Craftcation 2023: Event Recap and Photos

I did something at this past Craftcation Conference that I’ve never done in the 12 years since Craftcation began. This thing would not have been possible if it wasn’t for our incredible team who spent the better part of a year not just planning but innovating the way we bring Craftcation from idea to reality.

I’ll spare you a play by play of the clever things they came up with as I expect you won’t be as excited about how having a lift-gate on our truck or having one person manage all craft supplies or going digital in the pop-up shop literally changed our lives for the better. Know that this is a small sample of the smart changes that contributed to my first-time moment.

ready for the moment?

On Sunday night, after the final box was in the 30-foot truck, I joined our team on the patio of the hotel and we decided to all walk to the beach and watch the sunset. I know, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? I mean the Marriott Ventura where we hold Craftcation is only ONE block from the beach. The big deal is that we’ve never been totally wrapped up while the sun was still out and able to do the thing that we encourage our attendees to do… take a moment and appreciate the feel of the sand between your toes, take in all those serotonin-boosting negative ions from the ocean and be present. 

Some of the past Sunday nights at Craftcation for our team involved me crawling from across my hotel room from the bed to bathroom because I was literally too tired to walk, squabbles among the team, late-nights shipping boxes and a bunch of other stuff that was nothing like experiencing a beach sunset with a group of true heart-of-gold badasses who just made magic happen for 500 people. 

Yeah. I said it. Craftcation is magical.  The magic is different for everyone who attends.  For some, it may be finally getting the resources to grow their creative business into what they dream it will be. Others might experience a creative spark that shows or reminds them how important it is to transform your feelings, thoughts and ideas into something through craft and art. Thanks to our tireless presenters who share their expertise and go above and beyond. For lots of Craftcation attendees, the magic is in being in a place where weirdness is embraced, creativity is celebrated and strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

For me, the magic of Craftcation is the people....

At that table with our team on the patio of the hotel on Sunday night, I asked everyone what their “Craftcation moment” was. I loved hearing about their experiences. For me, it was the moment I saw one of our youngest attendees, a 16-year-old queer kid MJ on our crew (who is equal parts hard worker and emotional resetter with their mid-day “can I give you a hug?” chats) walking arm-in-arm with our most senior attendee (the 91 ½ year-old embroidery business owner woman Bruna who inspired me, and I’m sure many others, to keep on keeping on). I can’t imagine a place aside from Craftcation where those two folks would not just meet but connect. That is a moment that no camera captured but that will be imprinted in my mind forever. 

That’s the thing about Craftcation. It’s the people. The kind of people who make you feel less alone as a creative weirdo navigating this wild world. 

Every year at Craftcation we have a motto. This year’s motto was “Art is What You Make It”. It’s only fitting that our COO and Director of Digital, KatieMac came up with that motto since she led our amazing team* including our year-round staff, Nik V (our awesome craft manager and sponsorship manager) and LeAnndra (our dedicated event and decor director and sponsorship manager). 

In my opening speech at Craftcation, I talked about how the idea of “art is what you make it” resonated with me as an out-of-place art kid growing up into an adult who fashioned my creativity and determination into a career.  It’s not just ART that is what you make it, it’s anything in your life. Nothing truly spectacular happens without effort and care. A painting. A garden. A meal. A vacation in California with 500 people who share a common bond of creativity and community. 

THAT is the true magic of Craftcation. It’s the moment when you see two people who would have never met, who come from two VERY different backgrounds and perspectives finding a common ground and showing each other that despite it all, good people are good people.

Craftcation is the place where being your wonderful and weird self is celebrated. Where bypassing the surface stuff and diving into deep conversations is encouraged. 

Then, now and forever… art, creativity and crafting an intentional life are the things that not only bring us here but that bind us together. 

If you missed all this goodness at Craftcation 2023, save the date for  Craftcation 2024 on April 3-7. I can guarantee you that there, you’ll find your magic, whatever it is!  Join the waiting list hereEarly Bird registration opens June 15, 2023.

Love you all! 
– Nicole

*A million thank yous to our incredible event team! Thank you all for your passion and hard work!

  • Sunday White – AV manager
  • Katie Newman – Craft Manager
  • Briana Traylor – Pop-Up Shop Manager
  • Lauren Durr – Social Media Manager
  • Mary Ann Ballestero: Incredible doer of so many random things
  • Seth Stanton – Doer of whatever random tasks needed to be done
  • Jessica Griffin – Photographer

And to our Craftcation Crew, thank you for working so. Plus, thank you to our generous sponsors who are mentioned below.

Photos are courtesy of our photographer Jessica of Pacific Moxie, our social media manager Lauren, our ambassadors and yours truly!

Welcome to Craftcation

When attendees arrived at Craftcation they were greeted by our Welcome to Craftcation backdrop, featuring a design I illustrated and then printed onto a Spoonflower tablecloth that we turned into a big curtain. Upstairs, our smiling crew welcomed everyone to our registration area featuring wallpaper, tablecloths and wall hangings that I designed and printed with our presenting sponsor Spoonflower and pedestal and sign stands we created with Walnut Hollow and Handprint. Thanks to KatieMac for turning check-in digital and managing check-in and to MaryAnne who once again managed the gift bag assembly as well as helped people every chance she got. 

Gift Bag

Our gift bag sponsor JOANN provided our awesome bags that we printed with the motto of Craftcation, Art is What You Make it. The bags overflowed with goodies from our sponsors including:  Beacon Adhesives Co. Inc., Snak Club, Constant Contact, Popadelics, Golden Rule Spirits, HK Holbein Inc., JOANN Stores, Liquid I.V., My Craft Source, Replica Surfaces, Narrative Hues, NatterDoodle, One Big Happy Yarn Co, Pipsticks, Partake Foods, Replica Surfaces, Soft Flex Company, The Posh Olive, The Quarto Group, Monster & Ugly Baby, Walnut Hollow, and Women Create, plus coupons from Brigitta Dau Life Coaching, Rebecca Inkrote, My Scheduled Biz, Ganxxet, Craft Emporium, and Create Arts Online. 

Craftcation Mezzanine & Sponsor Booths

Our decor director LeAnn and I conceptualized (and LeAnn built) not just the registration decor but also some of our interactive sponsor booths including:

  • The Spoonflower Artcade where attendees could “play” a DIY cardboard video game and create pep talks for creatives, use swatches of Spoonflower peel and stick wallpaper to create an 8-bit mural, play the Stump Spoonflower game and grab stickers I designed from the Spoonflower sticker vending machines. The wallpaper and curtains both featured patterns I designed and added to my Spoonflower shop. 
  • The Spoonflower Art Gallery where attendees created their own art in blank frames on the wall featuring Spoonflower peel and stick wallpaper. 
  • The Constant Contact “office” where attendees got to know Constant Contact and snapped selfies in the bold monochrome vignettes. 
  • The One Big Happy Yarn Co. Stitch Lounge where attendees dropped in to knit, crochet and chat.

Attendees had the opportunity to get to know our sponsors Spoonflower, Walnut Hollow and Handprint, One Big Happy Yarn Co., Grant House Sewing Center featuring SVP Worldwide sewing machines, My Craft Source, Oliso and Replica Surfaces at their booths which featured giveaways, crafting, demos and more. 

Pop-Up Shop

This year, we reimagined the pop-up shop by moving it in a bigger space so that we could offer more creatives a spot. We invited attendees and presenters to apply to be featured in it and it was a huge success! Thanks to Briana our pop-up manager, Kai and Morgan who were outstanding crew members, KatieMac who made inventory and sales digital and the awesome crew who merchandised everything. 

Business Workshops and Panels

The Craftcation Business classes covered topics like branding, marketing, finance, sales, and so much more to help creatives grow their businesses. We also had panels featuring a variety of experts sharing insight into building community, scaling your business and being a neurodiverse entrepreneur. Plus, we offered Think Tanks and Office Hours where attendees got one-on-one and small group coaching. Thanks to our business workshop sponsors JOANN, Constant Contact, and plus our A/V manager Sunday.

Craft Workshops

With over 100 craft classes to choose from, Craftcation attendees had the opportunity to explore almost every craft genre including sewing, wood burning, watercolors, resin, mixed media art, glass etching, apothecary crafting, needle arts, photography, printmaking and more. Thank you to our craft workshop sponsors Bramble Berry, Handprint, Walnut Hollow, Blue Buddha Boutique, JOANN, Bobbiny, Ganxxet, Inc., Clover, Jacquard Products, Pipsticks, RYOBI, Xuron Corporation, Holbein, My Craft Source, Replica Surfaces, and One Big Happy Yarn Co. for providing supplies plus to Nik V. and Katie Newman for managing this big and chaotic department so well and to my husband Seth for running errands throughout the week. 

Dyeing Workshops

We were proud to welcome back our Dyeing Annex sponsor Dharma Trading Co. who provided lots of our dyeables, dyes and supplies. Attendees also got to use specialty dyes and supplies from Jacquard Products including their acid dyes. 

Sewing Workshops

For the 2nd year, we had three different sewing brands (each highlighted in their own room) in our Sewing Annex. We were proud to welcome SVP Worldwide and their brands Pfaff, Husqvarna Viking, Singer as well as local dealer Grant House Sewing Center. Attendees also experienced a lux ironing thanks to our iron sponsor Oliso. Our Spoonflower Fabric wall offered attendees the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of fabrics all designed by independent artists for their projects. We’d love to give a special thank you to JOANN for sponsoring Monica Tetteh’s sewing classes and to Monica for teaching extra sewing classes to make sure as many attendees as possible got to sew. 

Special Events & Activities

We kicked off Craftcation with our Happy Hour which featured a bunch of make & take crafts including these projects, DIY Nametags with Spoonflower, Totebag Flair! Customize your Craftcation Tote with Allysia Holland & Jill Bates-Moore, Möbius Ball Zipper Pull Decoration with Blue Buddha Boutique & Rebeca Mojica, and Kumihimo Friendship Bracelets with Jessie Greenberg. 

We also crowned a new champion at our Iron Craft Ventura competition (congrats to Jenny!) and thanks to our hosts Holly Marsh and Emily Benson (they were amazing!).. Thanks to JOANN for sponsoring Iron Craft this year and to Clover, Narrative Hues, Holbein, Oliso, Replica Surfaces and, Handprint, Walnut Hollow, and Create Room for providing prizes for Iron Craft and our closing ceremony. After Iron Craft we jumped right into a space-themed karaoke party hosted by Mallory Whitfield. 

Wanderings: Our Self-Guided Artwalk was finally back! Some attendees transformed their hotel rooms into incredible experiences and we all wandered through the rooms making, eating, drinking and meeting new friends. The rooms were SO creative this year including Craftiki Speakeasy, Middle School Dance, Chakra Balance and Aura Cleanse with Zen Jen Energy, Ten Keys To Creativity, Stitch About You, The Nectar Room, Toast Party!, Circus by the Sea and the JOANN and Cricut DIY T-shirt project. 

As always, our mediation and yoga classes (including yoga on the beach!) were a highlight. 

The theme of our dance party this year was A Night at the Art Museum and the costumes were… outstanding. The Fitch Family took the prize for best costume with their group outfits, each highlighting a different famous painter. 

New to Craftcation this year was:

  • The Me-made Fashion Show hosted by Marisa Lynch and Monica Tetteh which allowed attendees to show off things they made (lots of them were even created at Craftcation) and strut down a runway. 
  • Holly Marsh also hosted a casual board game night which was a great mellow alternative to the dance party. 

Special thanks to LeAnn who made sure all of these events ran smoothly. 

And, an extra special shoutout to our new social manager Lauren who jumped into a huge role right before the conference and absolutely crushed it! 

We closed out the magical week with our closing ceremony where we celebrated yet another amazing year of friendships being made, and businesses sprouting and growing.

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