Why Attend a Creative Conference? An interview with Vennice James

why you should attend a creative conference from dear handmade life part oneWelcome to our interview series about attending creative conferences! Since our Craftcation Conference is just around the corner (March 26-29, 2015) we wanted to share some tips and advice for making the most of your experience at Craftcation or other creative conferences. Usually you hear from Delilah and me singing the praises of creative conferences and offering tips to make the most of your time and money at a conference. This year we decided to mix it up and ask our attendees about their experiences and advice for conference attendees. Over the next seven weeks join us here every Tuesday for an interview with Craftcation attendees.

As I read through these interviews I was amazed at all the wonderful insight attendees have gotten about their businesses and creative life. We’ll hear from a variety of attendees sharing tips on how to choose the right conference for you, how to prepare, how their businesses have changed from what they learned, how to meet people and form lasting bonds with fellow attendees, what you should pack and more. 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 super excited to share the interview we did with three-time Craftcation attendee Vennice James. I feel lucky I got to know Vennice at the first Craftcation. She’s such a joy to be around-always smiling, positive, creative and fun. I also love that she juggles several creative businesses like hair styling and being a yoga teacher (which aren’t the typical kinds of businesses most Craftcation attendees have), yet she’s able to use the information and connections she makes at Craftcation to grow her businesses, creativity and community. I look forward to hanging out with Vennice and her crew of awesome friends she always brings at Craftcation 2015. I love what Vennice said about Craftcation below.

“By attending this conference I’ve been able to evaluate and analyze my crafty business venture. I feel I have the tools and information to build my crafty business after attending Craftcation. My artistic and creative pursuits have grown beyond my expectations.”

-Nicole S.

Now onto the interview…

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Vennice James Estrada. I am a hair stylist, yoga teacher and mad crafter. I’m a lover all of things creative! You can find me online: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Etsy.

What conferences have you been to?

I have attended Craftcation for the past three years. I also attend at least three trade shows and/or additional training to stay current and sharpen my skills for my career in the beauty industry.

How do you choose what conference to go to?

I choose a conference based on the classes and the presenters. If the conference is offering a class I’ve been wanting to take or features presenters I’ve always wanted to meet, work with or learn from, I’m in!

Why is it worth it to go to a conference?

Conferences are valuable for so many reasons. Working solo can make it difficult to meet people, this is the mecca of crafty loners. I love being surrounded by creative people in an artistic environment. It’s a great place to get inspired and reignite your creativity. I’m not technically savvy so business classes are a must attended for growing my business.

How has your business or creative pursuit changed after going to conferences?

By attending this conference I’ve been able to evaluate and analyze my crafty business venture. I feel I have the tools and information to build my crafty business after attending Craftcation. My artistic and creative pursuits have grown beyond my expectations.

What are your tips for conference goers on a budget?

If you’re on a budget try to share a room or carpool. Take advantage of free meals even if you have to get there early or show up for the last sandwich. Use coupons and look for discounts. I always bring an electric tea kettle so I can have tea, coffee, oatmeal & ramen. This saves me time and money.

What was your first conference like?

The first year of Craftcation blew my mind! There were over 300 crafty chicks in one space who all wanted to learn and create! People are really friendly and helpful. I love that the Crown Plaza is temporally turned into a colorful buzzing creative space!

What was one of your best conference moments?

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences at Craftcation with some of the most amazingly unique and creative people I have ever encountered. The first year I signed up for jam making with Delilah. I had no idea she was one of the master minds behind Craftcation. I partnered up with a gal named KC and we are still friends. I took this jam making skill to heart. I taught my Mom and now we do it together.

Have you connected with new people at a conference and what are your tips for attendees (especially introverts) to network at conferences?

Everyone has a name tag and that helps to break the ice with people. Remember most people are nervous and want to meet you too, they just don’t know it yet. Give out your business cards and ask people for their contact information. I’ve received mini zines, tiny cookies and lots of postcards instead of a typical business card. I’ve met many people and have made several connections. Social media makes it easy to find people and keep in touch.

What are the essential things you bring (or wish you had brought) to a conference?

Don’t start packing without checking the weather. Pack comfy walking shoes and clothes. If you’re going to do yoga bring your mat or at least a beach towel. As I mentioned earlier, I always pack an electric tea kettle so I can have unlimited coffee, tea, oatmeal and ramen. This saves me time and money. Drink emergency or vitamin C packs to keep your immune system up. Small crock pots, record players, and quilts have been spotted in crafter’s rooms. If you’re flying and or sharing a room head phones are essential! I also like a giant scarf that can double as a blanket or cover up.

How do you prepare for going to a conference?

I prepare by checking my tickets and class schedule. Then I read over directions and times. I print out the schedule and hang it on the wall. This way I can see the entire line up for the week.

How do you make the most out of your conference experience?

I like to journal so I can remember things I saw and did. I take photos, videos and even voice record some lectures. Enjoy yourself and try something new. Don’t be too rigid with yourself. If the beach is calling your name, go put your feet in the sand.

How do you apply what you’ve learned to your business/creative pursuit?

I try to practice or instill what I’ve learned as soon as I get home. I connect with people right away thru email and social media.

Below are some photos Vennice sent us from Craftcation.

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