Minnesota Makerspace’s Trevor Kruse and Chris Smith, childhood friends who had a longstanding dream of opening a business together, hope to tap into a strong do-it-yourself base, those looking for activities related to a shared experience and entrepreneurs who are starting their own business.

“We both always wanted our own business together and now it is actually happening,” Kruse said.

The Aitkin High School graduates are proposing to provide multiple avenues as a retail consignment space, an avenue for DIY classes and creation space for members -- from repurposing furniture, for example, to creating items for holiday sales. It would serve as a business incubator for the entrepreneur, a space for hobbyists to work and create, and serve as a destination for those looking for a DIY experience complete with materials, tools and instructors.

Chris Smith (left) and Trevor Kruse are the faces behind Minnesota Makerspace, one of three finalists for the 2019 Destination Downtown Business Challenge in Brainerd. The entertainment space would provide workspace and resources for do-it-yourself projects, including classes and take-home kits, and serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
Chris Smith (left) and Trevor Kruse are the faces behind Minnesota Makerspace, one of three finalists for the 2019 Destination Downtown Business Challenge in Brainerd. The entertainment space would provide workspace and resources for do-it-yourself projects, including classes and take-home kits, and serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Kruse and Smith have been friends since the third grade. The two graduated from Aitkin High School in 2011 and each followed different paths in business, giving them experience in sales, marketing, graphic arts, information technology and education.

They believe people have a desire to be able to make things with their own hands and be able to share that experience with others -- whether it’s a parent and child or friends looking for an event, or a couple on a DIY date that is paired with a restaurant meal for an experience event.

In their business plan for the Destination Downtown Business Challenge, for which they are one of three finalists, they said a “makerspace is a place that helps members and other local businesses succeed.”

The business plan describes Minnesota Makerspace as a business “that is for the community and thrives from community engagement. … We are envisioning regular, daily workshops for people that want to learn and create in a new environment. These classes could inspire customers to become members and dive deeper into their own ideas. … These experiences aren’t limited to a one time project, as members would have a constant opportunity to run their own business out of the space.”

Tapping into the popular do-it-yourself market, the Minnesota Makerspace would offer work space, classes, do-it-yourself kits, and offer a place for entrepreneurs to create, store and sell their work. Rendering courtesy of Widseth Smith Nolting
Tapping into the popular do-it-yourself market, the Minnesota Makerspace would offer work space, classes, do-it-yourself kits, and offer a place for entrepreneurs to create, store and sell their work. Rendering courtesy of Widseth Smith Nolting

Memberships would cost $100 per month, with discounts for paying annually. The two envision a beverage bar where customers would have a place to take a break between projects, socialize and perhaps wait for the 3-D printer to complete its work or for a stage in a project to be completed.

Kruse and Smith see the power in making something as a way to connect people, as well as give them an outlet to create with the tools and storage available to them that may not be an option at their home. Smith said people have a lot of great ideas, but don’t always have the means to execute it. Makerspace helps provide that opportunity. They visited other makerspace sites in their research and Kruse sees the makerspace as an attraction for those looking for a different kind of entertainment. They envision having a class related to ice fishing decor that could connect with the annual ice fishing tournament and give those not on the ice a way to make something related to it.

Other options include making wooden shelves with display space that resembles a mountain range. Other ideas include Brew and Glue nights. Their goal is to have engaging teachers to take people of all skill levels through the projects.