We’re thrilled to announce our 2023 Craft Industry Alliance Scholarship recipients. We launched our scholarship program three years ago 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 had a record-high number of applicants this year and reading through the applications was truly inspiring! We had applicants from every craft sector including upcycling, quilting, jewelry, garment sewing, bath and body care, rug hooking, 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 new path.
Ten applicants truly stood out and we’re thrilled to offer them one-year memberships. 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. Thank you to the ten recipients for allowing us to share a bit about their stories so you can get to know their businesses and celebrate this special day with us.
Natalie opened an online shop in 2021 and started by selling knitting patterns that had previously been published in Knitting magazine (GMC Publications). After building her catalog there, her focus began to shift to teaching. She has been piloting a knitwear design course since autumn 2022. It comprises four modules: Visual Communication, Design Development, Pattern Drafting, and CAD and Pattern Grading. She will be creating a community/membership space that will be her flagship offering. “The material is my life’s work,” she says, noting that she grew up in a tailoring family, taught fashion and textiles, and has been a hand-knit designer since 2013.
Ai MEi Origami Decor opened on Etsy in early June 2023. Currently, Ai MEi sells high-end origami wall art. In the future, Melanie hopes to sell other home decor products that follow a geometric modern interior style, such as curtains, pillows, and serving trays. Because her business is a newborn, she will be focusing on origami wall art for now. However, she is still developing her other craft skills. Currently, her business model is based on product sales. However, she would like to expand into affiliate marketing through blogging and social media. She would like to start her blogging and social media efforts on giving lifestyle and home decorating advice. When Melanie has built up enough of a platform, she would like to use her expertise as a technical communicator to offer educational resources about optimizing e-commerce content for translation, communicating with customers professionally and succinctly, using technology to support your craft business, and organizing and designing your creative space. She understands she has plenty of dreams, but is still at square one. To keep focus, she uses what she learned in the technology industry and is starting with small achievable goals to eventually achieve her long-term goals.
Nicole started a DIY craft studio, Stencil, in November of 2017. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, they offer over 100 different craft projects for people to create, including but not limited to: wood crafts, paint pouring, string art, glassware and fiber art. Their business model is focused on their customers being able to create whatever they want, when they want. Other craft studios focus on offering classes which means if you come with your friends or family, everyone in the group has to create the same thing. At Nicole’s studio, each of our projects comes with its own self-paced tutorial so that if you come with a group of friends and each person wants to create something different, they can. Their staff members are available to assist at any step of the process should they have questions about how to do something.
Sarah is currently an online creator, sharing YouTube videos of her creative process in order to help other artists or non-creatives to embrace the art experience. She specializes in painting, crafting, and knitting and crochet. Her business model is currently multi-stream, with her blog being monetized as well as having products for sale on it, and her YouTube channel growing every day toward monetization requirements. Sarah plans to create a baseline of revenue via online streams, then move toward ie-commerce and paid services once the business online is somewhat stable. She is also planning to expand into in-person workshops within the next year and starting a paint party bus for children’s parties. Sarah’s plans for the future are to grow from minimal revenue to a full-fledged, independent business within the next two years, as well as supporting non-creatives to explore creative experiences, like painting and other craft mediums.
Suzanne helps to run Heartisans, a 501(c)(3) organization in Longview, Texas, that helps women obtain employment that will sustain the needs of themselves and/or family. The model originated with selling craft items by volunteers in 2014. It’s grown over the past nine years and now they have studios for sewing, quilting, vinyl, printing, spa products, cookie mixes, candies, embroidery, knitting and crochet. All proceeds fund the non-profit.
Renee developed an inventory cataloging app for paper crafting: Color My Life. She and her partner have personally funded the software development and charge a very small subscription fee to cover the infrastructure costs on Amazon Web Services. They started five years ago and took two years to release the iOS version, another year and a half to release Android, and finally another year and a half to release a web version. While it was created for paper crafting, they’ve had many requests to expand it to other crafts/hobbies. They hope some day to be able to have the business completely self-funded and eventually earn a small income from it.
Jolene owns Finger Lakes Fabrics, a quilt shop in Skaneateles, NY. The shop opened in January 2023. Jolene says Finger Lakes Fabrics is “where creativity and community meet.” In addition to classes, sales of fabric, machines.notions, quilting and machine service, they participate in community service. All are welcome and supported. Their plan for the future is to stabilize into a longtime serving shop. They plan to grow in ways to support the community’s needs and wants.
Joy has an event planning business that is developing into a craft business. She is making cards, party favors, decorations, books and gifts for her clients. Joy specializes in personalizing items for clients and guests. She is looking to start an ecommerce store within the next 60 days with a few fellow crafters and offer a variety of handmade crafts. They are looking to put our stashes to work! Joy started the event business in March 2020 and began crafting in 2021 with cards and gifts. She’s held a few card making classes for friends and found she enjoyed teaching. As an entrepreneur, Joy sees the opportunity in making this passion into a business.
Joy’s future goals are to retire from her full-time position as a healthcare administrator within the next 10 years so she would like to develop her craft business to be her retirement activity. “It’s time to get that started,” she says. Joy would like to hold craft classes, sell makes at expos, shows, fairs, and in a store, either online or brick-and-mortar. Additionally, Joy noted, “There’s not a lot of minority representation in the crafting industry. Developing imaging and artwork that appeals to various and diverse groups would be exciting, fun, and needed. I’ve had multiple requests to create cards and gifts that reflect the recipient’s cultural background.”
About Bridgewood Toys Natalie says, “We don’t make toys. We make toymakers!” Bridgewood Toys creates Toymaker kits to help people to safely and easily experience the joy of heirloom toymaking, either for themselves or to create delightful and playable gifts for loved ones.
They officially launched on Dec. 17, 2022. Their goal is to grow our ecommerce arm of our business, build brand exposure and to continue to develop our product landscape. Ultimate goal: they want to be the Build-A-Bear for wooden toys.
Tunnizze Creation started in Lagos, Nigeria in 2012 as a craft business to awaken creativity in children using craft skills such as knitting and crochet. The business was born out of Elizabeth’s passion for passing on needlecraft skills to children. From inception, they operated in the B2B model where their knit and crochet classes were sold directly to schools, and more recently branched to the B2C model. Their train-the-trainer workshop equips teachers with the right knitting skills to start their own knitting clubs in their schools. They’ve set a goal to reach 20,000 across Africa by 2050. We are starting by extending our classes outside Nigeria to east Africa in August where we will be collaborating with Eshe yarns in Nairobi.