the next great Grommet idea).