Small Business Saturday Guide

small biz guideq

With Black Friday and the holidays at our doorstep- it can be easy to get caught up in all of the sales at the larger chain stores. Take a step back and look at who you may know in your circles and community that can offer just the things you want or need. They may not mark their products down to next-to-nothing, but their products are handmade, of the highest quality, and most importantly, made with love.

We wanted to share of favorite makers and small business owners within Makeshift and our community. Whether that be online, in their shop, or utilizing their services they offer, we want to support the makeshi(f)ters out there. We will be continuing to update the Small Business Guide post with local shops and events that are taking place over the holiday season, so be sure to check back!

This holiday season, join us in #shopsmall & #shoplocal!

Happy Holidays!


Hello from Nicole!


Hi everyone, I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Nicole, I recently joined the MSS family as your friendly desk concierge and will be in a few days out of the week. When I’m not at Makeshift I enjoy exploring the city, as I am new to it, along with spending time with my cats, dog, and guinea pig. I look forward to meeting all of our members and hope to catch you on your days in the office.

HOW Design magazine feature

HOW Design sat down with Rena & Bryan to discuss what separates Makeshift Society from other coworking spaces.


“Makeshifters don’t have to be any one kind of person, but they have to recognize that fact in themselves and in others. Sometimes you just need to do your own work quietly. Other times you need to bug your tablemate and ask for their opinion. And occasionally, you just need to fetch coffee with someone or share your power adapter or watch a cat video. Every day at Makeshift is different and an ideal member enjoys that.” – Rena Tom

Thanks HOW Design!

MSS SF Residency Recap- Kiffanie Stahle

For the past five years I’ve been dreaming about the artist’s JD. During that time my daydreams have wildly varied. I’ve imagined everything from a workshop/event space that also hosts drop-in lawyer office hours to a simple blog.

However thanks to Makeshift Society’s residency program, I’ve got a vision and plan for the project. I can’t thank Rena enough for believing in my idea and for all of your kind words and support these past few months!

I will admit I was over ambitious when I crafted my residency proposal. I’ve crossed off some of my deliverables including the survey that many of you filled out (thanks again!) and one-on-one/small group meetings discussing your current legal business struggles. Others including branding elements are in the works.

The rest however, probably won’t ever get accomplished. Why you ask? The survey and meetings taught me that I was headed down the wrong path. I was trying to create something you didn’t really want or need.

So after listening to your input the project pivoted. I’m really excited about this pivot for two reasons.

The first reason is that this new model actually addresses the questions that you asked over and over again. It’s providing you the materials that you want in a way that you’ve told me you want them. It’s putting you first, not me.

The second reason is that I love teaching and this model requires me to focus on it! I get all nerdy and excited talking about something that seems overwhelming and complex and breaking it down. I love making abstract concepts concrete with real world examples, translating legalese into plain English, and sending you off with simple action steps you can take in your business.

Because I listened to the *amazing* feedback I got from you, the current model involves two parts:

Simple, straightforward legal tips on the blog. Each week the artist’s JD blog will give you information on different legal aspects of your creative business. You’ve told me you have lots of questions about LLCs, contracts, copyright, trademark, licensing, website disclaimers, and how to keep your email newsletter legit. I will be crafting my editorial calendar for the next year solely around the questions that you asked me during my MSS residency.

Online and in-person workshops. Many of you told me that you like the idea of self-study materials but know that you’ll read them and never apply them. That’s a big waste of your time and money. What I heard from you was that a more structured format would result in action. But only if paired with action items and a plan of attack. Because knowledge without action is useless, I’m working on finalizing my first workshops. The logistics are still being worked out, but the course will help protect your business and open the door to new business opportunities all by taking the simple step of forming a LLC.

I’m really excited about where things are headed and the direction that you have given the project. If you are interested in staying in the loop, you can join my mailing list here.

Thanks again to the entire Makeshift Society community for all your thoughts, insights, support, and questions my project will be a million times better because of you.


photo credit: Portraits To The People 


We’ve got an Insulation Installation

The horizon on summer 2014 is in sight, which means the season’s projects are coming to fruition. This week we had an opening party for The Foam Agency’s (TFA) project at Makeshift Brooklyn, which was completed by Elisa Werbler and Lucy Knops as the focus of their residency this summer.

Watch the making of the wall, then I’ll explain what it is.

That’s what you get when you go around to lots of architecture and design offices and ask them for the scraps in their model shops. Many offices use rigid insulation foam, a material meant for the inside of walls, as a quick way to make models. With a hot wire, it cuts like butter — slightly toxic butter!


Armed with bags and bags of scraps, the TFA assembled the pieces inside the wall of our conference room to create something of a neo-stained glass. The effect is gorgeous, with dappled light filtering through. Plus the pieces themselves tell the story of the design process inside all of the offices that contributed.

Here’s before:


And after:



The TFA also made a small newspaper that explains the process and includes an excellent map of all of the contributions. You can pick one up by visiting us at 55 Hope Street in Brooklyn.

photo 4 photo 5

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the project and what it means to us:

Tuck into a bar or cafe in Brooklyn and one is likely to find the walls artfully covered with strips of rusticated wood and patinated metal. This familiar tableaux was the aesthetic of the early 21st century—a comfortable nostalgia guiding you back to a time before we waged wars against non-state agents, before our beloved phones were turned into surveillance devices, before we found out precisely how much we have messed up our planet’s ecosystem.

In the thematic environments of prohibition speakeasies, art deco bakeries, and nineties norm core cafes, we live our thoroughly contemporary lives. We fight the fear of missing out by hanging one more brass light fixture, reviving one more recipe previously lost to history. Nothing is missed because everything can be replayed. It’s all so comfortable.

Our devices have finally been ridded of skeuomorphic interfaces, but the spaces we inhabit cling to the idea of being faux-miliar. The city of today is no longer constructed outright, but is reassembled from memories, filtered through movies, and built with whatever can be claimed to be reclaimed. The Insulation Installation invites you to live in an adjacent world.

Here the materials are also recycled, but from processes rather than heritage. The Foam Agency, led by Lucy Knops and Elisa Werbler, has canvassed the city’s architectural, industrial design, and fabrication studios to collect offcuts and scraps from rigid insulation foam. These pieces, the discarded siblings of models and mockups produced by participating studios, formed the raw material of a permanent installation at Makeshift Society Brooklyn.

Rigid insulation foam is one of the quiet heroes of modern construction. Behind building facades and inside walls, it works relentlessly to prevent drafts and keep moisture at bay. Artists and designers have adopted this incredible material as a tool for expressing their ideas because of its low cost and high flexibility. From beautifully articulated, hand-crafted models to full scale architectural mock-ups, rigid foam has become an integral part of the making process.

In the Insulation Installation foam is restored to its natural habitat—the cavity of a wall—where the many scraps come together to form a single texture visible through polycarbonate cladding. Evident in the irregular shapes, and gaps between them, are traces of this particular city’s intellectual production at this particular time. What’s actually on display is the exploratory thought process of the participating offices. Foam is just the medium.

This project makes playful references, but does not go so far as to import dusty tropes from history. It’s an unassuming interpretation of the heavy stone walls at Herzog & De Meuron’s Dominus Winery (itself a modernization of Roman gabion construction). It’s a legitimate reuse of toxic trash, but resists being greenwash propaganda. The completed wall is confetti in slow motion; a celebration of long hours hunched over the hot-wire cutter making, making, making.

The world of the Insulation Installation is one where history is present, but not a crutch. There’s nothing to miss out on, because everything’s here, right now, all around us. We’re responsible for making it happen. This is a speck of a reminder: history may be inescapable but the walls, buildings, and streets that we have are the ones that we claim for ourselves.

The residency program is open to anyone who has a great idea for a project (but please read the criteria closely). And of course you’re welcome to book our conference room by the hour if your having foam-o.

Please join us on August 28 for the monthly mixer, and the opening of another residency project, this one by Gina Furnari.