We’re thrilled to announce our 2020 Craft Industry Alliance Scholarship recipients. We launched our scholarship program earlier this spring in an effort to make Craft Industry Alliance membership available to creative small business owners who would benefit from the resources and community support we offer, regardless of financial means. We were truly excited to see the applications come in and reading through them was so inspiring. We had applicants from every area of craft including ceramics, quilting, silk painting, jewelry, cross stitch, weaving, spinning and dyeing, paper crafting, and more. Some were at the beginning stages of their business, and some were further along. We had high school and college students, mid-career professionals, and retirees starting on a brand new path.
Although we originally set out to choose just four recipients, in the end we decided to extend scholarships to a total of six applicants. Each recipient has their own hopes and aspirations for their craft business and we can’t wait to welcome them into the Craft Industry Alliance community. Five of the six recipients have granted us permission to share a bit about their stories so you can get to know their businesses and celebrate this special day along with us.
Dia is a self-taught and skilled indie dyer, spinner, crocheter, and weaver behind Twisted Urban Fiber Arts. “Twisted Urban isn’t just about making amazing fiber art based products. My goal is to continually use my business as a platform to talk about mental health, the importance of self-care, and to also share how it has helped me deal with some unexpected events in my life in hopes that it would empower others,” she says. “I would also like to use my business to help bridge the gap between culture and diversity by connecting the world through the creativity of fiber arts. I am a firm believer that we as people have more in common than differences, but it is just about finding that one common thread that connects us.”
Jamie Kroeger is an emerging art jeweler, creating gallery based jewelry work with a focus on concept, alternative materials, and process. She’s recently expanded her practice to include limited-edition collections of easy to wear jewelry, textiles, and homewares that are more affordable. “The majority of my sales are online, by word of mouth or from the gallery but I would like to expand to include a few curated markets as we can eventually move back to that style of interaction. For the future I would love to move my business into a separate studio location where I could teach classes, sell supplies and possibly have a few employees working with the limited-edition line, freeing up more time for me to create the conceptual gallery work.”
Makeda Smith makes handmade ceramic goods with a focus on jewelry and home decor. She started her business, Sio Ceramics, last year, but officially got her business license about two months ago. She’s a sole proprietor and her business is currently a one-woman show. “My plan for the future is to be able to quit teaching and focus on my business full time,” she says. “I would like to own a studio and retail space. I would also like to see my work in other brick and mortar shops.”
Through her business, Across the Stitch, Dineen sells modern cross stitch patterns, kits, and completed framed pieces. Dineen started her business in 2017 after she retired from the U. S. Army. She says, “Before retiring, I couldn’t find cross stitch patterns that displayed diversity and inspiration the way I envisioned. I decided I could make my patterns and kits to sell that are different from what is sold in the market. My business is about diversity and inspiration.” Dineen plans to develop new pieces dedicated to service members. “My plans for the future are to reach a diverse audience and to grow my business so that I can open a brick-and-mortar store,” she says.
Sarah has been creating modern, handwoven goods for the body and home since 2014 under her business name, East Parlor. Items include scarves, dishtowels, wall art, and home decor. “I want to focus on the eco-friendly and sustainable side of textiles and how to incorporate simple items into our lifestyles without compromising style and function,” she says. Future plans include getting her items into more stores and boutiques around the U.S. and furthering the notion of sustainability in the home.