CW Interview: Kate Sofis
See below for an interview with Kate Sofis, founding Executive Director of SFMade, interviewed by Steve Dubb, Research Director of The Democracy Collaborative.
Kate Sofis is Founding Executive Director of SFMade, a non-profit organization launched in 2010 to support the building of a local manufacturing base in San Francisco. SFMade engages directly with entrepreneurs and growing small companies, all of who are headquartered in and manufacture in San Francisco, offering industry-specific education, networking opportunities,branding and marketing assistance, and “infrastructure” support, including help with workforce/ hiring, accessing capital, and finding industrial real estate. By building strong local manufacturing companies, SFMade aims to sustain and create job opportunities for the city’s low-income communities and individuals with less typical education, experience, or skills.
Steve Dubb: Could you talk about your background and how it informed the start of SFMade?
Kate Sofis: SFMade is very much a fruition of several threads of passion that I have had really through my life: manufacturing, economic development around entrepreneurship, and urban issues. I started my career in high-tech manufacturing in Boston and spent over a decade in that field. When that off-shored, I was determined to continue to work in domestic manufacturing and shifted my focus to more “craft-based” industries—working in ceramic tile and then furniture manufacturing. Along that path I also developed a growing interest in how ecologies of companies work together. The last manufacturer I worked for, a furniture manufacturer, succumbed to the “dot-com recession” in 2001. I remember being somewhat incredulous at the time that, although we still had orders on the books and a viable company, in the end we had to close because we lost access to critical “infrastructure,” including capital.
See below for the rest of the interview.