Welcome to our interview series about attending creative conferences! Since our Craftcation Conference is just around the corner (March 26-29, 2015) we’re sharing tips and advice from Craftcation attendees for making the most of your experience at Craftcation or other creative conferences. These lovely creatives share awesome insight about how to choose a conference to attend, make the most of your time, what to bring, how to be budget-savvy and how to meet people at conferences. If you missed some of the interviews from this series you can read them here: Part One and Part Two.
Whether you’re a creative entrepreneur or a maker, if you’re ready to take the leap and make 2015 the best year yet for your business and/or creativity and expand your community, Craftcation registration is open now. Join us for four inspiring days of hands-on craft and food workshops, business classes and community events like our ever-famous dance party and opening dinner.
This week we’re so super happy to share the interview we did Todd and Anthony of T&A Leather. It’s no secret that (sadly) men are the minority at most creative business conferences and we loved getting a male perspective on the experience of Craftcation from these two awesome guys. Their experience at Craftcation helped open up the world of wholesaling their products and they give some great insight on how to connect with fellow attendees.
I love this quote from Todd and Anthony about what they got out of Craftcation:
“Our first conference (Craftcation) truly was awe inspiring. We were able to stretch our creative and business minds to push through boundaries that would normally take years to do. This was solely due to the concentration of information that a creative conference provides. From business lectures to craft classes, introductions to seasoned artists and craft booze tours, dancing and ghost hunting, it all culminated to a new level of growth, community and a deeper love for our art.”
Now onto the interview…
Please introduce yourself.
Welcome to T&A Leather where we pay homage to traditional leather crafters & mentors who have crossed our path & inspired us to pursue greatness in this lost art. We have wandered around the United States and have lived in many great cities such as San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans, New York, San Diego, all of which have had a great impact on our artistry sensibilities. At the moment, we are in Southern, California where we create out of our home-based studio… some people call it a garage.
With a passion for fashion and a conscious awareness of our limited, precious resources we up-cycle discarded, high quality leather remnants & hand-make each design piece into beautiful, sexy, truly unique accessories, for men & women, that will kick your style to a whole new level. Our Product list includes, handbags, belts, cuffs, wallets, guitar straps & many more items. We are constantly evolving and creating new accessories to add to our list and because we up-cycle leather remnants no two items are ever the same. Each piece is a puzzle as we decide which colors, shapes, textures fit together keeping our creative juices ever flowing.
We bring our tools with us to each craft show that we vend at so that we can fit and customize our products to each individual buyer on the spot. We can even create a customized item, from start to finish, right there in front of the attendees so that they can experience our crafting first-hand. We hope to inspire all that come by our booth & we always look forward to working with and inspiring you! You can find us online on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
What conferences have you been to?
Why is it worth it to go to a conference?
Craftcation was our first go at attending a creative conference and we weren’t entirely sure what to expect especially because we are men and most creative conferences are mostly women. Once we arrived the gender difference was negligible. We are all CREATIVES. Because we are a team of two we were able to split up and attend all the presentations we wanted to and then come back together to share what we’d learned. There are so many reasons why it is worth it to go to a conference. The thing that stands out most is the sheer amount of knowledge and experience that filled the event site from the presenters and speakers to the incredible attendees. The willingness to share between each other was effortless and in our minds, only elevates the creative world.
How has your business or creative pursuit changed after going to conferences?
One major business change after attending Craftcation was our expansion into the wholesale market. Before we attended our first wholesale show we were able to get ideas and confirmations that we were on the right track with our work. We also got answers to questions we had with regards to line-sheets, policies and pricing. We took those answers and integrated them into our work. Wholesale shows are a very different beast compared to retail shows and we were able to prepare and feel more comfortable with our new-found knowledge. With this, we were able to pick up amazing wholesale accounts in five states and look forward to acquiring more.
What was your first conference like?
Our first conference (Craftcation) truly was awe inspiring. We were able to stretch our creative and business minds to push through boundaries that would normally take years to do. This was solely due to the concentration of information that a creative conference provides. From business lectures to craft classes, introductions to seasoned artists and craft booze tours, dancing and ghost hunting, it all culminated to a new level of growth, community and a deeper love for our art.
Have you connected with new people at a conference and what are your tips for attendees (especially introverts) to network at conferences?
Our connections grew significantly. We’ve been showcased in blogs that feature up-cycled/recycled/reclaimed artisans, we keep in touch and support other creators throughout the United States and share show information with each other and we’ve even received scraps of leather that we use to create our pieces… BIG THANKS to Rebecca the owner of OodleBaDoodle.
What are the essential things you bring (or wish you had brought) to a conference?
Some of our must-brings are questions, openness, pen, paper, business cards, cell phone (for social media connections), water, snacks, mints, recording device, camera plus a bottle of wine or three. Cough drops came in handy when one of us was down and out, they helped with not disrupting the presentations with coughing.
How do you prepare for going to a conference?
We prepared by researching all of the lectures we were interested in and finding the ones that would most benefit our current business situation. We then noted the days and times of each lecture in our calendar. We assessed our creative business state and wrote down questions we had that could be answered by the presenters. We made sure to have pen and paper in hand to write down all the valuable information. This allowed us to maximize our learning and move us ever forward.
How do you make the most out of your conference experience?
“Forego ego”… A mantra we live by. Talk & interact with as many creatives as you can, especially the ones that are in a similar field. Some will not want to share information but finding the ones that will share will inspire you and in return they will receive inspiration from you. This, in itself, will elevate the artistic soul.
How do you apply what you’ve learned to your business/creative pursuit?
We apply everything we learn always, in all ways.
Here are a few photos from these awesome guys!