Residency Recap

From David Anderson, our Quarter 1 Part time resident:

When I found the Makeshift Society website and its residency program, I was considering many options for where to incubate my next tech startup through its earliest days. With the profusion of technology-focused coworking spaces in the Bay Area lately, it seemed like one of these bastions of fast-moving entrepreneurial drive and energy would be the obvious choice.

But Makeshift offered a different path. Here, creative energy is driven by far more than the technological curiosity or simple desire to get to a million users ASAP which pervades the Bay Area tech community’s mindset. In Makeshift, I saw an opportunity to let a more mindful, nurturing energy infuse the formative months of Trust Labs‘ existence. After all, the creatives that a space like Makeshift serves are exactly the pioneers who are focusing on creating deeper value above and beyond the dollar economy, which also happens to be our primary focus at Trust Labs, via our experiments with community-based digital currencies.

And what a few months it’s been. I started the year working part-time out of Makeshift, with little more than lots of research and a plan to build a prototype web app for early users, likely in the Bay Area. Within weeks, a coder friend had agreed to do the hard technology work for our prototype, and we had been offered the first $5k necessary to fund building it — by The Mill, a partnership between the Work In Progress coworking space in downtown Las Vegas and Vegas Tech Fund. Although I’d long-considered launching mCred, our first experiment around redefining social capital, in Las Vegas (“if it’ll work there, it’ll work anywhere”), the Bay Area always seemed like the default choice. However, the Mill’s validation was enough to commit to soft-launching in Vegas first.

In recent weeks, we’ve taken our earliest version of an app with virtually no features beyond the ability to send and request time-based currency among members, and just a few friends local to Vegas using it, and continually improved both features and interface based on the experiences of our earliest users. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Currently, we’re up over 40 members locally, and are focused on solidifying our ability to both grow more quickly in an individual community like Vegas, and launch new instances, starting with the Bay Area. Although lately I’ve been distracted by the pressing need to raise more than five thousand dollars to fund Trust Labs’ continuing operations (wink), preparations are nevertheless underway to bring mCred to new cities! As we activate new local currencies based on trust, we build a basis for the reinvention of our economy’s broken notion of personal credit (more info here).

It will be a long road, but an important mission; my deepest appreciation to Rena, Christina, Ashley and everyone at Makeshift Society for your help in making this journey possible.


Building The Brand with Materials + Process

btb-mp For our second Building the Brand series talks, we have local company MATERIALS + PROCESS. The talk will take place on March 20th at Makeshift Society in San Francisco. MATERIALS + PROCESS is a design studio based in San Francisco founded by Christine Marcelino at the end of 2011.  What started as a platform to explore personal interests as a designer became a business through which she can share her designs with the world. At Materials + Process, we find inspiration in the elemental beauty of materials and the processes that transform their sentiment. We coax the grace and elegance of materials through craft and thoughtful deliberation, carefully honing the design of each of our products until the honest simplicity of purpose reveals itself. Our intention is to create enduring products that intimately reflect individuality and creativity, while keeping pace with a modern lifestyle. Their mission is to design and craft thoughtful, enduring products for the modern nomad and frontiersman. By recognizing essential functionality and using authentic materials, they naturally build longevity into our products. Through their work they cultivate and inspire thought through their artisanship. That philosophy is manifested in MATERIAL + PROCESS’s inaugural line of carryalls, totes, and cases. This line is crafted with vegetable-dyed leather that, with age, gets embedded with the lingering markings of your personal memories and adventures. Their designs invite you to evolve the look, feel and functionality of your product as you engage with it over time. With starting any company, there are unforeseeable challenges, especially when creating a physical product and manufacturing it. With our Building the Brand series, we look to bring you an inside peak of how brands break through the barriers they encounter and creative problem solving they tackle along the way. We asked Christine what she found to be the most challenging thing about creating their own physical products: “The most challenging aspect of starting a business is really staying focused and balanced. The design part comes easy but to build a sustainable business it takes more than just designing and making all day. I have a vision of where I want my business to be and its staying true to that vision and staying focused on the tasks that will take me there. Sometimes its the mundane stuff that keeps me at the computer all the day, it’s the meetings that take me away from making, its taking the time to fix what needs to be fixed, etc. And its all that plus balancing the time to be creative and have a life. With manufacturing, its been a challenge finding small run local domestic manufacturers that have exceptional craft and work with the materials I work with. As a small business, with limited resources its also a challenge to find the right manufacturing model for each product. It takes a lot of relationship building and learning on both ends.” mp   Christine Marcelino is a San Francisco based industrial designer. Originally from Chicago, she moved to SF for the mountains, the ocean, and the food, of course. She studied Industrial Design and Art History at University of Illinois in Champaign and in Newcastle, England at Northumbria University. During that time her interest centered on materials for innovation and sustainable practices.  Christine Marcelino has worked as a product designer in companies such as Smart Design, Pottery Barn, Marmot and Camelbak, and with product startups such as  Alite Designs and Boreas Gear. Join us this Thursday March 20th, 2014 for the Building the Brand talk at the clubhouse in Hayes Valley! Tickets can be found here!

Portrait Photography 101 Class Recap

A few Saturday’s ago, we held “Portrait Photography 101” for those interested in learning how to take better portraits of people. The class was led by  Sarah Deragon and Jesse Friedin who both specialize in natural light portrait photography.

Makeshift member Antony Courtney attended the workshop and here’s what he had to say:

I took the workshop because I enjoy photography and really wanted to learn more about both the technical and artistic side of taking photos that really capture the essence of people.  The workshop delivered on both fronts, and the instructors, Jesse and Sarah, were fantastic teachers and guides.  We learned a reasonable but not overwhelming amount about what matters most in manual settings, how to look for and set up a shot making the most of natural light, and how reflectors can be used to amplify natural light (particularly useful in cloudy San Francisco…). The workshop also covered developing rapport and interacting with subjects to get the best, most natural photos of them and avoid “the cheese factor”.  We got to solidify all of this with a half hour practical session:  we broke in to groups of 3, wandered through the colorful alleyways of Hayes Valley, and all took turns as “subject”, “photographer” and “assistant”, a process that was both informative and often amusing.  The attendees had a wide variety of experience levels, from rank amateur (me) to a few professional photographers and everything in between. I’ve really enjoyed browsing through everyone’s photos after the workshop.  Since we were all shooting basically the same subjects (each other) against many of the same backgrounds the variety of different results is fascinating, and I’ve found it helpful and informative to reflect on which of the various shots I like most and why.

And some lovely images courtesy of participants Megan, Antony, Sarah, and Cristal.



Antony Courtney                                                                         Sarah Deragon






Cristal Veronica                                                                        Megan Alderson