Where We Came From & Where We’re Up To…..

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Well, we have now been in existence for almost 2 years (officially). We were registered as a CIC in mid-August 2012. The first 18 months was, how shall we say, turbulent, to say the least. It’s interesting though that some of the advice we received back in 2012 and early 2013 has been so very instrumental in our evolution so far, we even go so far as to say prophetic. The initial idea of setting up a workshop to refurbish tools for Africa is still very much part of what we are about but now built around that is a true Co-operative. Despite some who may have had difficulty with that concept to begin with, a few of whom have now left the company, we have soldiered on.

Our business model is an interesting one to say the least. The Core Company has one purpose and one purpose only, to support and fund projects. Projects run by it’s members. A colleague of mine recently came up with an interesting visual that describes how the model works: picture an up-turned umbrella; the fabric of the umbrella supports and is in turn supported by the spokes; each spoke is a project that relies on what it creates and sells to strengthen and grow. The ‘Core’ funds each project from the outset, as well as provides the framework within which all the other projects exist. The analogy falls apart from hereon in but suffice it to say, some projects will succeed whilst others will not, at least not financially. Some of course have to, otherwise what they feed back into the core will be lost and thus the core itself diminish and be unable to support the rest.

Failure of a project in MakeItWorkShop is however a moot point. As one of the founder members of UK Men’s Sheds, any and all activity be it financially successful or not, is an achievement and a focus for those engaged in it; and who knows who will join us going forward? A failing project remains as an activity that can still be re-engaged financially in the future. Nothing is lost and nothing is wasted.

Projects can be in-effect viewed as small business in their own right. Each keeps account of it’s own finances and each is responsible for it’s own development (or lack of it!). Each project feeds 1/3rd of it’s proceeds back into the core that supports it. And, projects can of course interact, and do, to develop joint ideas to the mutual benefit of both the core, and each other.

Well, that’s the theory.

We’ve taken a big hit of late, financially. After our first ‘turbulent’ year, it’s like starting over. But we are still very much here and very much alive. We have taken on-board some pretty amazing people of late and our future truly is in our own hands (well, more or less anyhow πŸ™‚

So what have we achieved so far?

Take a look at the ‘What’s Next‘ tab at the top of the page…..

  • We’ve been fixing things for people for some time now. It’s the small stuff that counts: a new lead on a phone, a record deck needs a new stylus, a tape recorder with a broken connector, a minor watch or clock repair that doesn’t have to cost the earth. if we can’t fix it, it costs nothing and it costs nothing to try. At MakeItWorkShop, time is NOT money. Time IS learning, and we learn fast!
  • Micro-shops – Each project IS a micro-shop, a business within a business. We work for ourselves, together for the benefit of all, and we care about each other because each project’s success is success for the whole. If this sounds fanciful, it isn’t because it is what we are doing and, we don’t know if it will work but we will keep trying.
  • The Sewing and knitting machine project has languished for a while but it looks like it will be off the ground again soon. So, if you need a machine repairing, let us know, and we will do our best.
  • The MIWS Charity Craft Centre hosting the Byng & Buy project opens Monday 23rd June in 18 Cambridge Walks, wherein 7 amazing people will begin work raising funds for the Royal British Legion, Byng House. Headed up by Lynn, and as part of the main Crafts Project run by Lisa, they will be working to raise funds for their chosen charity AND for MakeItWorkShop so that we may continue to support their efforts and they in turn ours.
  • Haberdashery is already available in the main shop but the plan is to re-locate this type of item into the Charity Craft Centre AND to introduce clothing, which is a first for MIWS (think it was because we had too many men!).
  • And furniture: From Monday, MIWS will have three shops open in the Walk: the Main shop, the Furniture shop and the Charity Craft shop. The temporary loss of the furniture re-use project at the end of last year was admittedly a huge blow, but true to our word, we don’t give up easily. The Furniture Shop has now been re-opened and the project producing stock for that shop up and running again. It’ll be a slow start but it’s beginning to come together again, thanks to the efforts of a few people and some real hard work and dedication. Come take a look and you will be pleasantly surprised πŸ™‚
  • The idea of developing a museum-like exhibit has really already come about. Most people who walk into the main shop wonder if the stuff in there really is ‘just for show’ rather than ‘for sale! It’s a special shop. A unique shop. And, above all, simply an interesting place to visit and walk around.

And, there’s more but we shall leave that for a future post…..

So, we really have, as a team, achieved a tremendous amount in our short time together. Come and visit us. Come and be part of us. Invest in us and we will, in our turn, invest in you, SOUTHPORT!

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