April 28, 2023

Knox Suppliers for Knox Makers Resource List

I looked down at my piece of paper and read four phrases, emphasized with circles.

Giving Back. Community Over Competition. Put Good Out. Sustainability.

I had just written out my core values for the short business plan I was writing, as a part of the Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center’s Etsy Entrepreneurship Program.

I firmly believe that small business owners should take the time to think through their core values and write them out. These are the directives that guide every decision you make, whether it’s as simple as choosing where to source materials from, what projects to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to, or how to show up for your community.

This is where the idea for a Knox Suppliers for Knox Makers resource list was born.

If I wanted to successfully give back, champion community over competition, put good out, and do it all in a sustainable way, I knew I had to act with the utmost care and consideration when picking suppliers for my Etsy shop.

I started making a list of products I wanted to offer in my Etsy shop: enamel pins, custom mugs, keychains, art prints, etc., and then took to Google. A few fierce Google searches later, I realized there was no one place for Knoxville makers, of all varieties, to find local suppliers for their businesses. It was going to take a bit more effort to find local suppliers but I knew it’d be worth the time and effort.

Paying a bit more for local pays off in the long-run for all of us. There’s actual science to prove it. We all thrive — our economies, our Main Streets, our neighborhoods and communities — when local businesses are supported, patronized, and championed.

But my type A personality wanted a one-stop online shop of local suppliers, similar to The Maker City and Black Business directories. So, after a quick DM with the folks over at The Maker City, I embarked on building out an open-source resource list for all makers’ reference with their help.

I wanted to build out the list because I believe in our Maker City; I wanted to build out the list because I believe all entrepreneurs here are Made for Knoxville; I wanted to give back, champion community over competition, put good out, and do it all in a sustainable way.

The ever-growing resource list is a place to find local Knoxville-based suppliers for everything art, no matter the medium. Currently, suggestions are rolling in for product photographers, digital marketers, promotional product suppliers, professional printers, and more. If you’re a maker of anything, and have ever asked yourself — is there someone local who offers rigid mailers, shipping boxes, screenprinting, vinyl wrapping, jewelry findings, product photography flatlays, etc.? Well, this list is for you (and we need your suggestions!).

The great Leslie Knope reminds us that “No one achieves anything alone”. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely at times but I like to think of my suppliers as team-mates; and when selecting who I want on my team, I want to ask myself, who can I uplift and who do I want to co-create with? For me, you can guarantee that among a variety of adjectives to answer that question, ‘local’ will always be at the top of my list.

To view the list, click here. To make suggested additions or edits, click here.

About the Author:  Megan Cook is a moonlight hand-letterer and illustrator living in The Maker City, and is working on opening up her first Etsy shop. You can follow her on Instagram @megan_cees


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