The Made by Few conference for "makers of the web," going on this weekend at Argenta Community Theater, is one of the largest of its kind in the area. In its third year, Made by Few sold out a day earlier than it has the past two years and welcomes approximately 200 attendees to the North Little Rock theater space Aug. 22-23.
The conference started as a one-day event with a handful of speakers.”We all just really wanted to do a full conference,” says Abbi Siler, who has handled public relations and marketing for the event for several years. “A design and development conference that got all our tiers together in one room so that we could cooperate and share ideas and also learn from experts in the field.”
Now, the conference takes place over two days packed with speakers. Organizers sees the conference as a way to get a lot of colleagues together and foster a breeding ground of ideas for the year ahead.
“We like to call ours the anti-conference.” Siler says. “You’re not gonna come and be bored to death. Our speakers are usually really innovative guys. Not only have they done incredible things in their careers, but they’ve also do a lot of side projects. They’re really creative.”
Although the conference is focused on design and most of the attendees are designers in the digital realm, that’s not the only draw of the conference. Attendance seems to include people from different walks of life.
“It’s not all techy,” Siler says. “We actually have entrepeneurs that have never built a website or mobile app that come and listen to speakers and get something out of it that’s just for them, too.”
Another aspect that appeals to a broader audience is the conference’s approach to new designers. There isn’t an exclusive element to the knowledge Made by Few endeavors to share. Instead, the inclusion of new designers is a driving force for the conference. Design experts come to the conference to teach.
“For example, James Victore, he’s a really well-known and loved designer in our industry,” Siler says. "He has these classes that you can take on Skillshare and he also does these YouTube weekly webinar things where you can tune in. It’s called ‘Burning Questions.’ He’s definitely got that mindset of helping people be better designers.”
The conference's organizers also make a point to give back to the community. Since last year, the conference has included a competition called Designed by Few. From applications, three designers are chosen to work on a project for a nonprofit or business in need. Local shelter for the working homeless Our House is the beneficiary this year. The designers work on a campaign for the company.
“[It’s] really neat,” Siler says, “because people don’t really get to hear about all of the amazing things that local nonprofits do in our community. So, this is going to be a really great way to hear from them and then also be able to help them with their marketing and branding.”
Though the conference is useful to people on a professional level, it also serves as a social gathering. Since Made by Few began, networking has allowed organizers to treat the conference as a reunion of sorts.
"There’s a lot of different industries in Arkansas,” Siler says, “but the design and technology industry is so wide open that we want new people. We want it to grow. So if you’re a new designer or new developer and you come to Made by Few, you’re going to meet so many people. They’re gonna give you so much feedback and they’re gonna encourage you. And then, a lot of times you’ll start working on projects together or end up at the same meetups and things like that. So, it’s a really great way to connect with new people and also become a part of our community.
“You know, this event becomes something that everybody looks forward to every year. Which makes the event really special because everyone gets to see each other. It makes the energy at the conference really special.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the order in which Made by Few and Few the agency were founded. In addition, Abbi Siler's role in the conference was incorrect.