The best innovation is usually created when two opposing worlds crash, this is what Mary Plunkett from Made It is hoping will happen. Made It events are a series of community meetups where traditionally opposing talents, think designers and coders, are brought together to share and learn from each other over community meetups. Made It Series also showcases the work produced and helps create awareness around the projects.
Made It is made up of writer Zoë Jellicoe who inks for Liberties Press and Totally Dublin, designer Aoife Crowley (featured on Bullet) and brand creator of The Summit, Emily Carson, presenter of Totally Dublin Show on TXFM, Lucy O Sullivan a community leader, and not to forget Mary Plunkett who’s in online marketing.
We’re going to have a chat about what got the Made It Series started, what impact it hopes to have and what problems it hopes to fix.
So Mary, what got the ball rolling on Made It?
Myself and Aoife had been talking about how you hear about a lot of great ideas in Dublin that never really seem to get off the ground or reach their full potential. At the same time, we had discussed how various industries in Dublin, such as tech, design or setting up your own business are very aspirational for a lot of people, but can often seem like a closed crowd. If you’re not already part of these industries or circles, it’s hard to know how to get in. This conversation then spread to Emily, Zoe and Lucy who had been thinking of running events for young people in Dublin. From our coming together then, the idea was born.
What are you hoping to achieve out of these community meetups?
We want to see a great interaction and cross over between different industries in Dublin. I previously lived in London and Barcelona and those cities really had a sense of creativity that wasn’t limited to any particular brief or canvas. In Dublin, we seem more reluctant to engage with people outside of our immediate industry or community, be that our local area, our office space or our social sphere. We are possible a bit too shy for it. But there is so much you can learn about your own business or industry by speaking to people outside of your immediate field. The Made It events are then a good way for you to casually meet other professionals you can learn form, bounce ideas off and see speakers discuss their own experiences in an honest, proactive way.
There seems to be an explosion in cross-border love (tech – creative), the recent success of the Fumbally Exchange is a great example. Why do you think that’s coming about?
I think it is fundamentally a necessity: no one can be adept or an expert in every area of work, nor should they really be expected to. We all have our skills and our weaknesses but as an entrepreneur or for anyone starting something from scratch, it’s easy to try and do everything. Cross border collaborations though allow for of set or fresh eyes or a new approach to something. They are also a great way of learning new skills or seeing how something else works. I personally haven’t done all the things that our events and speakers will discuss, but that’s all the more opportunity to learn from them.
What advice would you give people looking to get a community going, focusing on the problems you’ve faced?
I would say the first thing is be very clear about what it is you are doing, almost like a branding exercise. Decide what it is you want to achieve within community and what your members will get out of it. On a more practical level, I think there is more ground level organisation at first than you may think, so make sure you plan for that. We were very fortunate that everyone at Bodytonic and the Twisted Pepper were with our idea, which has been a big help in terms of event management but we easily could not have been so lucky. At the same time, I would also say don’t be afraid to scope out support in a variety of different places. It’s better to ask and be told no, than not to ask at all.
We’ve noticed in Bullet and you can see it in our blog that a lot of community events are been created by women. I keep hearing people say they’re aren’t enough women in tech, but my experience/writings are contrary to that belief. Would you agree?
I don’t think I would, no. Perhaps women are better or more active in organising community events, but that also may be out of necessity. If you want to be a part of something and feel you can’t get a foot in the door, then setting up an event that facilitates this is a great way to go about it. Things like Coding Grace, where someone works from within the industry to enact change is another facet of this then just another form of this. But the reality is there is not actually a lot of drive around these communities outside of these women themselves. When we set up Made It, our aspiration was to create an event that had 50:50 male female attendance, but naturally when you run events that cater to the tech community, you are speaking to a still male-dominated group. We’re hoping that by talking about this, and engaging with these other communities, we can grow their influence and reach. So while women may be becoming increasingly visible, and that is obviously a good thing, they are still severely underrepresented in the tech community. In my opinion, for there to be a true gender balance, there needs to be more effort from the top and organisations and employer need to lead by example. This may mean driving events to encourage women to retrain or upskill to work in the tech industry in the first place, rather than just hiring a token women as vacancy arises.