Yesterday I was sitting at a bar, having a beer at LAX. Everyone is on their phones and the only real communication anyone seems to have is with the bartender. I tend to be just fine not striking up a conversation with a stranger or making small talk. What’s bothering me is I just spent the last 4 days fully engaged with 400 makers and strangers. Striking up conversations left and right at Craftcation, a creative business conference. It certainly helped that we all had a common thread binding us together, which is the love of craft. Whether you’ve been runing your creative business for over a decade, just starting out at your first craft fair or a craft hobbyist with no aspirations to run your own business Craftcation has something for everyone.
Now in its 6th year, Craftcation is a four-day business class and craft workshop experience located in Ventura, California. The team behind Patchwork Show and Dear Handmade Life put on this mind-blowing annual event.
I spent most of my time in the small business breakouts. Finding the sessions which spoke to me and my business’s current needs. While I took many notes, I know that all the speakers are approachable and willing to talk before, during and after the conference has ended should a question still linger. That’s another great takeaway from conferences like Craftcation, the speakers stick around and are working on their goals as well. You see many of them in the classes with you. It’s like going to the a music festival. You just watched your favorite act perform, move over to the next stage and the lead singer is right there with you watching rocking out with you to a new band. Many of the speakers and panelists have been long time attendees themselves and you can feel just how invested they are in helping you because they were once in our seats taking notes and making big plans.
What especially makes this experience unique is the amount of DIY incorporated into the content. An attendee can choose from a wide variety of craft projects. You can learn watercolor skills, explore indigo dying, enjoy leathercrafts, or crochet your way into new passions and hobbies. The DIY sessions are on a first come first serve basis. There are only a handful of spots in each class and they fill up within about 10 minutes of their postings online. Individuals can sign up to be wait listed online or the day of the workshop. If you are a busy person, like myself, you might have not had the time to sign up. My advice is to go with the flow. There are plenty of other classes to sit in on and chances are good that you could snag a spot the day of the class. Worst case scenario you grab your swimsuit and have to sit poolside for 2 hours until the next sessions start. California is the worst!
I was traveling when the class sign ups were offered but was able to add my name the day of for classes I was interested in. As fate would have it, I was able to get into a few. My favorite and new obsession is painting wooden beads. A DIY taught by Anna Joyce. This was a simple, anyone can make this kind of craft. The kinds were you can stream a whole series in 1 night kinda craft. Perhaps it was sitting down at the right table with women who were also taken in by the allure of painting balls but it was the most relaxing and enjoyable experience. Wooden beads! Who knew?
The organizers, Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell, have worked tirelessly to build something authentic. It’s no small feat. The meals offered with the ticket are held offsite and they secured school buses to shuttle folks back and forth from 1 venue to the other. They go as far as scooping out the food for us and are walking around clearing the plates before keynotes go on. You can tell they have worked hard to build a loving audience and their audience loves them for it.
Start saving and investing in your business now so you can attend in 2018!