Made in Knoxville
Knoxville is a Maker City
At least once a day, a visitor in Knoxville says, “I had no idea!” Their surprise may be in reference to our amazing outdoor experiences in the Urban Wilderness or the fact that we’re home to world’s largest Rubik’s cube (a gift from Hungary after the 1982 World’s Fair), but sometimes it’s about the business and industry here.
Knoxville is the home to many major corporations and manufacturing facilities, including Bush’s Beans. The most recent addition to the list is Lifetime Products - a manufacturer of water sport products popular on our lakes and rivers. This area is also home to a thriving boutique-to-mid-sized manufacturing and production community.
In 2016, Etsy chose Knoxville as one of 13 cities to host one of their first Maker City Summits. The intention was to pair, “strong municipalities that value entrepreneurship, sustainability, and responsible manufacturing with the creative and innovative spirit of the Etsy community . . . developing empowered micro-businesses, strengthened local economies, and collective commitments to change how we buy, sell and create goods.” The Summit was a huge success and returned in 2017.
So what does this mean to visitors?
This “maker mentality” produces a wealth of experiences for visitors, some unlike you’ll find anywhere else.
Take for example, Pretentious Glass Co., one of the top-selling Etsy stores in the world. Only here, in Knoxville’s historic Old City can you watch glass blowers creating and selling artisan beer glasses, the same ones you’ll find right next door at Pretentious Beer Co. Side note: the craft brew industry is another aspect of our growing Maker City.
Devoted maker spaces can be found within The Central Collective, The Hive, Modern Studio and other popular locales. Here, entrepreneurs including photographers, artists, and bakers like Dale’s Fried Pies, collaborate and create. Additionally, the artisans at Ironwood Studios work in each of their name-sake’s materials under one roof next to the collective pottery studio, Mighty Mud.
Status Serigraph, the full-service graphic design and limited-edition poster studio of Knoxville-based designer Justin Helton. Helton’s studio has been talked about on such websites as Paste Magazine, Buzzfeed and OMGposters.com. Other local businesses like Pioneer House and Striped Light manufacture printed products using antique letter press techniques.
Surprised? Don’t be. Knoxville is doing what it’s always done – utilizing its artists, artisans and manufacturers to tell the story of a genuinely creative city. Whether you tour Bush’s Beans Visitor Center just up the road in Dandridge or spend an afternoon at watching Matthew Cummings and his fellow artisans blowing glass at Pretentious Glass Co., you will come away with an appreciation for this city and its makers. Visit themakercity.org to learn more.
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