“I had a vision of creating a place where people could come to create together, where they could find inspiration and advice and create a community of makers.” says Sarah Landis, founder of MKR LAB. Located in Lewisboro, kids and adults can take cool classes like robotics, coding, graphic design and engineering. Read on to learn more about MKR LAB and its founder below:
Interview with Meet Sarah Landis, Founder of MKR LAB
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in your town?
I grew up in New Jersey, about an hour from NYC. Before moving to Northern Westchester I lived in Baltimore, Valencia, Spain, NYC, Hong Kong, where I met my husband, and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Lewisboro has been home for the past 14 years.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People seem to know one part of me, depending on how I know them. Some know me as the owner of MKR LAB and a STEAM teacher. Others know me as a yogi who loves to play on the mat and stand on her head. A couple years ago I took up the double bass and I play in the Westchester Amateur Musicians Orchestra. But perhaps the thing that the fewest people know about me is that I am a mermaid, among a family of merpeople. This is surprising because I live in the woods and don’t get to dip into the salty sea often enough, but I love snorkeling in the ocean and have swum with whale sharks and nurse sharks. My dad is a SCUBA instructor who has certified my husband and oldest 2 children and we’re trying to find some time together somewhere warm so he can certify me.
Tell us more about your business?
MKR LAB, pronounced Maker Lab, offers STEAM classes like robotics, coding, graphic design and engineering, to children and adults and is a community resource for project ideas, help and components during our Open Lab sessions. I had a vision of creating a place where people could come to create together, where they could find inspiration and advice and create a community of makers.
How did you go about starting your business?
I launched several workshops and a mini physics camp last year at an event space in Cross River, while I pursued a zoning change to allow me to open in our current space in the former Lewisboro Elementary School. I started as a Benefit Corporation (a corporation with a specific social benefit, in our case STEAM education) and I’m in the process of becoming a nonprofit so that I can more easily partner with libraries, other nonprofits and access grants and donations. I want to become a bigger resource for the community: I’d love to build a wood shop, maybe a metal shop too, buy a serious laser cutter, a CNC router and other tools and create a fabrication lab, AKA Fab Lab, for members to use.
How are you trying to reach moms in the community?
Our outreach is very organic, largely by word of mouth, local parents groups on Facebook and also via Instagram. Occasionally we get some local press coverage and bit by bit people are finding us. Advertising is expensive and we’ve been bootstrapping MKR LAB so we have a very limited budget, dedicated mostly to developing educational content and investing in our materials and resources. We really appreciate every personal recommendation we get!
What are some of the challenges you face as a mom and business owner?
Right there in your question you take note of the dual roles I inhabit, and at times they can be in conflict. This is something all working moms must face. How do you get dinner on the table when you’re rolling in the door at 6:15 and running out again 20 minutes later? Well, last night my high school sophomore totally stepped up and cooked us all a wonderful dinner while I finished up at MKR LAB. We all had dinner together before I ran out for my orchestra rehearsal. It’s a very good thing to give kids real opportunities to take on responsibility and to acknowledge them. I’m lucky to have two teens at home, as well as a very competent 9-year old.
But it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. This idea that we can have it all is a fallacy. All too often women will sacrifice themselves in order to be successful and to play the role they think they should as a mother too. I try to catch myself when I begin to go down that path and make sure I keep doing my own yoga practice, and to do small things that feed me, like playing my bass. That said, I spent all of last Sunday (following International Women’s Day) deep cleaning my house and doing laundry. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
What are some of your favorite me time things to do in your area?
Perhaps the best thing about Lewisboro is our outdoor space. I love to hike in our nature preserves and sometimes help the Lewisboro Land Trust with trail maintenance. I also love to kayak, whether it’s in one of our lakes or on the Hudson. I’m a certified yoga teacher and have a solid home practice, but taking a class at a local studio is always a treat. I’m looking forward to checking out the new SoSa Yoga studio in South Salem. I also really enjoy readings at the Hudson Valley Writers Association and the Katonah Village Library is putting out some great adult events too.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your child in your area?
MKR LAB classes, of course! Seriously, both our girls take our classes and our son taught a custom PC-building workshop. When the weather’s nice, I’m happiest when I can get the whole family and our 2 dogs out for a hike. Yes, I really appreciate the power of tech, but we need balance in life and that includes simple time outdoors together. And with our oldest child heading off to college in the fall, I really treasure family time.