Teacher Profile: Caitlin Bacher

Do you ever come across someone online and immediately realize that they are exactly the type of awesome person you can relate to? Caitlin is one of those people for me, and after being a member of her private Facebook group for a while (it’s free, go join it!), I love the work she’s doing to help creative business owners take charge and succeed. Right up my alley.

Caitlin is super-psyched to join us in a few weeks in Seattle for School House Craft (don’t you have your tickets yet?). She’s a social media maven, a bossy biz lady (I think she should trademark that phrase), and I’m just plain excited to meet her in person, even if I’m more of Red Vines kind of guy.

About Caitlin

Caitlin Bacher-Little Farm MediaCaitlin Bacher is a speaker, blogger, online course creator, and consultant for creative biz owners who want to increase sales with social media. Without any formal business training, she founded Little Farm Media in 2014 as a side project while she stayed at home with her young daughter. Within a year she grew her business to five figures a month by implementing her unique social media strategies.

Sign up for Caitlin’s newsletter at Little Farm Media and get access her Facebook group: Creative Biz Owners. This group is filled with thousands of Creative Biz Owners just like you. As a special bonus, you will receive access to a ton of digital freebies that will help you nail your social media strategy.

Caitlin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her patient husband, spirited daughter, and grumpy cat. When not helping others build their creative empires, she can be found watching BravoTV, attempting yoga, and eating Twizzlers.

Pins and Needles: Make Your Pinterest Account Work for You in 90 minutes or Less

Saturday, 3:15–4:45pm

Everyone told you that your small business should be on Pinterest. You started a business account, verified your website, and pinned all your products to a board. After an initial burst of followers, your account hasn’t seen any action. I guess your business isn’t suited for Pinterest, right? Wrong. Let’s get your account working for you. Guaranteed.

Find and Follow

Website: littlefarmmedia.com

Instagram: @caitlinbacher

Facebook: fb.me/caitlin.bacher

Twitter: @caitlinbacher

Pinterest: @caitlinbacher

Periscope: @caitlinbacher

More Information

Fall Conference Info

The Full 2015 Class Schedule

Buy Tickets

Teacher Profile: Tara Swiger

I’ve been wanting to bring Tara Swiger out to the Northwest for a few years now (ever since Maker’s Nation started), but we just couldn’t seem to make it happen for one reason or another. But School House Craft is the perfect fit, and I’m excited to bring Tara here from Johnsonville, Tennessee, to join us in a few weeks and share her knowledge with you. Naturally, I’m putting her to work—she’ll be teaching three workshops over the two days, ranging from paying yourself to building a customer path and getting things done.

About Tara

Tara SwigerTara Swiger is the author of Market Yourself, a system for creating a marketing plan for your craft business. She began her entrepreneurial journey as a yarn-maker, quit her day job in 2009 and has been teaching and writing  for handmade businesses for over 5 years. Her superpower is translating complex business principles into the language of artists and makers while creating doable Action Plans.

Tara’s taught marketing and business growth to traditional artists in rural North Carolina with the non-profit Handmade in America, to yarn shop owners at TNNA, to fiber farmers at the Camelid Conference, to makers at Craftcation and she’s taught 4 classes with CreativeLIVE.

Building Your Customer Path: Get the people who love your products to pay for them

Friday, 10:00–11:30am

As a crafter you have plenty of admirers, yet persuading someone who is interested in your work to become a paying customer is no small feat. Learn how you can create a customer path that gets people to find you, fall in love with you, and then pay for them again and again.

Pay Yourself: Find the Profit In Your Creative Business

Friday, 3:15–4:45pm

You want gorgeous, growing, beaming support from the work you love. You work hard, implement your ideas and move towards your goal. But you still wonder: How do I actually get there? To the point where I’m making money, paying myself and building something sustainable? There’s a way to pay yourself and still feel like a human. And an artist. The way you profit and remain human is simple, and Tara will show you how.

How To Get More Done: Create a Workday You Love

Saturday, 10:00–11:30am

Stop fretting over the limited number of hours in a day and get to work – the smart way! Tara will lead you to create your own simple action plan to manage your time, your business, and your family life more efficiently.

Find and Follow

Website: taraswiger.com

Instagram: @taraswiger

Facebook: fb.me/TaraSwigerPage

Twitter: @taraswiger

YouTube: blondechickenyarn

More Information

Fall Conference Info

The Full 2015 Class Schedule

Buy Tickets

Teacher Profile: Katie Hunt

As I was searching for potential keynote speakers this year, I reached out to past SHC teacher and friend, Tara Gentile. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure how Tara and Katie know each other, but when she suggested Katie, I knew right away that she’d be a great candidate. (Tara is one of those people whose recommendations are always solid.) I’m thrilled that Katie was available and willing to join us this year! Not only will she be giving the Friday morning keynote on “Finding Your Tribe and Loving Them Hard”, she’s teaching a fantastic fundamentals class on determining whether or not wholesale is the right direction for your product-based business.

About Katie

Katie Hunt Full HeadshotKatie is the founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp and owner of Kelp Designs, a Southern California based stationery studio offering greeting cards, boxed notes and other paper accessories in stores nationwide. She launched her wholesale line in 2009 and has exhibited at the National Stationery Show for 7 consecutive years.

Katie earned an MBA in marketing and finance from Loyola Marymount University and has spent the last 15 years coaching large corporations and solo entrepreneurs on marketing and business development strategies, while building Kelp Designs and Tradeshow Bootcamp. Katie is a firm believer in professional development, surrounding yourself with strong mentors / community and pushing ‘go’ even when you might not feel ready.

While in the corporate world, Katie led international marketing teams, managed annual budgets over $1.5 million, wrote and implemented more business plans than she can count and organized events. Lots of events; everything from trade shows, to international conferences, webinars for hundreds of attendees, intimate workshops, and 1-1 new business meetings.

Katie has presented at Unique CAMP,  Nearly Impossible and Academy of Handmade Artists and written articles for UpperCase Magazine and Etsy Wholesale.  Through Tradeshow Bootcamp, Katie has hosted more than 100 webinars, 6 Paper Camp conferences and spent over 200 hours providing 1-1 coaching to independent artists and small businesses.

Katie’s strengths lie in connecting people and bringing ideas to life – brainstorming, making a plan and executing. She’s a bit type-A, overly organized and has an affinity for calendars, check-lists and a love for notebooks that only stationers will understand.

She often describes Tradeshow Bootcamp as the perfect merging of her two worlds; her happy place where she can share her business expertise and knowledge with an industry and clients that she loves.

Katie has a passion for creating, a mind for business and a strong desire to help others succeed. When she’s not cheering on TSBC alums or dreaming up new workshops, you can find her spending time with her husband and three kids (5yo, 3yo and 1yo), hosting friends for dinner, or surfing Instagram.

Selling Wholesale: Is it the Next Step for My Business?

Saturday, 10:00–11:30am

While it is exciting to think about your products lining the shelves of Target or beautifully displayed in Anthropologie, making the jump to wholesale should not be taken lightly. Selling wholesale is a different ball game than working directly with end consumers therefore your approach needs to be different. This workshop will discuss what it means to sell wholesale, pricing strategies and sales tools you need to have for wholesale. We’ll walk through exercises to help you determine if wholesale is the best next step for your business. Perfect for the beginner just starting out or someone looking to take a step in this direction with their existing retail products.

Find and Follow

Website: tradeshowcamp.com

Instagram: @tradeshowcamp

Facebook: fb.me/tradeshowcamp

Twitter: @tradeshowcamp

Periscope: @tradeshowcamp

More Information

Fall Conference Info

The Full 2015 Class Schedule

Buy Tickets

Our 2015 Class Schedule is Here!

The time has come–the schedule is here! Whether you’re a fresh face on the scene or a veteran crafty business owner (or somewhere in between), we’ve worked to bring you stellar classes by expert teachers that will help you take the next steps in your business. Below you’ll find the full list of twelve classes to choose from for both days of the conference. There’s no need to pre-register for your classes, though, as there’s plenty of space in each room for everyone. Buy your early-bird two-day passes through Tuesday, September 22nd for a $20 savings on the regular ticket price.

Schedule

Friday, October 16

8:30–9:00 — Check In

9:00–9:15 — Welcome from Isaac Watson, founder of Maker’s Nation

9:15–9:45 — Keynote: Katie Hunt

9:45–10:00 — Break

10:00–11:30 — Class 1

Your Creative Canvas: Mapping Your Business at Any Stage – Jena Nesbitt

Kick things off by building your business plan and creating a roadmap in 90 minutes! Jena will use her Creative Canvas worksheets to help you define your creative vision, identify your unique value, find your unfair advantage, create your pricing process, and measure your success. Even if you’ve been in business for a few years, revisioning your canvas is a great tool to see how your business model may have changed, set new goals, or make a shift in your business.

Building Your Customer Path: Get the people who love your products to pay for them – Tara Swiger

As a crafter you have plenty of admirers, yet persuading someone who is interested in your work to become a paying customer is no small feat. Learn how you can create a customer path that gets people to find you, fall in love with you, and then pay for them again and again.

11:30–12:30 — Lunch (provided)

12:30–2:00 — Class 2

Getting the Big Picture: Product Photography Essentials for Online Sellers – Marlo Miyashiro

One of the most important selling tools you have for your online shop is the photography of your products. If they don’t look as best as they can, customers won’t be interested. Marlo will walk you through the essential concepts and approaches to product photography that will put you in the right mindset to go out and either take your own photos or hire a professional. Note: This class includes a basic overview of camera settings and focuses mainly on the creative side of product photography that will have your products looking their best.

Legalese: Understanding Contracts and Avoiding Pitfalls – Molly Maloney

Whether you like it or not, contracts and legal agreements pop up a lot in the business world. But what is a “boilerplate” clause anyway? Molly will walk through common contract terminology, types of clauses that we typically encounter, what to look for when you receive a contract from someone else, and what to keep in mind when you’re preparing a contract yourself. Most importantly, she’ll also outline a few scenarios where it might be a good idea to involve an attorney. At the end of this class you just might be itching to find a contract to review and pick apart with the knowledge you’ve just amassed!

2:00–2:15 — Break

2:15–3:00 — Round Table Sessions: Your Next Best Step – In this group activity, you’ll have a chance to make the rounds and get lightning-fast feedback with a focus on actionable next steps from experts on specific topics like social media, online selling, craft fairs and shows, etc. Think of it like an “ask me anything” for creative business but with a ticking clock keeping things lively and interesting.

3:00–3:15 — Break

3:15–4:45 — Class 3

Pay Yourself: Find the Profit In Your Creative Business – Tara Swiger

You want gorgeous, growing, beaming support from the work you love. You work hard, implement your ideas and move towards your goal. But you still wonder: How do I actually get there? To the point where I’m making money, paying myself and building something sustainable? There’s a way to pay yourself and still feel like a human. And an artist. The way you profit and remain human is simple, and Tara will show you how.

Holiday Sanity: Preparing For (and Surviving) the Retail Holiday Season – Sharon Fain

It’s that time of year again. Whether you’ve lined up back-to-back weekends of holiday markets, stocked up your online shop, or have wholesale orders begging to be filled, keeping your sanity during the holidays (not to mention a social life) is no small feat. In this class, you’ll identify what to focus on during the holidays so you maximize your profits and don’t over commit. This will be your best holiday season yet.

4:45–5:30 — Teacher Q&A: We’ll invite the day’s speakers and teachers back up in front of all the attendees for a moderated Q&A on what you learned, what lingering questions you still might have, and other fun conversation.

6:00–8:00 — Happy Hour (optional)


Saturday, October 17

8:30–9:00 — Check In

9:00–9:15 — Welcome & Announcements

9:15–9:45 — Keynote: Kim Werker

9:45–10:00 — Break

10:00–11:30 — Class 4

How To Get More Done: Create a Workday You Love – Tara Swiger

Stop fretting over the limited number of hours in a day and get to work – the smart way! Tara will lead you to create your own simple action plan to manage your time, your business, and your family life more efficiently.

Selling Wholesale: Is it the Next Step for My Business? – Katie Hunt

While it is exciting to think about your products lining the shelves of Target or beautifully displayed in Anthropologie, making the jump to wholesale should not be taken lightly. Selling wholesale is a different ball game than working directly with end consumers therefore your approach needs to be different. This workshop will discuss what it means to sell wholesale, pricing strategies and sales tools you need to have for wholesale. We’ll walk through exercises to help you determine if wholesale is the best next step for your business. Perfect for the beginner just starting out or someone looking to take a step in this direction with their existing retail products.

11:30–12:30 — Lunch

12:30–2:00 — Class 5

Line Sheets & Catalogs: Setting Yourself Up for Wholesale Success – Marlo Miyashiro

Once you’ve decided to pursue wholesale accounts, you’ll want to make sure your wholesale tool belt is armed and looking fabulous with line sheets, catalogs, and other promotional and sales materials to stay on top of the wholesale world. Learn best practices for creating both print and online catalogs and line sheets, effective wholesale order forms, and wholesale terms that work with industry standards.

Mighty Ugly: Embrace Your Creative and Business Demons and Slay Some While You’re at It – Kim Werker

We all make something ugly by accident sometimes, but we certainly try to avoid it. We try very, very hard to avoid it. Especially when we’re making for work. In this class, we’re going to make something hideous on purpose. At every turn, we’ll aim for ugliness. Why? Because for those of us used to striving for loveliness (and sale-worthiness) in everything we create, who equate ugliness with failure, it can be absolutely scary and exhilarating to set out to make something deliberately hideous, and it’s valuable to get uncomfortable sometimes. And because, though we excel at our particular craft, chances are we’re iffy about trying out things that are entirely new.

Mighty Ugly is liberating, as all the pressure of trying to create beauty and sale-worthiness disappears. And it’s meaty, because it forces us to examine our creative process, when we so often keep only the product in mind. This workshop will turn everything you thought you knew about your creativity and crafting on its head. Mighty Ugly: where failure is kinda pretty.

2:00–2:15 — Break

2:15–3:00 — No Sugarcoating Allowed: Rapid-Fire Product Review – Do you have a new product you’re getting ready to launch or something tried-and-true that you’re looking to tweak? This is your chance to show and tell amongst your peers and our panel of experts, then get super-fast, completely honest opinions on your product. Be sure to bring a sample of your work (or some well-developed concepts for something new) and a thick skin, but you’re guaranteed to walk away with invaluable advice and next steps for bringing that product to market.

3:00–3:15 — Break

3:15–4:45 — Class 6

Pins and Needles: Make Your Pinterest Account Work for You in 90 minutes or Less – Caitlin Bacher

Everyone told you that your small business should be on Pinterest. You started a business account, verified your website, and pinned all your products to a board. After an initial burst of followers, your account hasn’t seen any action. I guess your business isn’t suited for Pinterest, right? Wrong. Let’s get your account working for you. Guaranteed.

The Question Ladder: Interviewing Your Customers Without Them Knowing It – Jehn Glynn and Jena Nesbitt

The key to a successful business is knowing your customer. This class includes group brainstorming and exercises designed to create customer interview questions that yield the most insightful answers for market research, customer satisfaction, and repeat purchases. The best questions to ask are sometimes the hardest to formulate, but we will help you!

4:45–6:00 — Teacher Q&A and Craft Social: In addition to inviting the day’s speakers and teachers back up in front of all the attendees for a moderated Q&A, we’ll round out the conference with some crafty fun—several hands-on activities will be available for you to shake out those creative juices as we ruminate on what we’ve learned and what your next steps are for your business.

 

Note: Despite our best efforts to make this happen, this schedule may be subject to change at any time. Check back here for any updates or subscribe to our mailing list for any notifications.

Tickets Now on Sale for our 2015 Conference

You marked your calendars and the time has come!

Tickets for this year’s conference (October 16–17) are now on sale, and I’m offering a limited early bird discount of $20 on two-day passes through September 15. This year’s speakers and teacher lineup includes creative all-stars from the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Tennessee, and you can bet I’ll be your host for two fantastic days of business skill-building and community bonding. Check it out:

Katie Hunt, founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp

Kim Werker, author of Make It Mighty Ugly

Tara Swiger, starship captain and author of Market Yourself

Marlo Miyashiro, aka IMakeCuteStuff and organizer of Seattle Handmade

Jena Nesbitt, creative influencer and author of the Creative Canvas

Molly Maloney, an artist who moonlights as an indie business lawyer

Caitlin Bacher, bossy biz lady from Little Farm Media

and more!

Read all about them here and get your ticket before the early bird pricing ends.

I’ll be announcing the detailed class schedule and descriptions soon, but this is definitely a conference that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re just starting out with your handmade business or you’ve been at it for a while and feel like you’re on top of things, I guarantee you’ll learn something new at School House Craft that will help you thrive and flourish as a creative entrepreneur.

Will you join us? I hope so!

School House Craft is now Part of Maker’s Nation

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Maker’s Nation is officially taking the reins of School House Craft. Our goal to “school you in the business of craft” dovetails perfectly with Maker’s Nation mission to provide practical business education and community support for independent creative entrepreneurs.

Long-time School House Craft organizer Andrea Porter said of the transition, “I’m thrilled to have Isaac Watson of Maker’s Nation taking over School House Craft. Isaac is a leader of the makers community in the Pacific Northwest, is committed to it’s long term growth and prosperity and is going to organize an amazing line up of classes and educators for this year’s annual conference. I can’t wait to see what is in store for all of us!”

andreaisaacweb

Andrea Porter and Isaac Watson at 2014 Fall Conference

The conference has been produced annually in Seattle, Washington since 2010, and primarily serves craft and handmade artists, most of whom sell their works on Etsy, in local shops and fairs, and elsewhere online. We have consistently invited local, regional, and national artisans and educators to the stage and classroom to impart their experiences and offer up their expertise in the world of creative business. Past speakers include Arianne Foulks, Tara Gentile, Danae Horst, Stephen Loidolt & Shauna Alterio, Marlo Miyashiro, Kristen Rask, and Maker’s Nation own founder Isaac Watson.

Isaac’s thoughts on the move, “The Pacific Northwest has no shortage of creative energy, and is brimming with makers, dreamers, doers, and thinkers. When Andrea approached me about taking over School House Craft, I immediately knew it was the right fit for Maker’s Nation. I’ve long admired the community School House Craft has been building over the last five years, and am excited to step in and continue to serve this community for years to come!”

Maker’s Nation was founded in 2012 by Isaac Watson to provide business education, access to resources, and community support for makers of all stripes, from crafters to app developers to small-batch coffee roasters. The programs Maker’s Nation offers allow independent creative entrepreneurs to get out of their house and away from their workspace and spend quality social and professional development time with their peers. Maker’s Nation believes strongly in the power of cross-pollination and face-to-face experiences to help makers thrive in the creative economy.

Maker’s Nation is excited to produce the 2015 School House Craft conference this September in Seattle, as well as integrate it into existing educational components and possibly expand the Maker’s Nation offerings into the Seattle metropolitan area in the near future. Leading up to the September event, Maker’s Nation will host two informal Coffee Klatch meetups in the Seattle area and invite past and future attendees to get a sneak peek at what’s to come later this year. Tickets for the 2015 School House Craft conference will go on sale in July, with dates and details announced as soon as they’re confirmed.

 

Have you heard of Seattle Made?

 

seattlemade

 

I recently started working with Seattle Good Business Network, the nonprofit that is launching Seattle Made. It’s an organization I whole heartedly support and am exciting for the possibilities it will bring the made community in Seattle!

So what is Seattle Made? Seattle Made is an initiative that which will support urban manufacturers and craft producers (like you!), so that your business can grow and thrive in Seattle. The cornerstone of the program is the Seattle Made brand, which promotes the desirability of products made in Seattle, certifies that a given producer is local, and educates the public about the value of urban manufacturing to our community and economy.

Membership in Seattle Made is free for qualifying businesses. The program will include an online directory of members (live at the end of March 2015), promotional campaigns (e.g. Seattle Made Week in September), and support around things like access to affordable space and capital, workforce needs, local sourcing, and sales and distribution.

Register by March 13th to participate in launch activities, including being listed in the online directory when it goes live, and featured in product-related activities at the launch party on March 27th!

I’ll be at the party and would love to see some School House Craft folks there too!

More information and a link to register can be found here: www.seattlemade.org. 

Great Affordable Advertising

For my husbands books, Matthew Porter Art,  we don’t put tons of money into print advertising as I feel you often have to have the budget to do consistent advertising to make it effective but there is one case in which I think print advertising is really worth it – gift guides! Customers love how it’s all spelled out fo them. Yes, a kids book would indeed be the perfect gift for my four year old niece!

We are placing an ad this year for Matthew’s newest book in the City Arts Gift Guide and I think you should consider it too!

Here is what a page looked like last year….

Screenshot 2014-10-23 10.40.46

And are the details… 

The December issue of City Arts will feature a STORYBOOK GIFT GUIDE.  Our editorial team will tell the story of retail, weaving narrative throughout a series of pages featuring large, beautiful photos and descriptive paragraphs about your products.

  • Large Photos-No more than 6 products per page
  • Photography Provided-At no additional cost, we’ll handle all the dark room duties
  • Our Voice, Your Products-Our editors will take your provided text and put it in their own words, effectively endorsing your products
  • Online Kiosk-All items featured online in a slideshow format, with click-through capabilities to your website

$300 for the first item.  $250 for additional item.

Space Reservation, Item(s), and Copy are due:  November 3  (Photo shoot takes place: November 5)

Be sure to mention School House Craft when ordering.

Contact:  Joey Chapman
joeyc@cityartsmagazine.com / (206) 443-0445 x117

Or you can download these forms and get signed up!
2014 CAM Gift Guide Items Sub Form (JC) & CA_GiftGuide2014-Joey

 

 

 

5 Lessons Learned at School House Craft’s Fall Conference

By Cathy Pascual, Catshy Crafts

cupcakes-schoolhousecraft

Ever since I got back from the hallowed halls of School House Craft’s Fall Conference, my brain has been percolating with all the information and invaluable tips I’ve gathered.

It can all be a bit overwhelming after a full weekend of learning, socializing and sitting still in a classroom for hours. The potential for changing your business is huge but how do you put it into practice? How do you know where to start? Here are my top five lessons learned I took away from School House Craft.

  1. Do it together. In an enthusiastic key note address by Isaac Watson, founder of Maker’s Nation in Portland, he reminded us of this important lesson. As makers and artists, we often want to DIY our creative businesses. In other words, we want to do it all by ourselves – from designing, making, marketing, bookkeeping and shipping to all the tasks in between. But we don’t have to go at it alone. We can ask for help when we need it. And offer our help to others who need it. In that way, we can not only do it for yourself, but do it for others.

For example, do you have a friend who consistently rocks her photographs but doesn’t have the knack for marketing through social media? Are you someone who lives and breathes social media, but can’t take a decent photo? Teaming up with someone who excels where you are lacking (and vice versa) is an awesome way to improve each other’s businesses and finding a business buddy to boot.

isaac-schoolhousecraft

  1. Every “no” is one step closer to a “yes”. One of my favorite (and my very first) creative business mentor, Marlo Miyashiro, of Creative Arts Consulting, returned to School House Craft to teach a couple of information-packed wholesale classes. Although I’ve taken her classes before, each time I am at different stage of my business so different aspects jump out at me. Last year, her lesson on pricing your work so that your wholesale price is still profitable really hit home (I raised my prices shortly after that).

This time, it was all about the best way to approach stores and how to design marketing materials that reinforce your company brand and help you stand out from the crowd. It can be a daunting process that may be full of rejection but one that can mean the all the difference in growing your business. With each store you cross off your list, Marlo reminds us that you are that much closer to finding the store that is right for you.

  1. It’s good to have “ARTSY” goals. Almost everyone has probably heard of SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed goals. But Tara Reed, of ArtLicensingBlog.com, presented us with a new way for artists to set goals, which not only had clever name, but involved a color wheel! According to Tara, ARTSY goals are attainable, realistic, timed, specific and “yours” (not a goal you think you should have or that others may want for you, but a goal that you want for yourself 100%.)

marlo-schoolhousecrafts

To help us map out these ARTSY goals, Tara created the Goal Wheel for Artists. First she asks us to write down three primary dreams we have. For example, one dream shared in class was to rent a studio space outside the home. With that dream in mind, you think about goals you can set that fall into three goal categories: 1) Create goals. 2) Promote goals and 3) Recharge goals. The first two goals are probably familiar to you already. For example, a create goal could be to design a new sewing pattern to sell. A promote goal could be to pitch ideas to guest blog on other sewing blogs. Now, what it is a recharge goal? A recharge goal is a planned activity you do to keep yourself happy and healthy. A fun activity that refuels you mentally or physically. Take a nature walk. Visit an art museum. Meet up with your buddy who also owns a creative business. I think it is brilliant to set a recharge goal, because so often we forget that taking care of ourselves is an important part of being an artist.

tara-schoolhousecrafts

  1. Handmade doesn’t cut it anymore. Tara Gentile, business strategist for creatives,  made this eye-opening statement on the second day’s keynote address. What a way to start the day! Comparing the handmade market to the software market, she argued that when handmade markets entered the scene, you only had to have a successful Etsy shop to be successful. Period. In the beginning, the supply for handmade goods was dwarfed by demand. But today, you cannot just describe your items as “handmade” and be done and expect customers to flock to your shop.

Tara says, our job as makers is to increase demand for the handmade market. How do we do this? We must dig deeper and create a more meaningful message for our customers that goes beyond just being “handmade”. For example, she posed these questions: What dreams are you helping your customer fulfill? Who are you helping your customer to become? How is your small batch of handmade items making your customer’s life better? By answering these questions, you can tell a new story about your products that is unique to your brand and your customers’ needs.

taragentile-schoolhousecrafts

  1. Networking can be fun. I never thought I would ever say this, but yes, networking can be fun! And I’m not talking in the traditional sense of going to a “networking” event where oftentimes small talk with perfect strangers while balancing a drink in one hand and a plate of appetizers in the other is involved. As a shy person, I will avoid them like the plague. But School House Craft was a perfect place to network. In fact, I felt like a networked quite a bit. I chatted with the speakers, met new creatives, exchanged business cards, connected with people I had kept in touch with since the last conference. In the classroom setting, it was easier to strike up a conversation with someone who you just spent the entire day with or who you just heard share their own struggles/dreams/goals associated with having a creative business.

Screenshot 2014-10-15 20.29.31

Here are more opportunities to network at the conference:

  • Volunteer at the event (help set up before it starts or clean up after it ends.) You can get a peek behind the curtain of the event and meet the organizer.
  • Introduce yourself to the speakers and tell them what you liked about their talk.
  • Strike up a conversation with your neighbor on the lunch line or bathroom line. You’re both waiting so why not make the most of it.
  • Attend the social events sponsored by the event. I know, I know, I just said I hated those types of networking events. But despite my squeamishness for them, I actually did go to the Happy Hour at Bal Mar after the first day of conference. It’s good to have a “wingman” so grab a buddy and enjoy the free food and drinks!
  • Get crafty. After the final classes of the day, crafts and cupcakes were offered. It’s a good way to unwind and mingle while doing something, rather than just making small talk.
  • And don’t forget to thank the organizer (thanks so much Andrea!) for all her hard work.

If you attended School House Craft last month, what was your top lesson learned?

5 Lessons Learned at School House CraftCathy Pascual is an embroidery hoop artist/wreath maker/felt florist for Catshy Crafts. When she’s not creating, she can be found hunting for treasures at her favorite thrift shop, reading creative business blogs, binge-watching Netflix or spending time with her family. You can find her at catshycrafts.com.