Amy Stamp had a background in graphic design and art education and was working as a high school art teacher before she went on parental leave. One night she had craft night with friends, making body scrubs and drinking wine, and she thought, “Why isn’t this a business? It’s so much fun.”\
Staying home with her kids, it was the first time in her adult life that Stamp wasn’t working. “I wanted to teach, to share knowledge about art, craft, and creativity with people. I wanted a way to feel whole as a person, but still have control over my schedule.”
Paint nights were becoming popular at the time, but she explains that she was more interested in hosting an event where the project was more practical – “for friends to get together, have good time, make something that might be useful or a great gift. That’s where idea came from.”
Stamp started Craftivate from her dining room table in 2015. She would travel to places like breweries, vineyards or clients’ living rooms to host craft nights and teach crafts. Eventually, the business (and all the supplies needed for it) got to be too much to run from home. She opened the Craftivate storefront in late 2016. “Having a dedicated space was great for storage, but it also meant people could come to the studio to make and create, and have a crafting community to come to.”
Located in downtown Wallingford Town Center, in central Connecticut, in a thriving and supportive community of small businesses, the storefront operates as a “DIY art and craft studio,” offering walk-in crafting hours, workshops, classes and private events for both children and adults. Stamp has three to four staff who help out, running the walk-in hours, doing back-end office work, helping with events, and teaching kids.
Stamp explains that the mission of Craftivate is to “help everyone tap into their own creativity. People come in and they say they’re not creative, or ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘This isn’t normal for me.’
One of our slogans is ‘Everyone is creative.’ I think as human beings we’re born creative, it’s part of our nature. We’re creative in the way we dress, talk, move, decorate our homes. We need to recognize it.”
Though Stamp has plans to introduce the sale of kits for projects she’s designed, most of the focus at Craftivate is on building community, teaching crafts, and helping people to connect with their creativity.
Getting the word out
It can be a challenge, though, to get people out of their homes and into the studio. Stamp says, “Every single day it’s like what else can we do to get people in.” She focuses her efforts on being in touch with what people are really interested in so her programming draws them in. She does most of her marketing through social media, which is effective but comes with its own challenges. “[Social media] is super saturated right now, so trying to figure out who our audience is and directing posts or ads toward them is challenging.”
Stamp finds that any publicity she gets – craft segments on local news, articles about the studio in print media – helps people find the studio. And providing people with a good experience that they then share is the best kind of word-of-mouth marketing. Stamp says that sometimes clients’ posts are more effective than hers are at bringing people through the door.
The studio caters to both kids and adults, separately. Adult programming is usually scheduled at night. For kids, lots of programs are scheduled during school breaks and on weekends. In either case, Stamp’s education background influences the way she designs and teaches projects. She says, “We like to have the finished project reflect the person who makes it – no copying exactly.” Stamp will create a project, and people will choose options as they create so their final product is something that fits their own style, their home decor, the preferences of the recipient if it will be a gift.
She says one major difference between her target markets is in how they approach their creative experience, and she’s always trying to be very intentional in the experience she facilitates. “Kids are really willing to jump in right away. I never hear from kids that they’re not creative. That never comes out of their mouths. They’re confident that they can do the project, without hesitation. They’re more carefree, they don’t have fears yet about rejection or that they’re not going to do it right or that it won’t be as good as their neighbor’s. And they’re always proud of their final product, no matter what it looks like. Where adults tend to focus on the final product even when they’re having fun making it.”
Visit Craftivate the next time you’re in the Wallingford area at 172 Center Street.
Kim Werker is a Vancouver-based writer who is building a community of creative adventurers.