in early September, i headed down to D.C. to spend a day with the ladies of Hellocraft, a non-profit “dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement.” the annual event is held in a different city each year and i was fortunate enough to be a) available that day and b) living close enough that i could drive there!
this year’s Summit of Awesome was a one day event held at Fab Lab DC, a small studio/fabrication lab space with the perfect amount of space for all who attended i arrived with enough time to enjoy the community craft table. actually, i think everyone who attended spent every free moment at the community craft table making buttons, sewing plush, playing with Washi tape, and more. here’s what i came home with:
. . . so now i’m basically dying for a button maker at home and stocked myself up on Washi tape. they also gave out little Moleskins to jot notes during each session. the stamped house on the front of my notebook was created by none other than my neighbor at this year’s Art Star Craft Bazaar- small world! check out Gioconda Padovan’s etsy shop here!
anyhow, after a brief intro, we split into groups to spend the day listening to 4 different topical sessions, as well as a keynote speaker at lunch. i’ll summarize some of the helpful information i took away from each session:
Own Your Awesome with Kelly Rand
Kelly is one of the founders of Hellocraft and also just became a published author with the release of the book Handmade to Sell. her session was basically a pep-talk for female crafters (not to diss you male makers out there, but the Summit was comprised of mostly women). she made a lot of good points- ideas that should be common sense, but when you’re stuck, they’re not so obvious. here’s a couple of phrases/notes i jotted down to pump me up and remind me why i’m plugging along and doing what i do:
- every interaction is an opportunity.
- don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- don’t downplay your craft- think about all that goes into your work! what about the choices, schooling, organization, time, and everything else that goes in to everything you do?
- “success” is different for everyone; also, there is always more to an overnight success story than meets the eye.
Craftnote Speaker: Stephen Fraser, co-founder of Spoonflower
Stephen came armed with a powerpoint presentation about the humble beginnings of the website spoonflower. it really was an interesting story- the founders really knew nothing about fabric, but had experience with online platforms from their jobs at lulu.com. they discovered there was a demand for custom printed fabric and voila! they built a site to meet that demand. he spoke about their history, their current products, and future ventures. he also showcased some popular designers on the site and how social the site can be with weekly themed contests. pretty cool stuff! i came home with a great spoonflower swatch sample- i can’t wait to place an order!
Finance 101: The Basics for Crafts with Jennifer Dunn of Outright
outright.com- i am SO glad i found out about this site. it seriously came at the exact time i needed to- i’d been tossing around the idea of buying Quickbooks, but really wasn’t sure how to use it. Excel was getting too jumbled and difficult for me to keep up. along came the information about this site and i am PUMPED. it is a free bookkeeping website that syncs with your etsy, ebay, paypal, etc. and compiles all your information in one easy to use dashboard. Jennifer’s talk was exactly what i was hoping to find at the Summit and it really made the entire trip worth it for me. i have her contact info if anyone is looking for more information about the site. i also received a tip that this website is great for tax advice for small business. outright is really just the software to organize it all, not your personal accountant.
What’s the Deal? New Wholesale Opportunities with Tina Seamonster
another interesting and relevant talk- i had just received an email from uncovet.com two weeks prior and i wasn’t sure how to approach it. i knew i wanted to participate, but thought i needed more time. after listening to Tina’s talk, i said to myself “wtf am i waiting for?” and got rolling on my uncovet sale- i am so glad i did! anyhow, one piece of advice she had was- if the opportunity is worth it, say yes, then figure out how to get it done! seriously though- the opportunity (or one like it) may never surface again. she also gave a thorough and honest depiction of how to calculate proper costs for items. i really appreciated her candid talk about her trials and tribulations. check out her work on her fab website!
Email Me, Maybe? with Amy Ellis of MailChimp
i’ve never been a fan of email lists, so this session wasn’t my first choice. however, after seeing all that MailChimp is capable of with statistics and email layouts, i’m a convert and can’t wait to send my first newsletter to my humble, but growing, email list! Amy not only works for MailChimp, but runs her own newsletter for a club she belongs to, so she had plenty of insight on how to read your stats and keep customers engaged with your content.
the class of 2012
it was a challenge getting there (oh yeah, did i mention my car’s transmission died in Baltimore on the Friday night before the Summit?) but it was worth it to me. i talk to many vendors at shows, but rarely do i get to chat with anyone about these nitty-gritty details. i feel more confident with my business and the Summit really helped me get excited again about what i’m doing! here’s hoping i’ll be able to make my art/craft business my full-time career one day. thanks so much to Kelly, Sara, & Christine for the post-Summit drinks at Meridian Pint! here’s hoping i see you ladies either at next year’s Summit or at Crafty Bastards!
i’ll leave you with two photos- here’s my Escort, dead on the U-Haul we towed it home with:
. . . and me with my new-to-me ride! so much more room- i love it!
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