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What I Learned Attending 2018’s Craftcation

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

By: Angela Smith of Purl & Loop

As a creative small business founder and owner, I am always searching for ways to connect and be part of a creative business tribe. This is challenging in my business’s physical geographical area (Houston, TX) as I often find artists/creative types and business folks separately, but rarely do I find a combination of both. When I do, they are pulled in a million directions just like me and finding time to connect and bounce ideas off of one another is virtually impossible. Yet, when I attend conferences, such as TNNA, I am surrounded by people who are trying to be successful in a small creative business or who are just trying to grow as artists. Regardless of the ultimate goal, we are all striving for something in the creative universe, and that feeling of camaraderie is sustenance for me… I am constantly seeking more.

Liz Gipson of Yarnworker, mentioned that she had signed up for Craftcation: Business + Makers Conference 2018 during a casual email exchange. Since Liz is a trusted friend and collaborator, I immediately researched and signed up for one of the quickly sold-out spots.  I followed my LOF (leap of faith) and CYF (cross your fingers) life strategy for trying the unknown and boy was it worth it!

Craftcation is a glorious long weekend (Wednesday–Sunday) of constant craft and creative business classes, panel discussions and loads of socializing opportunities. Almost all of these are covered by the enrollment fee. I say “almost” because I am certain there were a few opportunities that came with a reasonable cost. In the months leading up to actual event, we received information about the class sign up process and sneak peaks at the classes being offered. For me personally, I was really only interested in business-focused classes and workshops.

We eventually received access to the schedule along with tips and worksheets to help us plan our experience. The offerings are intense and incredible so planning is key, and the actual sign up and enrollment occurs about six weeks before the event and requires a special access code.  Therefore, it was very important to have your plan in place and back-ups in case the class you want is full. Luckily for me, most of the business classes were drop-in and the size was not limited.

I signed up for many classes but will focus on the ones that became real game-changers for my business. Those were:

From Adrienne, I was able to build upon my existing wholesale knowledge with new tips and ideas. For example, twice a year, I stress out for about one month solid worrying about creating a color, 4-page line sheet and having it printed at a significant cost. Adrienne suggested that oversized postcards could be a great alternative option, since people have so much paper to carry around already. Bam! A mountain of stress reduced to just a week or 2 of stress generating unique postcard creations.

I entered Mallory Whitfield’s class with some ambivalence because I did not have any clue how Pinterest pertained to me and, therefore, I did not know what I did not know. Within minutes, my brain was exploding with ideas and value recognition, along with regret regarding how I had been missing out. The number one takeaway was that Pinterest is its own search engine and by not utilizing this search engine, I was missing out on loads of opportunities. She also provided valuable information about the importance of naming your photos. I implemented her suggestions and saw the number of daily hits to my website grow exponentially.

All of my objections to social media were eliminated by Jennifer Priest in her “Social Media in 60 Minutes a Week” class. She explained how business owners can generate and schedule content, assuming it is content we ourselves created, via a social media scheduler, and explained why she uses Tailwind and showed us how it works. I learned I can use Tailwind for both Pinterest and Instagram and the system has kept my social media marketing on track. 

I recognize that I could get a lot of the information I learned from an online course or webinar from the convenience of my own home or office; however, the questions, ideas and conversations generated in a room full of people with situations similar to my own is not replicable remotely.  

If you think you’re in need of a change of scenery or new ideas, learn more about Craftcation or one of TNNA’s upcoming Winter Market

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