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Stir Season 3 Catch-Up: Mel from Industrial Jam
28th Aug

2017

Stir Season 3 Catch-Up: Mel from Industrial Jam

We sat down with Melinda Stacey, winner of the $1000 CITSA Grant from Stir Season 3 for her project, Industrial Jam, to see what’s on the horizon for her and how her participation has changed her outlook.

So it has been 2 months since Stir winners were announced…. we are interested to see what’s been brewing and what plans you have for the future.

The entire Stir experience has been a very powerful one for me, more so than I ever could have imagined. The Stir crew walked into my classroom at CIT to entice students to join, I came up with an idea, published it on the Stir website, enticed (read spammed) all my friends and family to vote, attended the Stir XP event, won the CITSA/Stir grant and was awarded $1000 for my project. This all happened over a period of just 3 weeks! Since then, I haven’t stopped either. I have experienced tremendous personal growth and learnt so much in such a short period of time that my head is spinning a little. I’m so glad I took the plunge and entered.

What is happening with Industrial Jam these days – Is it in a closet or airing out in the world?

I think the biggest lesson I have learnt is that it’s easy to come up with creative ideas… Developing and testing them to make sure they’re viable, scalable and most of all, profitable is a much more involved process – one I was not really familiar with prior to my Stir experience. To be honest, I came up with the idea for Industrial Jam quickly and in isolation. I probably should have tested it by running it by a few of the key persons it was aimed at before putting it out into the public domain. So it is currently sitting in a closet while I work on developing my skills and understanding of what it takes to get an idea off the ground.

What have you done/are doing with your $1000 prize money?

The first thing I did, was attend one of the free First Wednesday Connect sessions at the Canberra Innovation Network (CBR-IN). There I learned about their free start-up consultations. I met with Tatum at CBR-IN and she told me about their lean start-up workshop series and offered me a reduced rate to attend. She also put me in touch with the Mill House Social Enterprise Hub at UC. I’ve signed up and paid for some upcoming workshops with them too. I’ve also signed up for Innovation ACT’s free 10-week workshop series. Do you see where this is going?

I’m using a combination of free and paid opportunities to develop the skills I need to develop an idea and get it off the ground the right way. If it weren’t for Stir I wouldn’t have even known that all of these opportunities existed.

Have you found new opportunities arising from your involvement with Stir?

Absolutely. I think the hardest thing now, will be making sure I don’t spread myself too thin with the vast number of opportunities that have become available. I’m still studying and I’m a busy mum with a family to care for. With that said it has been great to see that all of these opportunities have been accommodating and flexible when it comes to my role and responsibilities as a mother. I took my son along to a CBR-IN networking event, which was not only a great experience for him, but really encouraging for me. I often struggle with trying to balance my family’s needs with my own and it’s nice to see this recognized, catered for and accepted in this space.

How has your participation with Stir contributed to your Graphic Design studies at CIT?

One of the opportunities that tied back to my original Stir idea, was to start volunteering regularly at Paper & The Works out at the Green Shed in Mitchell. I started this because Industrial Jam was a creative project that promoted sustainability. Paper and the Works intercept art and craft supplies that are otherwise destined for landfill and then redistributes them at reasonable prices (A great place for students to save money on supplies!). The proceeds of this social venture then go to support Paperworks Inc. where people from marginalized backgrounds are taught to make handmade paper products out of textile waste. I am now working with them on their branding and package design, which ties in nicely with a number of assignment briefs I have been given this semester. It’s great to have real world examples to draw from when tackling my studies and I’m helping a great cause in the process.

Are you participating in the 2017 Innovation ACT workshops? What do you hope to get out of them?

Participating, yes. Competing for the $50,000 seed funding, not this time. I have enough on my plate at the moment and there is always next year. It is a fantastic learning opportunity though – one which I would like to see more CIT students get involved in. It has been an awesome experience so far. It’s not too late to come along for the learning journey so I urge students to check out www.innovationact.org and register for their weekly workshops. It’s hard to believe that it is free.

What advice do you have for future Stir participants?

Stir offers so much. The chance to receive a $1000 micro-grant is only a small part of what the Stir experience has to offer. The Stir XP event at the end of the season was a chance to meet other participants, show off your project and attend workshops packed with valuable information and learning. Even if I hadn’t won, it would have still been worth entering just to gain access to all of that.

A little bird told us you are a super mum – how do you fit it all into your busy life with kids and study?

I won’t say it’s easy but it is definitely worth it. I have had to learn to respectfully say no and choose opportunities wisely so as not to spread myself too thin. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive husband who has been amazing at picking up the slack to allow me to pursue my interests and achieve my goals. We make a great team and there is no way I could do this without his understanding and support. Having my husband Grant and my boys Sebastian and Dominic at Stir XP when I was announced as a winner was a very proud moment for me.

What’s your driving force – What makes you zing?

I am passionate about creativity, sustainability and disability. I would like to do something that incorporates all of these things, which is why I enjoy volunteering with Paper and the Works. It ticks all the boxes for me. Plus it feeds my ongoing addiction to hunting in op shops for recycled bargains to turn into art, which you can check out at www.melindastacey.com – I make no apologies for the shameless plug since this is something that has also developed from my Stir experience and funding.

What change do you want to see in the world?

As the mother of two children with complex disability and medical issues, one of my biggest worries is whether they will be able to live and work independently as adults. But even more concerning than this is whether there will be a planet for them to live on! We need to reduce our waste and place higher value on resources like glass, paper, textiles and plastic. A lot goes into creating these resources so we shouldn’t be sending it to landfill or allowing it to clutter up our waterways and oceans, killing the animals who also inhabit Earth. We all need to take greater responsibility and do our part to ensure the future of our planet and with that, the future of our children’s children. I don’t think enough people are aware of how dire the situation will become if we don’t pay more attention to these issues. Especially since they affect each and every one of us and will continue to do so well into the future.

Find Mel on InstagramFacebook and at www.melindastacey.com.

 

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