A WORD FROM NICOLE...
After eight years, you’d think I’d be used our Craftcation Conference by now. But, I’m not. Every single Craftcation since that first one in 2012 has been incredibly memorable but each for different reasons. If I picked one word to describe each Craftcation (almost impossible), they’d all be different. The first was all about tears (some fueled by joy, some by epiphanies and some of pure exhaustion). In 2017, it was all about magic – there was this feeling that magic moments of creativity and connection were everywhere. This past Craftcation I felt a togetherness that’s still, a month later, giving me emotional goosebumps as if I’m back in 2012 experiencing the inspiration and community that fills my life once every spring in Ventura for the very first time.
Since I spend most of my time at Craftcation working behind the scenes, I don’t get to experience the same magic that attendees do. I’ll get snippets here and there – it floors me every time I see a group of people who just met sharing laughs and intimate conversations the way I do on my annual girls trip with my high school besties or when I see an attendee furiously taking notes in a business class because she’s having a revelation that’s going to revolutionize her business or when I catch someone finally breaking through their fear and letting their creative juices flow.
But this year, I got more than just snippets, I got full blown moments where I was present and bearing witness to the life-changing stuff I hear attendees talk about.
The first moment was before Craftcation even started when we were in deep prep mode – unloading the U-Haul, moving and unpacking hundreds of boxes, installing tons of handmade decor etc. Our crew was made up of staff, volunteers and even some attendees and we were all taking a lunch break. The conversation was flowing and open and honest as if we’d known each other years when the truth was, some of us had just met and didn’t even know each other’s names. We ended up hitting two of the four major topics that are usually taboo to talk about in many social situations: sex and religion (we didn’t hit money or politics). I looked on as the women sitting around me shared their thoughts in a way that told me that they felt safe. Anyone could see that we came from different backgrounds – it was like a crafty 2019 all ages version of The Breakfast Club but condensed into a quick lunch where we scarfed down cheeseburgers and listened to each other without judgement. That moment reminded me of one of my favorite characteristics of a Craftcation attendee – an open mind and heart. Open to meeting new people, hearing new perspectives, learning new things. And, it set the tone for the rest of my week.
I also sat in on a business class for the first time in the history of Craftcation. I turned my ringer off on my phone, knowing that our operations manager Spaulding and the rest of our staff were ready and able to brave any storm (thank you to them), and listened as presenter Lela Barker broke down the tenets of excellent branding. The example she gave us coupled with the way she presented it brought me to tears. Yes! I cried while she read the about page on a website for an apothecary brand! Then, she used Dear Handmade Life as an example and told me what we could be doing better. I actually volunteered to be her guinea pig, was SO grateful to have been chosen and I know the things she said will lead to a revolution of the Dear Handmade Life brand in a way that I knew was possible but couldn’t name – like waking from a dream that’s impossible to explain because you can only remember snapshots. In fact, the bits of wisdom she shared in that class led me to sign up for one of her one-on-one sessions and, I’m SO damn excited!
This was a true year of firsts for me, because aside from my first business class, I participated in crafting for the first time. Somehow, one of our craft managers Nik and I were able to wrangle several members of our staff together in the hotel lobby where she gave a quick indigo dyeing tutorial and semi-forced everyone to take a break to make something. “There are no mistakes in indigo dyeing! Just fold, rubber band or knot it and it’ll come out great!”, Nik said. I sat on the couch armrest knotting my Dharma Trading Co. scarf as tightly as I could (sadly, I didn’t think about the fact that I would have to take the knots out which took FOREVER!) and watched as the rest of our staff furiously prepared their textiles so we’d finish in time to get back to our departments to wrap up the work day. Nik took charge of our items and dropped them in the vats of leftover dye from Anna Joyce’s workshops (thanks Nik!). I dyed just about a dozen tea towels and they have become my pride and joy of my kitchen. I actually LIKE to wash dishes now because I get to lay them on my handmade indigo towels that remind me daily of the power and joy of making something by hand.
There were tricky moments, too. Things that didn’t go according to the plan. Miscommunications. Long, long, long, work days. At least one moment when I didn’t present myself as my best self. I won’t get into everything that was less than perfect because considering that we had over 220 workshops and events jam packed into just over a weekend, I think we did pretty well and I absolutely could not have done it alone!
Craftcation is a labor of love. It’s also a family affair. The family part isn’t just that my aunt Delilah and I had this crazy dream for a maker’s conference in 2012 and made it happen together for seven years (she’s since stepped back to focus on her other business, Alta Baja Market). And it’s not just that my family has been there every year to lend a hand – whether it’s been my husband, cousin and high school bestie cooking or my aunts serving lunch or my mom bandaging up an attendee after a crafting mishap or checking students into classes or my dad and Delilah’s husband driving the U-Haul and helping us unload it countless times. It’s that over the years, our attendees have become like a second family. Chiao Tan, the mom of our keynote presenter Amy Tangerine didn’t just help her daughter with her classes but she helped our staff setup and breakdown other workshops! People thought attendees like Mary Ann, Lisa C., Kreg and Marissa were staff because everywhere you looked, there they were, offering help. Our staff this year (as I write those words I can hardly read this screen because my eyes are filled tears of gratitude to each and every one of them), led by our operations director Spaulding, blew my mind with their dedication and made me feel like we were a true team that had each other’s back and would do whatever it took to get to our common goal of making Craftcation the best that we could.
Thank you to our staff, volunteers (including the unofficial volunteers), presenters, sponsors, partners, venues and of course to all of you attendees who are now part of the Craftcation family.
See you in 349 days at our next family reunion aka Craftcation Conference 2020.
P.S. – Thanks to our photo/video team Jessica and her husband Alex of Jessica Griffin Photography for all the awesome photos below (except for a few tossed into the mix that either I took or Sarah Deragon took on her photo walking tour). 🙂 You can see Jessica’s full gallery here.
CRAFTCATION 2019 - A RECAP
WELCOME TO CRAFTCATION!
Attendees were welcomed to Craftcation at the Ventura Marriott with bright handmade decor at registration. Presenters received an extra treat – a bottle of Day Owl Rosé. This was our second year of our scavenger hunt game which encourages attendees to try new things. Thanks to Vistaprint who printed our scavenger hunt cards, menus, programs, signs and pretty much every printed thing at Craftcation! I love that sign “Take what you need” that someone anonymously hung on one of the bathroom walls (Craftcation attendees are the best!).
THE KICK-OFF PARTY
We welcomed attendees on Wednesday with workshops, a mixer for newbies and introverts and a kick-off party at one of our favorite local spots, Fluid State Beer Garden where ImpressArt and Paper Source led make and takes and Notorious Tattoos (the group of attendees that won for the best Wanderings room last year for their Golden Girls themed “tattoo” (don’t worry mom, they’re temporary!) parlor) “tattooed” fellow attendees with craft-themed tattoos they designed and printed at Sticker You.
With almost 60 business workshops, panels and think tanks (intimate sessions where attendees get personalized feedback), Craftcation attendees who came to start or build their business had plenty to choose from. To help attendees navigate and keep track of all of their workshops (and other activities) we added a Craftcation app this year! The app was the brainchild of our marketing maven Katie Mac who worked hard to make sure it was not just user-friendly but also beautiful!
Our opening dinner sponsored by our official craft supply sponsor Darice was jam-packed with make and takes led by Walnut Hollow, DecoArt, Clover and ImpressArt, Button Making with Rosalie Gale, Felt Flair with Erin Garcia, author book signings, drinks provided by Day Owl Rosé and Harken Wines, Kombucha provided by Health-Ade, aura portraits from AuraDome and our Grow Your Creativity Activity with Marie LeBaron & Darice in which attendees took a minute to breath and reflect on their intentions then write their intentions down a leaf which they could put on Darice’s intention trees (which you’ll see further down the post). I didn’t see any of the decor until I walked into dinner and I was so impressed with what the decor team led by Amanda whipped up.
With 16 different workshops and activities happening simultaneously at Craftcation, we utilize every space in the hotel and have to get creative to find the enough and the right type of areas to have our workshops. A perfect example is our dyeing annex (aka an alcove in the Marriott’s parking lot) which is sponsored by our official dyeing sponsor Dharma Trading Co. Indigo dyeing and discharge printing with Jacquard’s indigo kits and Dye-Na-Flow fabric paints are always popular workshops and this year attendees loved some of the new dyeing workshops like fiber reactive dyeing and ice dyeing. Stay tuned because we’ll be sharing an ice dyeing tutorial next month using Dharma Trading Co.’s textiles and inks!
This year we mixed it up for lunch this year with a DIY chili bar at The Tavern on Friday and some local food trucks in the state park on Saturday. Attendees (and staff!) loved snacking on Justin’s dark and white chocolate peanut butter cups.
We had over 130 craft workshops in four days at Craftcation that used nearly 1,000 different types of supplies (you should see my supply ordering spreadsheet!). Our official craft supply sponsor Darice provided most of the supplies for the workshops. I’d love to share about each and every amazing workshop and presenter at Craftcation but you’d be reading this blog post all day so you can check our workshops and presenters to get an idea of what we spent our time making. Hugs to each of our awesome presenters for all their hard work.
Craftcation Veteran, and resident branding expert, Lela Barker taught her first craft workshop at Craftcation this year making botanical bath soaks. This delicious smelling workshop featured supplies from Bramble Berry who also provided awesome apothecary craft kits for our ambassadors as well as prizes for other contest.
At Sarah Deragon’s photo walking tour and iPhoneography workshop students got to use FUJIFILM Instax® SHARE SP-3 SQ printers and FUJIFILM Instax® SQUARE SQ6 cameras! Amy Tan’s travel journaling workshop utilized the cameras and printers to add in the moment personal chronicling of their time at Craftcation in their journals plus used Tombow dual tip pens to add lettering and drawings. One of the coolest things attendees got to do with FUJIFILM Instax® SQUARE SQ6 cameras was to create double exposure photos in Lindsay Ponta and Chelsea Andrews’s image transfer workshops. So many attendees were amazing and inspired by that creative technique.
Rebecca Burick from Paper Source led attendees in creating a Colorscope Pennant Collage with gorgeous Paper Source papers.
Our block printing, roller stamping and screen printing workshops featured supplies from Darice, Dharma Trading Co., Scout Books and Jacquard. Year after year, I’m in awe of how creative Craftcation attendees are how they can take basic supplies like ink and a carving block and create items that are not only lovely but express their personal style. They printed on totes from Darice, scarves, tea towels and napkins from Dharma Trading Co. and blank books from Scout Books.
Our pop-up shop, a retail shop filled with handmade, local and independent goods as well as books and craft supplies was busier than it has ever been this year! Thanks to noissue for providing our custom printed collaborative tissue paper featuring our logos as well as custom Craftcation stickers that we wrapped purchases in. Thanks to our attendee who created those amazing paper flowers from the tissue!
One of our signature events, Wanderings (which is spearheaded by Craftcation presenter Rosalie Gale of Ugly Baby) is like an art-walk except instead of gallery hopping, you wander from hotel room to hotel room where attendees have created experiences (ie: a pop-up shop, tarot reading room, photo booth, etc.). We loved that attendees had already started using their door hangers from Vistaprint.
Other special events included Joan Goodspeed’s Craft Supply Swap and Mallory Whitfield’s Embrace Yr Weird Dance Party. Craftcation isn’t just about building your business or crafting your face off, it’s also about taking care of yourself and some of the ways attendees do that is through Heather Montoya’s yoga on the beach and Holly Marsh’s new event, Slow Runner’s Club.
In our marketplace area attendees can get to know some of our sponsors. They had a chance to practice photography and learn how Abode could help them grow their business and creativity. Remember those intention leaves from the Darice exercise at dinner? Below you’ll find some pics of them tied onto the Darice Intention Trees. The ImpressArt table was constantly busy as attendees learned how to metal stamp and got to make one of their custom charms (each charm was a make a take at a different Craftcation event!).
Attendees got to know our official fabric wall sponsor Missouri Star Quilt Co. at their table where they spun a wheel to win a prize. Attendees swapped cards at our Vistaprint Business Card Exchange Wall. One of my favorite parts of Craftcation this year was our FUJIFILM Wanderlust Wall where attendees printed photos from their smartphones on FUJIFILM Instax® SHARE SP-3 SQ printers and took selfies with FUJIFILM Instax® SQUARE SQ10 cameras then added them to the wall and tied them to a spot where they love or hope to travel. This was a huge hit!
Our Iron Craft Contest (sponsored by Darice and Day Owl Rosé and Harken Wines, led by creator Holly Marsh and co-hosted by Mark Montano) always draws a large crowd and is a raucous good time. In this contest, attendees compete in rapid crafting challenges with surprise secret ingredients! I hope our new champion, and Ventura local, Sheri Cecil will be back next year to defend her title!
This year we expanded our sewing workshops and added a third sewing room. All of our sewing rooms were stocked with notions from our official notions supply sponsor Dritz and brand new Bernina 350 sewing machines thanks to our friends at Bernina and Baron’s Sewing Center. The team from Baron’s once again worked hard helping students sew and get to know the machines.
This year we welcomed new sponsor Missouri Star Quilt Co. to Craftcation as our official Fabric Wall sponsor. They provided all the woven fabric for all the sewing workshops at Craftcation. It was awesome to see attendees peruse so many incredible fabric choices when they headed over to the wall to pick out their fabrics.
Attendees got to combine hand sewing and machine sewing in an embroidered tote workshop from Sewing Bird who also creates embroidery and quilt kits for heirloom-worthy handmade projects.
Although we didn’t have serger sewing machines this year, we did have some workshops that required knit fabrics. Students in Meghann Halfmoon’s underpants sewing workshop got pick out or design their own custom fabric from Spoonflower. Spoonflower also provided the custom printed fabric for Jennie Lennick and Rebecca Saylor’s graphic pillow sewing workshop. Another brand new workshop that was a big hit was Allysia Holland and Jill Bates-Moore’s yoga pants/leggings workshop that featured luxurious knit fabric from Girl Charlee.
saturday night activities
By Saturday night, attendees who are ready to let loose and get a bit wild usually head over the themed Saturday Night Party at The Tavern. This year’s theme was Badass Women Throughout History and there were some truly inspiring handmade costumes. Attendees who were looking for a more mellow evening attended a screening of the documentary Commuknity or Rebecca Saylor’s fabric coloring pages make and take featuring Jacquard’s Dye-Na-Flow fabric paints.
It was a true honor to welcome my friend and eight-time Craftcation presenter Amy Tangerine to the stage to give our closing keynote. Amy and I both started our businesses around the same time and learned pretty much everything the hard way. I was so inspired listening to her and being reminded of how far she’s come and how many lives she’s touched with her creativity.
The other highlights of the closing ceremony were getting to give out prizes (thanks to our prize, gift bag and ambassador gift sponsors that included many of the sponsors already mentioned as well as Caboodles, Chronicle Books, Emily McDowell & Friends, Fiskars, Scotch and Uppercase Magazine) and thanking our crew who worked so hard to make the week amazing!