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TNNA 2017 Winter Trade Show Class Previews: Chris Bylsma

Posted By TNNA HQ, Monday, December 19, 2016

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TNNA 2017 Winter Trade Show Class Previews 

Spotlight on Chris Bylsma

Chris Bylsma

Whether you’re interested in learning technical or business skills, the TNNA NeedleArts 2017 Winter Trade Show, taking place January 21-23, 2017, in San Jose, CA, has something for everyone! Register today and choose from more than 30 classes taught by popular industry professionals. But hurry, once a class is sold out, it will no longer be available for selection. The pre-registration deadline for classes is Monday, January 9, 2017.

Today's spotlight is on classes being taught by knitting instructor Chris Bylsma! Read on below for a teaser of Chris's classes and her thoughts on the importance of education for needlearts professionals.

Chris is teaching the following classes at the 2017 Winter Trade Show:

  • Beautiful Two-Color Brioche: Learn It to Teach It

  • Best Kept Secrets of Most Successful Shops and How to Take Them Home



We asked Chris to share her insights on needlearts and business education, as well as its value to members of our industry.

TNNA HQ: Why should attendees take advantage of the education opportunities at TNNA trade shows?

Chris Bylsma (CB): You really need to take advantage and learn wherever you can. I you own a retail shop, well, nobody graduated with a degree in yarn store management. You might have a law, business, or art background, but that doesn’t mean you have the all the required skills to run a successful yarn shop. It's also an opportunity to fine tune skills. There’s so many techniques out there.

Classes offer you that opportunity to really fondle the yarn and have someone help you through those tough spots. Your customers can get yarn anywhere, but your shop should be more than a source – it should be a resource. Up your game to present your customers the best experience. That means learning to use social media, picking up the best business habits, and finding out what are other shops doing well.

TNNA HQ: Are these classes only for new or first-time business owners? Why should seasoned professional register, too?

CB: When attendees go to the show, their customers want to know and see what’s new. What did you learn? Bring back? Buy? You need to up your game to keep your customers interested and challenged.

You need to push yourself to learn a new skill to keep clientele challenged and growing. They get bored making the same scarf over and over. You can’t always do it for them – you’re not empowering them. Don’t finish for them – give them the confidence to try something new. It’s a mind game in some respects.

It also helps re-learning aspects of knitting – to go back and remember what it feels like to be a learner. It's uncomfortable and you may struggle, but we need to remind ourselves what that feels like so that when we’re working with someone new, we know how they think. It's refreshing and renewing to learn something new. You really don’t know it all.

TNNA HQ: What are you looking forward to most at the Winter Trade Show?

CBIt’s so much fun – seeing people you meet at the show, new and old. It's part of your learning experience, and it's an integral part about growing business.

TNNA HQIn one sentence (OK, maybe a few more), please describe why attendees should register for your class:

Beautiful Two-Color Brioche Learn It to Teach It (Expanding Your Expertise)

Brioche is so amazing once you learn it; it’s not as difficult as you have told yourself. I promise they’ll know it by the end of the class.

Best Kept Secrets of Most Successful Shops and How to Take Them Home (Leveraging New Tools & Technology)

It’s the basics of what makes shop work versus not work; it’s basic marketing common sense, and I have shop images from around the world that are really amazing. One thing yarn shops have going for: They don’t have a corporate parent telling them how to look or how to establish their personality and identity. Independent yarn shops get to have fun. Every yarn shop is completely different in terms of personality, décor, personnel policies, etc., and every shop has opportunity to be completely itself. But some retailers are too timid to do that or they're unaware of what makes that work.

That's the beauty of a yarn shop. You can have blackboard walls, sing operas, or do anything you want. It’s a creative playground. This class offers a chance for real discussion and the interplay of shops is really fascinating and fun, depending on who is there.


Chris Bylsma retired from a career in marketing communications and advertising to pursue her artistic passion – knitting and textureplay. She teaches workshops coast to coast for guilds, TNNA, conferences and shops and in her hometown, Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, she has her own line of knitting patterns available through retail yarn stores. Her approach to knitting is that the process and the end product should both be a joy and designs with that in mind. Chris is noted for her Crayon Box Jacket and inventive Ladder Scarf and Ladder Shawl. She encourages knitters to “color outside the lines” where it’s more fun, and to “think outside the box” (she has occasionally been accused of actually not having a box). Chris can be found online at Chris Bylsma Designs.

New this year, TNNA classes are categorized by five objectives to help you select the class that best matches your education needs. See the objectives and listing below. Sign into Attendee Registration for the complete class presenter information, fees, and materials needed.

Business Data Made Simple

Expanding Your Expertise

The Two-Way Conversation

Leveraging New Tools & Technology

Building Better Business

Learn to effectively manage cash flow, plan your marketing, and invest in your future using data you already have. Develop new skills and techniques to grow your business and increase profits.                                         Learn how to effectively engage with customers and vendors through various communications channels.  Gain insight into the latest tools and technology, including social media, photography, software, and mobile devices.  

Learn how to brand your business in this day-long education session.



Discover all the exciting education opportunities at the 2017 Winter Trade Show!

View Classes and View Teachers.

Tags:  Classes  Education  Winter Show 

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