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tenet
noun te·net
: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially: one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

Welcome to Craft Industry Alliance! We are so glad you’re here. The launch of this organization is happening nearly one year after we, Kristin and Abby, first bounced around ideas for providing craft professionals with opportunities to learn and connect. Since that time, we’ve spent hours talking to our friends and colleagues about how we can best serve the craft community. Their input helped frame this organization, define our mission, and structure the website.

Through the process of interviewing friends and writing our business plan, our vision for the Craft Industry Alliance (CIA) emerged and four distinct beliefs about craft professionals took shape. These foundational tenets guided our launch and will continue to drive us in the future.

Tenet 1: It’s not your hobby, it’s your career.

When you have a job with a title, regular paycheck, and health insurance, it’s easy to speak confidently and proudly about what you do for a living. Everyone knows you’re working hard to support yourself or support your family. But when you’re self-employed in the craft industry and your business evolved from your passion, expressing that same level of confidence and legitimacy can be difficult. You may find that it takes extra effort to convince family and friends that what you do is your career, not your hobby. Sometimes, you may have trouble convincing yourself.

Our first commitment to you is that you don’t have to convince us.

We understand that this is your career. This is a trade organization for craft professionals. And, much like trade associations for other professionals — for realtors, nurses, accountants, and plumbers — we want CIA to help you succeed in your chosen career. We admire your talent, intelligence, determination, and commitment and hope this space, as well as the content it provides, reflects our respect.

Tenet 2: Knowing your craft is only a part of running your business.

You might be a maker, a book author, or a shop owner, but to be a successful entrepreneur you also have to be an accountant, a social media expert, a web developer, a writer, and a photographer. Being a small business owner means wearing many hats and learning many skills. Most of us hit the ground running and learn those skills as we go, which is both exciting and challenging (to say the least).

We want CIA to be a place where you can identify, learn, or outsource the skills you need to do your job well. A place where you can get reliable information about the operational, technical, and legal aspects of your business through our well-researched articles, webinars with experts, and discussions with other members. There is a lot to learn, but we believe having a central site with good information from experienced people will be an asset to all of us.

Tenet 3: You might be a sole proprietor, but that doesn’t mean you have to work alone.

There are many advantages of working for yourself — setting your own hours, steering your own ship, and working in your pajamas, to name just a few. But running your own business also can be lonely, exhausting and frustrating. A big part of our mission is making sure you don’t feel isolated. Here’s how we’ll do that:

Community: Our groups and forums are here for you to build relationships with other craft industry professionals. This is more than just networking — it’s connecting and learning from each other. Of course, we don’t expect you to reveal your trade secrets or replace your BFF. Rather, we look at this space as a supportive and friendly place for you to meet and connect with other creative entrepreneurs.

Collaboration: Carrie Bloomston, a brilliant creative professional who writes, teaches, and designs, recently sent out a newsletter in which she used the term “brandshake” to describe the collaboration between businesses like Target and West Elm, or Starbucks and Spotify. Carrie says, “That collaboration is, in my opinion, the face of modern business.” We love that idea and believe in it, too. We’re working on ways to facilitate brandshaking between our members. Have ideas for the next great brandshake? Tell us about it! We want to hear from you.

Advocacy: We aren’t afraid to stand up for craft professionals. In fact, both of us have a history of advocating for colleagues on our blogs, like the time Abby challenged fabric designers to demand written contracts, or when Kristin, asked suppliers and consumers to support small sustainable businesses. We believe in living wages, equality, and the importance of small businesses in our communities and our economy. We want CIA to be the type of association that encourages these types of conversations. How can we work together for the greater good of all our members? You tell us.

Tenet 4: What you do doesn’t align with traditional business models, and that’s ok.

Small business isn’t just about B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business) anymore. What you do is new and innovative. You’re selling to and through other businesses. You’re selling to consumers in person and online. You’re manufacturing, self-publishing, and licensing your designs. For the first time in history, innovators have control over the means of production AND the means of distribution! It’s definitely an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. With constantly changing media, trends, markets, and technology, however, running a successful brand means you have to be adaptable. Part of the reason we didn’t want to limit our membership to makers is because we understand how critical it is to diversify what you do and how you earn. You might be a shop owner and a fabric designer; a dollmaker and a book author; a pro blogger and a workshop leader. That’s why being inclusive — opening CIA to all types of craft professionals — just makes sense to us.

Similarly, we didn’t want to limit this organization to the sewing industry or the yarn industry or the paper industry. We recognize the crossover and believe the commonalities among business owners in the various craft sectors outweigh their differences. You are adaptable and your business will evolve and grow. We want to be as flexible and innovative as you are.

As craft industry professionals, we’re all rethinking entrepreneurship — rethinking what it means to ourselves, to our families, to our communities, and to the economy. We believe that this is a great time to be a small business owner, but we also know that parts of the entrepreneurship road are unpaved and a little bit bumpy. We want to help make your path a little smoother by providing you with the information, ideas, and support you need to succeed. We are truly looking forward to taking this journey with you.

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