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Crafty Business Week – Book Review & GIVEAWAY – Craft Inc.

 

Reported by Sarah Moore

Many of you are probably like me, you have a million crafty dreams just waiting to become a reality. Perhaps you are a designer or hobby crafter. Maybe you have sold some of your work at craft shows, or on Etsy. Or maybe you just love to make for the sake of making, and don’t know how to take your hobby to the next level. Craft Inc., Turn Your Creative Hobby Into A Business, and its companion title, The Craft Inc. Business Planner by Meg Mateo Ilasco were written for you!

How do you start a business? Will you need a business license? What will your start up costs be? These questions and more are answered in Craft Inc. These books are current, address market needs for 2011, and are entertaining as well. I especially enjoyed the interviews with professional creatives Ms. Mateo Ilasco sprinkled throughout the books.

As a creative entrepreneur myself, I got a lot out of the chapters titled “your business mind,” and “marketing and publicity strategies.” I only dabble in selling my crafts, but those of you who have dreams of making a living selling at craft shows will find the chapters about production, pricing, sales, and order fulfillment especially useful.

The chapters about your creative and business mind will help inspire you, while the rest of the book provides solid advice to help you see your dreams solidify. Reading sound business advice, specific to the industry, can really help you decide where you will need additional resources and help.

I especially appreciated that the author speaks to the reader as if s/he is a professional with a desire to design a real business, not just sell their wares at a few shows. Ms. Mateo Ilasco speaks as an expert to the entrepreneur… not just the dabbling creative, as so many of these books tend to do.

The planner was designed to be an accompaniment to the main publication. It’s a place to keep all your important documents, business license and tax ID numbers, contacts, suppliers, etc. It is spiral bound and contains section dividers and pockets. It even has a note pad/to-do list in the front.

The planner is really a portable business plan. It is designed to help you create budgets, predict costs and revenue, and set goals. I love this aspect of it. Having all your data and dreams in one place can be very helpful to your business growth. The author has also included many quotes from professional crafters to further inspire you.

I will say that I wish the book was 3-ring bound, so I could remove some of the pages I won’t use, or make multiple copies of those I’d need more of. I don’t really need the pages about packing for a craft show, but those of you who do shows regularly will find them very helpful. I really love the section about trade shows. Industry trade shows are often overlooked and I participate in quite a few.

The planner will help you create your business – from budgets to booth design. But even if you are a more experienced business owner, you will still find the book useful to store all your ideas in one place.

Leave it to Chronicle Books to produce books that are attractive, current and useful. All in all, I found these books inspirational. If you are dreaming of taking your hobby to the next level, as a designer, crafter or creative entrepreneur, then I would recommend this collection.

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Chronicle have given us a copy of Craft Inc. to give to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on this post and answer any of the questions below:

Why do you want to read this book? Do you currently own a craft business? What do you use to stay on track?

One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Friday, May 27, 2011.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Craft Critique Meets Martha Stewart: Part Two: The Offices

What could be more exciting than meeting Martha Stewart?  How about a tour of the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Offices?  Yes please!  Editor Jodi Levine and Deputy Design Director Megen Lee were happy to show us around!

Dana, Sarah and Simone glow in front of the Martha Logo!

We were delighted back in November to be asked to join MSLO editors Jodi Levine and Hannah Milman in the Caribbean to test run the new Martha Stewart Craft Studio classes by Beaches resorts.  Now we are happy to call them friends in craft. So when we visited New York for a show taping, they graciously invited us for a tour of the offices to see where the magic happens!

There was a lot we were not allowed to snap pictures of: the individual offices, including Martha’s clean glass office, the yummy smelling test kitchens, the dozens of inspiration boards all over the building… but we were bestowed the honor of being allowed in the prop room, with cameras!

A place for everything, and everything in it’s place!

This is the room where all the props are curated.  There is a small staff that oversees this office, and we imagine they must always be dusting and organizing.  When Martha says, “Bring me that jadeite cake stand that we used on the cover in March of ’93,” they know exactly where that cake stand is!

It was so fun seeing items we remembered from the magazine!

We think that many of you would pay actual cash money for a trip to the prop room… we know we were overwhelmed!

Candlestick anyone?
Christian didn’t touch a thing.  We swear!

A duvet for every day!

Simone chills out with some colorful glass!

Look!  Drawers full of linens!

Ooh! Ahh!

Cake Stands for everyone!

The mixing bowl and canister department
Jodi shows off a wall of walls!

Everything accomplished at MSLO happens here, the editing of the TV shows, the content of each magazine, testing recipes, designing products for Macy’s and developing new crafts products.  We even got to see (hush-hush) new stamping products in the works.  We were so impressed with the hands-on approach and the real ownership each staff member seems to take over their area of expertise.

Jodi Levine, Simone Collins, Dana Vitek, Sarah Moore, Megen Lee and Christian Tamez

They’ve shared some wonderful stories with us about what it’s like to work at MSLO.  Did you know there are only about 600 employees in the MSLO family?  Most employees wear multiple hats and seem to really love the work environment.  The open layout makes it possible for someone working on designing a new craft tool to just jog over to the design department to grab a color swatch, or for the cooks to get opinions on a new recipe.  What a dream environment to work in!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this fun peek into the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offices.  Later this week we will be sneak peeking some new products and beautiful samples being debut on HSN!  We know things!  Shh!!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Craft Critique Visits the Urban Craft Center

Written by Sarah Moore, Editor-in-Chief

When we were in Los Angeles recently for the CHA conference we thought it’d be fun to explore some local craft shops.  Top on our list, and for good reason, was the Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica.

From the Urban Craft Center About Page:

The Urban Craft Center is a place of social gathering and craft inspiration for the Santa Monica, Southern California area. We have plenty of room for you to spread out projects and a vast assortment of tools available for use in the studio. Add to that our classes, private lessons and full retail space with natural, hard to find items, and the U.C.C is your one stop craft Mecca. You can do it all at the U.C.C – so come on in and get inspired.

Private Lessons in Yudu screenprinting, sewing, knitting, crochet, bookbinding and more, are available at the center, and the space can also be booked for private parties or events.

Owner, crafter and entrepreneur, Angharad Jones, moved to Los Angeles from Oregon, and wanted to create a space reminiscent of her indie-craft roots.  The ample space, hidden away in downtown Santa Monica is a crafter’s paradise!


Even the Calendar and community board were appealing to us crafters!


Crafty ideas from past and future classes line the walls and fill the shelves.  We especially loved this first class for couples!

 

 

There was plenty of eye candy for us to ogle over…

Fabric…


Yarn…

 

 Check out this ball of yarn!



An amazing crafty book collection…

Supplies and notions…

And many giftables for your favorite crafter…

And then they have a perfect open craft space.  Couches for those who like to get cozy while they craft, and tables for people who need space to spread out!  We were there on an open craft night, when it was free to sit and craft, but the space can be rented for a nominal fee anytime the shop is open.  Perfect for apartment dwellers who don’t have a lot of crafting space at home.

I love that you can have access to all these wonderful supplies right at your fingertips; The Yudu, sewing machine, a spinning wheel, a computerized die cut machine, a propane tank for precious metal and clay firing, polymer clay tools, rubber stamps, paper punches, embroidery hoops, needle felting, paper making, soap making, scrapbooking and dyeing equipment, and a washing machine for felting!

The icing on the cake was the Yarn Bomb we discovered outside the shop.  This is crafty vandalism we can get behind!

Where do you go in your neighborhood to socialize with other crafters?  Share your favorite store/meeting space or club.  Who knows, maybe Craft Critique will stop on by!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Craft Critique Meets Martha Stewart: Part One

By Sarah Moore, Editor-in-Chief

I don’t know about you, but meeting Martha Stewart has been on the top of my bucket list since I started subscribing to Living, 20 years ago.  As a crafter, and a woman, I am contractually obligated to worship her.  Simone and I were thrilled when we recently received the invitation to live blog from the audience for a special “Craft Show” edition of the program.

We had no idea what to expect, as the details given to use were vague.  We hoped to at least get a glimpse of ourselves on camera, and maybe a mention for the site.

When we arrived at the NYC studios we were ushered past the line of eager fans and led into the waiting area where comedian and audience “fluffer” Joey Kola got us all psyched up for the big event!


After being practically ordered by the show producers to use the washroom before the show, we entered the studios.  They smelled delicious even though there wasn’t a cooking segment on our show.

The spacious studio was decorated for “The Craft Show” with huge pom-pom flowers!  As the excitement over took us we were guided to our seats right in the front row! 

This fun shot was snapped for the Martha Stewart Show Facebook page!

The atmosphere was so energetic.  Simone and I were so impressed with the staff, rushing around, setting up each project with perfection for Martha and her guests.  There were tables set up for each craft, laid out with supplies carefully.  The staff would them move the tables in and out of place as the show progressed.

The pristine set is ready for action!

Comedian Joey Kola gets us and the audience psyched up!

Camera shots for each segment were being set up ahead of time, the cameramen checking whatever it is they check, zooming in close to each area and setting up their shots.  Meanwhile, Simone and I got our computers fired up and ready to blog and tweet!

 Martha Gets a primp between commercial breaks


We thought Martha was in rare form.  She was funny, and seemed to really be enjoying herself. One of the things we loved most is how Martha didn’t “drop character” or the craft she was working on during the commercial breaks.  We watched her finish each and every craft,  paying careful attention to the quality of her work.

If you missed “The Craft Show” you can watch most of it online.  Unfortunately you will miss the end where we all got to stand up and introduce ourselves and Craft Critique.  Simone live blogged the entire event while I tweeted, and honestly, we were so wrapped up in the excitement of it all we needed to watch the show ourselves to see the highlights!

Of course the very best part of the show for us was when we were able to take a photo with the queen of craft herself!  We even had a brief chat.  She asked us the name of our blog and she probably said something amazing to us, but we were too dumbfounded by the experience to remember. 
All in all, it was a dream come true and we are so grateful to have had the experience!
Stay tuned for Part Two where we take you inside the offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Trendspotting on Flickr!

Reported by Sarah Moore

Just sharing some of my Flickr faves… some based on some trendspotting: felt, needle-crafts, fast food, schoolgirls, Alice in Wonderland, bluebirds, tiny cute animals, cardinals, chainmaille, cute zombies, iPhone stuff… and a bunch of other lovely things that don’t fit into any of these categories.

Click away! Feel free to share your own Flickr page links in the comments!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Supershow: Crafty Storytellers

From Your Editor: Sarah Moore

Normally I don’t pop out from behind the Craft Critique curtain, but this story seems to demand it. If you are a regular blog reader then you have your favorites. For me, it’s people who somehow leave a speck of themselves in your brain after you read/view them. It’s their ability to be transparent and vulnerable with their art in a genuine way that draws me to them. Behind every artist and crafter is a story. Sometimes it’s told through the art they create; sometimes they expose it through their writings.

Even if you attended the CHA Supershow you may unfortunately have missed this amazing event. Note one: it was a great idea for an event, harkening from the poetry slams of my youth… all this happening needed was mood lighting, Indian tapestries, floor pillows, candles and a smoky room. Some of which I will bring to the event myself next year to help with set design.

The purpose of this event was to bring crafty bloggers together, and showcase the stories they tell that inspire emotions from laughter to heartbreak.

Craftycafe Crafty Storytellers: Inspiring, Comical & Entertaining Tales as told by full-time Craftaholics!

Sit down, relax and be ready to laugh as popular crafty bloggers share their stories about living life as a professional artist. From hilarious craftastrophes to family memories to the quest for the golden glue gun – they’ve lived it and are now sharing the details!

Kicking off the event was the Craft Chica herself, Kathy Cano-Murillo. Her story, lifted from her book Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul: Glittery Ideas to Liven Up Your Life
spoke about how her crafts are not always perfect. And isn’t it great to know your superstar crafters make mistakes! It taught us that sharing, and then even embracing your imperfections is how you turn your failures into success! Obviously this lesson transcends well beyond crafting.


Sarah Hodsdon read next, and then shared with us the story within the already beautiful story she’d read. Her story’s lesson was that every action, in art, and life, effects those beyond you… beyond what you can even imagine! It turns out that by voting for her in the CHA Designer Showcase last Summer (before we’d met), I in turn helped two children continue their education. Sarah’s reading focused on connections, with family, friends… strangers. Art connects people.


Oh Lauren Ferguson! I knew her as a visual artist, her mixed media style and specialty with altering objects is frequently showcased in the magazines and websites I frequent. While I have her on my blog roll, and treasure her as a source on inspiration. I, like many of you, am a “looker” more than a reader; I tend to scan blogs for pretty pictures like a child would.


But boy oh boy am I sorry I haven’t been following Lauren’s story. This woman is hil-AR-EE-ous. And please, reading her story My Big Girl Moment in the Gym will not do justice to the live performance. I am absolutely sick that I didn’t video tape her kinetics to share with you all (note for next year), because we were literally rolling from laughter. Lesson: it’s not all about your craft; your readers want to know about you, the real, hilarious, pants-splitting you.

Margot Potter was next up… Lauren in her denim and dreads is stark contrast to the sunshine and sarcasm of Margot Potter. Don’t let the point on trend fabric of Madge’s dress and the perfect accessories fool you… this impatient crafter is self-confirmed lazy. Her wonderful word, not mine.

The lesson of her story: to thine own self be true. If you are irreverent, be irreverent, if you are lazy… make it work for you. Don’t compromise your story or your art for the sake of your audience… just try to keep it funny.


In addition to being present for all this wonderful womanliness, Cathy invited me to read. I almost couldn’t; not because of lack of want, but lack of content! It made me realize while I had been sharing my art on my personal blog I hadn’t been sharing my story… and everyone has a story to tell. Heck if you follow my facebook page you know I can talk a blue streak. Why aren’t I writing it all down?

Sure. my photographs, my work, my sketches… it’s are here in my computer and on my desk, but what I set out to do with Craft Critique is all about sharing! Bringing crafters together from different genres of craft… and while we focus mainly on tools here, it’s those tools that are the root of craft. The root of the crafting tree, which branches out reach to many crafty mediums, and crafty people.

The people are the story, and I am not telling the story frequently enough. That’s going to change.

Luckily I did have something to read, and it felt really great to share in the company of this dynamic group of women.


Much thanks to all of you, for telling your stories. Don’t forget to share it with others.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Kitschy Digitals

Reported by Sarah Moore

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!

I am so NOT a digital person. It takes me ages to figure out how to resize stuff and print it. It just isn’t my thing. So I knew digital scrapbooking wasn’t going to be the first thing I would tackle with these kits. But that is what’s so neat-o about Kitschy Digitals. They aren’t just digi-scrap kits… you can use the kits to create totes, iron ons, softies, cupcake toppers, tags, cards, paper dolls… the list is endless!

Danielle Thompson’s Kitschy Digital designs are so EASY to work with! I actually created all of these projects in one day. First on my list was to play with the Woodland Book-Lover’s Printable Kit. Perfect for gift giving. In fact, if you are among my family/friends you should probably stop reading because you might be looking at your Christmas gifts.


I made myself some quick bookplates. I personalized them in Photoshop Elements. Danielle has all sorts of great tutorials to help you with this kind of stuff on her blog.

I didn’t have full sheets of adhesive paper, but look… these Avery labels worked even better! All I had to do was crop the edges, 4 cuts instead of six!


As you can see Danielle has put all the crop marks in for you… just cut on the lines. I didn’t have to resize these .jpgs. I just printed them as-is.


How’s this for an adorable gift… 4 bookmarks in a cello bag with a little topper! These would be terrific for teachers. Matching bag toppers are also included in this kit for the reading logs and bookplates.

Having a bake-sale? the DigiKit – Kawaii Cute Fruits Mini Kit is all you need to tag and display your items in the most adorable way possible.


I especially love the sheets of tags included in this kit, perfect for cards, fortune cookies or cupcake toppers!

Look… the cake is actually ASKING me to eat it! Tee-hee!

The DigiKit – Woodland Book-Lover’s *Add-On* Printable *Stuffie* Kit is a must have. In about 2 hours I was able to make a deer “stuffie”, a baby onesie for a new little friend, and….


… matching book-loving tote bags for my son and I!

Working with iron ons is a whole new world of craft to me… and probably a topic for a whole other review series. As you can see the iron on images are not super crisp, but that was no fault of the images themselves. They printed out wonderfully, and I was really happy with how they turned out on the cotton knit onesie. The canvas bags don’t look bad, just rustic! 🙂 Plus I was able to add my own sayings into the designs.

What’s not to love? As you can see these kits are not just for digital braniacs. Even if you are a tech-moron you can print the images onto nice cardstock and use them immediately. I am so in love with all her images. She really has such a unique style… totally my thing.

Pros:

  • Adorable and unique images that you can manipulate
  • Designed with non digi-types in mind
  • Versatile for multiple genre of crafting

Cons:

  • You will need a printer… a decent one too, or your images just won’t look great (I used an Epson Artisan 800, and it worked beautifully).
  • Printing great-looking images means printing on high quality paper with full ink.
  • Designs are for personal use only. You can not sell items you make with these kits.

Giveaway Time!!! Danielle has generously donated prizes for 2 winners. One winner will get digital kits and one will win print kits/embroidery patterns. All you have to do is leave your comments letting us know what you love about Kitschy Digitals on any of the Kitschy Digitals posts. You have until Friday at Midnight to enter and the winners will be announced on Saturday!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!