Townsville Made: the brand that could change our city

Pip Earl (PipSilk), Haley Rowan, Kelley Roy, Julie Johnson (JuleDee Designs) and Naa Shormey Pretzsch (Bobel the Label) at Textile Collective by Emerging Designers, Castletown.

Townsville makers were given the chance to collaborate and learn from industry professionals this morning, in a forum that focused on getting local producers into the global market.

The Townsville Makers Forum 2017 featured talks from presenters addressing their stories of success and opportunities, facilitated a greater ideas exchange, and allowed attendees to interact, explore, learn and build relationships.

Guest presenter Kelley Roy is the Founder of ADX and Portland Made, organisations that have grown the Portland maker movement over the past six years and given the creative and innovative industries new life.

“I’ve lived in Portland for 20 years so have seen it change a lot over that time. But in just the last six years … I’ve really seen a lot of these industry sectors scale up and grow and become the backbone of the Portland economy. When I first started ADX we were still in a recession. I’ve recently written a book about our food cart scene which looked at this recession, and how our food carts – and wider makers community – grew and developed because people were getting laid off from their jobs and looking for ways to support themselves. So they get really creative and entrepreneurial,” Kelley said.

“A lot of them have special recipes from grandma, or have a favourite style of food that they put a twist on, and food carts have a much lower barrier than a brick and mortar store. A lot of home brewers too were taking their brews to the next level and craft brewing – and now these carts, craft brewing and distilled spirits are a huge part of our economy.

“None of these industries are new to the area, they’ve always been there. But due to the recession laying a lot of people off, it put them in positions where they then didn’t go back to look for a job: they became their own business and moved the focus to growing their own company.”

Kelley said the potential exists for Townsville makers and creatives to collaborate and form a united brand to showcase their products on a global scale.

“I really think it’s up to the people working in these industries to come together and be a creative force collectively. Everyone, from designers to musicians, struggle with similar things, so there’s a lot in common.

“But when you’re doing things like the [Townsville] Fashion Festival you need all of these creative industries: photographers, designers, music, and everything. So there’s opportunities to cross-promote each other and build the local brand: so it’s about focusing on what the Townsville Made brand means, looks like, who’s involved, and how you use it to grow your local economy.

“All the pieces are here, it’s just a matter of weaving them together. You might find there’s a few gaps, whether it’s venues or something else, but identifying those and working together to fill those gaps is really the bigger-picture strategy.”

Innovation and Business Advisory Group Chair for the Townsville City Council, Cr Maurie Soars, said people don’t realise the scope of the creative industries, or the potential for it locally.

“The Makers Forum is a collection of all the creative industries, which I don’t think people realise the scope of: it’s everything from your photographers, architects, writers, performing artists, TV producers, and everything in between.

“We tend to be very independent up here, so I think we need to grow something that’s uniquely Townsville. If we try and follow what works in other areas, I know the basics would follow through but we need our own unique program where people who visit here will recognise that it denotes Townsville as something different to Brisbane, Toowoomba, Melbourne or other parts of the world.

“At the end of the day, these people create amazing things but we then have to move it to the next level where there’s an economic value out of it – for them and for the community.”


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