Last month I had the pleasure of attending my very first Craftcation. I was there to teach a sewing class, lead a panel discussion about teaching craft, and spread the word about Craft Industry Alliance. I had no idea I’d get much much more out of it. I had fun, met great people, lined up some contributors to CIA, and learned new craft skills!
Craftcation is a truly unique event, held every spring in Ventura, California. The weather is amazing, the hotel is very near to the beach, and the town is lovely. Best of all, the conference is incredibly well-planned so there’s always something going on that’s fun, informative, and inspiring.
The craft class catalog for Craftcation is impressive! This year’s menu included macrame, arm knitting, making espadrills, sewing a classic tee, brush lettering, weaving, metal stamping, and much, much more. My business is sewing, so when I find time to craft I feel an obligation to work on a sewing project or tutorial. Craftcation gave me an opportunity to learn new things that I’ve been interested in, but don’t find the time to learn when I’m at home.
The classes are literally all over the hotel and grounds. Many are in class rooms, but others are in public spaces like the courtyard, the front of the hotel, and in pass-through lounge areas, so you’re always seeing art and creativity and enthusiasm wherever you go. It’s a very positive and inspiring environment.
The business classes, lectures, and panel discussions at Craftcation cover a wide range of topics including social media, pricing, taxes, photography and video, wholesale, teaching, and more. Instructors and panelists are well-prepared experts in their field. Like the craft classes, the business classes provide you with opportunities to learn skills you might not have time to research when you’re thick in the day-to-day of your business.
In addition to classes, many of the instructors have Office Hours. You can sign up to meet with them one-on-one for coffee and a chat about a specific business topic. It’s a great opportunity to bounce ideas around with another entrepreneur, or get some suggestions and advice to improve your business.
Networking and Fun
I’m a pretty shy introvert, so networking is never easy for me, but it was a lot less painful at Craftcation. They had great meals with large communal tables, which made it easy to get to know other attendees. The first night they had a meet and greet just for first-timers, and Saturday night included a Golden Girls dance party with some pretty amazing costumes.
Wanderings was a new event that was a big hit. Many of the attendees decorated their hotel rooms to promote their business, their craft, or just for fun with wine and temporary tattoos. As you visited the rooms, you could get a stamp on a card. Everyone who completed their card was entered to win a prize. It was a neat way to talk to people, exhange business cards, and learn about products and businesses.
I think Craftcation is an amazing event. I love the combination of solid business information, plus great craft classes. The energy is terrific, the people are friendly, and the pacing is just right. I’ll definitely be going back.