Christmas presents don’t need to be outsourced to the North Pole this year thanks to local artists working like elves at NextFab Wilmington, who have designed a wide selection of creative handmade holiday gifts.
The collaborative workspace allows everyone from small business owners to craft enthusiasts to hone their skills and produce handmade goods and works of art. Some are useful and most are nifty — like custom knives, cutting boards and other kitchenware, custom drums, brightly colored sidewalk chalk in the shape of donuts, cupcakes and fortune cookies, intricately-designed wooden toys, jewelry, candles and wooden candlesticks, soaps, and more.
Gift givers can find the handmade products for sale in NextFab’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide, with an assortment of home goods from nearly forty different NextFab artisans. To purchase an item, shoppers may contact makers directly using links provided directly beneath the guide.
“There are fully formed businesses that are here as well as individuals that are trying to come in and learn a couple of skills on the side,” manager Ross Stoops said.
Open to the public, NextFab welcomes shoppers looking for those last-minute gifts during regular business hours.
While the Gift Guide advertises gifts from all three NextFab locations (alongside the north and south Philadelphia locations), some goods are more local to Delaware than others.
Eric Zippe uses the Wilmington space to produce wood prints and laser engravings featuring local landmarks like the Rockford Tower. Delaware resident Desiree Marsau produces Marsau Botanicals, using the location’s incubator to produce handmade, natural soaps.
“Wilmington has always been very small business-minded,” said Stoops, commenting on Wilmington’s appeal for hosting NextFab’s current location. Stoops says NextFab not only offers the opportunity to cultivate one person’s skill set but has a larger impact by starting small businesses that grow within the community.
NextFab hosts departments for 3D Printing and Scanning, Design Software, Laser Cutting and Engraving, 2D Printing, Woodworking and Electronics. Members can utilize any and all these departments, at any of the locations.
The workspace is structured as a “gym for innovators,” offering different levels of membership for monthly fees. The space also hosts classes, from Make Your Own Rac3r Robot to Make Your Own Wooden Speaker and AVinyl Printing and Cutting.
There are about 1,200 current members among the three different locations, says Stoop, who began as a member. “Really once you start working in one of our locations, you become kind of hooked in the environment of making,” he said. “It’s so empowering being around other makers that you just want to keep going.”
Even after the buzz of the holiday season, NextFab hosts monthly happy hour events that are open to all. Usually, on the first Wednesday of the month, these gatherings give its members and potential clients the opportunity to discuss their products and processes alike. These are also special events when members showcase and sell their products.
Following the success of NextFab’s RAPID hardware accelerator program for high-tech startups at the South Philadelphia location, the company now plans to launch a program that could help people transform their hobbies and side hustles into real businesses in Delaware.
“Through this program, we’ll not only assist entrepreneurs on the business and product development side of things, but we’ll also introduce them to mentors and resource providers in the region,” said Todor Raykov who runs NextFab’s business incubation and acceleration programs across all NextFab locations. “The ultimate goal is to see more artisans and makers launch and build sustainable businesses in Delaware. By creating new jobs and opportunities for the people in the community, these entrepreneurs will help it prosper and stay healthy.”
This holiday season, NextFab’s holiday promotion offers 25 percent off your first three months of membership if you sign up before the end of the year.