10 Cost Saving Benefits for AFCI Retailers

Did you know? Independent and online retailers save thousands of budget dollars annually by taking advantage of cost savings benefits offered through membership with the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). Whether you’re just starting your business or are in need of tools and connections to grow, we can help you take your business from average to astonishing and save you some money along the way.

Here are 10 cost saving benefits that retail members can use starting the day they join.

Cost Saving Benefits for Retailers

Visit the member benefits page to see the full list benefits and ways to save. If you have any questions about joining, call our membership team at (201) 835-1200 or email membership@afci.global.

Managing an International Social Media Presence

By Stitchcraft Marketing


Social media networks have flattened the world, and brands need to consider the whole world as their marketplace. Below are some big-picture ideas and tips that will help you take your brand to the world.

1. Determine Your Channels

Find out which social media channels the customers you want to reach use the most by determining which networks are carrying the traffic you want to be part of in the regions you want to reach. For an overview of the dominant networks worldwide, see Vincenzo Cosenza’s annual World Map of Social Networks.

2. Global, Local or Something in Between?

As you build your brand across an international marketplace, you can take a top-down approach by developing a centralized marketing message that is then tailored for specific countries or regions. Or if you’d rather, you can work from the bottom up, creating or hiring local teams that craft a brand strategy specifically for their local markets.

3. Translating Your Brand Message

There may be important regional and ethnic variations in your message when you are speaking to a global community. Social media marketing has to take both of these ideas into account. Style, terminology, local/regional language, units of measurement are just some of the factors you need to consider. Adapt your style of presentation so that your social media posts fit the culture of the customers you are trying to reach.

4. Culture, Custom and Policy

Once you have crafted a campaign and had it translated for your social media networks in your targeted markets, you also have to make sure that it meets local customs, policies, and laws for advertising and e-commerce.

It’s not impossible to launch your brand into new global markets. With careful research in preparation and informed input from local experts, your craft brand can engage with new customer audiences and grow into a global leader.

Read the full article in the Winter 2018 issue of Gradient.

Stitchcraft Marketing is a niche agency specializing in craft-centric small businesses. Contact the owner, Leanne Pressly at 719-539-3110 or email Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com to learn more.

How Donating Product to the Kids In Need Foundation is a Business Solution

Kids In Need Foundation

At Creativation, the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF), AFCI’s Charity of Choice, received more than $1,000 from The After Party event. A portion of that event’s ticket price was donated to the Four-Star Charity. Also, attendees were invited to bring school supplies or donate $25 to give a backpack filled with supplies to a student in need.

Did you know Creativation is not the only time of year your business can donate to the Kids In Need Foundation? KINF is pleased to offer your company a business solution that not only impacts your bottom line, but supports your community through a seamless donation experience that you expect from your business partners.

  • Capacity: KINF’s National Network can handle quantities from cartons to truckloads
  • Preparedness: Logistics can generally be arranged within 48 –72 hours of
  • Accuracy: Fast, easy paperwork process and tax receipting
  • Accountability: KINF is a Four-Star Charity
  • Efficiency: As an extension of your integrated supply chain, KINF help you get things done
  • Complimentary: No donor is ever charged “processing” or “handling” fees

How can KINF we help?

  • Reducing slow or sunsetting stock at key times of your fiscal year
  • Lessening the impact of packaging and logo changes, misprints, or acquisitions
  • Providing a consistent outlet for seasonal inventory
  • Brand consolidation
  • Facility consolidation
  • Philanthropic alternative to closeout

Product donations made to KINF are redirected, free of charge, to teachers from low-income schools across the country. In 2017, more than 6.2 million students were provided with the tools they need to participate and succeed in the classroom and beyond.

To find out how you can elevate your inventory reduction plan from business decision to
life-changing community investment contact Jennifer Lehman at jenl@kinf.org or call direct at 937-545-0028. Need inventory picked up right away? Complete a product donation form online to get started!

Featured Product: Memory Lights

Memory Lights is a simple to use all in one lighting system for the crafting community that was featured in the Innovations Center at Creativation 2018.

We spoke to Keith Grange, the inventor, who shared more information about his innovation and his experience at Creativation.

Tell us about Memory Lights.

“Memory Lights came about from a simple conversation between my wife, Marcy and I. Marcy asked if I could come up with a simple way for people at her store, Memories and More, to bring illumination to their cards and scrapbooking creations. After some trial and error Memory Lights emerged.”

“The truly unique thing about Memory Lights is that the only thing the crafter needs to do is select where to place the light and they are done. Memory Lights are a light, switch and battery all in one. Adding additional lights is very simple with Memory Lights as well.”

What were your initial goals for participating in the Innovations Center and The Ultimate Pitch?

“Our goals with participation at the Innovation Center were to reach as many potential customers as possible and win The Ultimate Pitch. While we were disappointed with not being selected to participate in the finals, we did meet our primary objective of initiating contact with many potential customers. Just being part of the Innovation Center is a huge win! Participating was a great experience and has accelerated our introduction into the market. One of the biggest bonuses was meeting Scott and Teresa Mullins. They were truly inspirational to us, as well as being true mentors to all the participants.”

What’s the next step for Memory Lights?

“We are already in production and actively pursuing leads from the show. We have some larger orders pending and are expecting to see exponential growth for our product.”

Who would you say is your ideal customer?

“We are seeing demand from a broad range of customers, large retailers, craft channels and single storefronts.”

Where can people purchase the product?

“We are selling directly. Retail customers can purchase through our store Memories and More (www.memorycrafts.ca) and wholesale customers can contact us at memlites@gmail.com.”

“We have many other ideas for the Memory Lights system and will continue development on them to help illuminate creativity. The beauty of our enterprise is that we can service all types of customers, right from individual users through our storefront, Memories and More, all the way to large retailers through MemoryLights.ca.”

Click here to see more innovations launched at Creativation 2018 and event highlights.

Staying Relevant in the Digital Age: Key Trends to Watch for in 2018

By Shama Hyder, Chief Executive Officer of Marketing Zen Group and Creativation 2018 Keynote Speaker

Creativity is something that the craft and hobby industry and the marketing industry share in common. It’s the lifeblood of our businesses, the key to our success, something we pride ourselves on and something we’re passionate about. And that’s great news, because in 2018, our collective creativity will be called upon more than ever when it comes to staying relevant in the digital age.

In years past, it was enough to have a website and presence on social media, do some blogging and some emailing, and maybe run some online ads. But that’s begun to change.

So what does this mean for your business? How can companies in the craft and hobby industry flex their creative muscles and tap into this new reality? Here are some of the best places to start.

Staying Relevant In the Digital AgeInfographic_Gradient

Read Shama’s full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at www.afci.global.

The Latest Viral Sensation Hitting Craft Stores Across the Nation

It’s only three months into 2018 and the Internet has already seen many viral sensations, from the Google Arts & Culture app’s face match to Super Bowl Selfie Kid to Pita Taufatofua’s return to the Olympics. Thanks to 22-year-old Kelsey Maggart, the latest viral meme is your local craft store’s floral section. People are taking pictures in the floral aisle in a way that it doesn’t look like they’re in a retail store.

Here’s Kelsey’s Twitter post that started it all.


AFCI staff members Cassandra, Raquel and Kristen couldn’t resist giving it a try.




And here are some of our favorite pictures we found on Instagram.






Join in the fun! We want to see your pictures! Share your floral photo shoot pictures using the hashtag #MichaelsChallenge!

And please, do your best not to leave a mess for the employees of the store!

Got Creator Problems? Enter Our National Craft Month Contest!

For National Craft Month 2018, we’re looking for funny problems that all crafters can relate to!

Share an original “creator problem” on social media using the hashtag #MyCreatorProblem by March 15. You’ll automatically be entered into a drawing to win 4 tickets to In The MKNG™, the creativity festival, September 29-30, 2018 in Bethel, New York! We’ll announce the winner on March 20!

What is a creator problem? See some that we’ve come up with below. You can explore more creator problems on our Pinterest!



Questions about participating? Contact Kristen Farrell, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, at kfarrell@afci.global.

Featured Technique – Oil Pastel Smudge

The Oil Pastel Smudge Technique is an innovative technique that was invented by AFCI Designer Member, Carol Foldvary-Anderson and featured in the Innovations Center at Creativation 2018. We spoke to Carol to learn more about the technique and her experience at Creativation!


Tell us about the Oil Pastel Smudge Technique.

“The Oil Pastel Smudge technique has been favorably recognized by the Nevada State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts for the technique’s ‘unique ability to encompass’ the use of geometry, spacial relationships, color theory and individual creativity. Handmade templates are utilized, and the basic shapes are explored, in creating beautiful and successful art and images that interest the individual. One is able to create landscapes, florals, abstracts and more in this exciting, and easy to teach and learn technique. For those that need a little more confidence we have predesigned templates to work with too!

The technique is fun in playing and experimenting with color, and can give the final look of artwork the seeming effect of either working in silk painting, colored pencil or pens, and even watercolors. The blending of the various oil pastel colors one chooses to work is the joy, excitement and surprise in experiencing and working in the Oil Pastel Smudge technique.”

What was your initial goal for participating in the Innovations Center and The Ultimate Pitch?

“Obviously the $10,000 grand prize and the recognition of winning the Ultimate Pitch would bring to the technique an enhanced verification, validation and endorsement. The funds would go to the creating of several how to video’s and securing licenses with top players in the industry. Further development of a product line and moving forward in the direction that I see possible with the technique.”

What was some valuable feedback you got out of this experience?

“I received some fabulous valuable feedback! Several AFCI members that stopped by the Innovations Center gave me the thumbs up that I would be the winner. That was most encouraging. A shout out to those who support me and the technique, thank you!

By just being involved in the first round was a definite plus, and just the advantage I needed to getting the word out regarding the technique, and finding the right direction in taking the next step forward.”

What’s the next step for you and The Oil Pastel Smudge Technique?

“The next step…fine-tuning what I have already created. Developing a full complete and cohesive line of products to enhance the Oil Pastel Smudge experience, and securing the sourcing and distribution channels available. I am also working on more then what I have already created in the pre-designed templates “Smudgers” can work with. There is lots to do and be excited about!”

Who would you say is the ideal user of your technique?

“The ideal user would be interested in creating beautiful handmade art with oil pastels in a technique that they may not have considered or been introduced to in the past. Anyone that loves to work with color is a perfect and ideal user of the technique. It has so many possibilities with “Smudging” on different colored papers, fabric and prepared wood. I envision teachers in the K-12 grades being able to help those students that are struggling with math by giving them an ah ha moment to understand math from a visual perceptive by offering the technique in the schools and communities.”

How can a user learn more about the technique?

“Please visit the website OilPastelSmudge.com and Facebook page, Oil Pastel Smudge, or contact me directly at ART@OilPastelSmudge.com or 775-721-5338. I will get back to you as soon as I can.”

Click here to see more innovations launched at Creativation 2018 and event highlights.

FeatureD Product – ShardWorx® Kits for Kids

Mary Hong is an award-winning and successful artist and entrepreneur whose work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Coastal Lifestyle magazine, and more. She invented ShardWorx®, which is a new type of craft that uses glass, resin, and a canvas. Mary’s new product, ShardWorx® Kits for Kids, was selected as one of 12 new and innovative products that was featured at Creativation 2018.


We spoke to Mary, who shared more information about her innovation and her experience at Creativation.

Tell us about ShardWorx® and the new Kits for Kids.

“ShardWorx® is artwork made with glass on a painted surface!”

ShardWorx® Kits for Kids is our brand’s newest art kit geared towards kids 8 years of age and older! It’s a spin-off of our ever-popular ShardWorx® Art Kit that uses epoxy resin to cover the glass on the canvas. An adult must do the job of preparing the resin. But with the Kids Kit, there’s no resin! A non-toxic glue that dries clear is first applied to the canvas, then a child can easily arrange the glass in the design they want, and the next day, they have a glassy masterpiece to hang on their wall! The designs are fun and bright and shiny! It’s like mosaics but better! It takes a child about 30 minutes to complete their design and the kit has everything they need! The kits can be used for an art class, an art party, or just solo creative time.”

k4k butterfly

What was your experience in the Innovations Center ?

“I got a lot of exposure to many people. I got a lot of smiles and ‘way-to-go’s’. I had buyers that were ready to buy, but I wasn’t quite ready to sell! I had to explain that we were still in test mode.”

What’s the next step for you and ShardWorx® Kits for Kids?

“The next step is to get better and more affordable packaging.”

Who would you say is your ideal customer?

“My ideal customer is a busy mom that wants a creative all-in-one craft kit that their child can sit down and enjoy doing on their own, and complete it in less than 30 minutes.”

When and where can a person purchase the product?

“ShardWorx® Kits for Kids will launch on our website ShardWorx.com in early April 2018. Our ShardWorx® Art Kits (with resin) are already available on Amazon.com and ShardWorx.com.”

Click here to see more innovations launched at Creativation 2018 and event highlights.

5 Trends in Children’s Crafts in 2018

Guest post by MaryAnne Kochenderfer


Creativation is the place to be if you want to spot new craft trends! The 2018 Creativation show featured a broad range of innovative products. Today I’m showcasing products that filled five trends I’ve identified in children’s crafts for 2018.


Animal themes are very popular for children’s kits right now! From dogs and cats to giraffes, elephants, and mystical unicorns and dragons, there’s an animal for everyone.

Yarn Art

Companies are looking at fun ways to incorporate yarn into children’s crafting. From Big Stitch wood cross stitch kids to Craft-tastic wrapped yarn kits to Bergere dress an animal kits to Hoooked crochet animal kits, there is truly something for everyone! Hooked rug and yarn art kits were also on display, as well as tools for making pom-poms.


Low Stress Kits

Parents are overloaded with jobs. They want their children to get creative and unplug from screens, but messy play feels overwhelming. Brands are creatively working around this with products that minimize the mess and the amount of set-up that parents need to do. Coloring books have taken off, and Crayola upped the game with vanishing numbers color by number sets. Kits like the Craft-tastic Puppy Love Kit allow children to create a finished looking product with minimal set-up. Diamond Dotz will engage older children through teens without requiring the use of scissors or glue.

Companies are also creating ways to make traditionally messy materials less overwhelming. Sargent Art now offers their paints in six jar trays to make set-up and clean-up easier for parents and educators.

Child Safety

Safety is a top priority for parents. Products like Play Mais allow parents to allow even the youngest children to engage in creative play. This building material from Germany is created using corn grits and water. It is biodegradeable, and colored using food coloring. Children stick the pieces together using water on a sponge.

The Perler H2O line allows children to create from small beads that fuse with water instead of the heat of an iron. Perler Stixels use the traditional beads, but children place them in a no-iron silicone pegboard.

Wood Crafting

It’s no surprise that the resurgence of wooden children’s toys has also led to an increased interest in wood based children’s crafts. The Works of Ahhh…. Line from MasterPieces allows children to paint their own 3D wooden toys. They can also paint their project via an app, and enter to win a monthly contest. MasterPieces caught my eye for offering more kits that would appeal to boys, or come across as more gender neutral. This is an important gap that continues to need filling in the children’s craft world.

What I Hope to See More Of Next Year

As a parent and educator, I hope to see more and more gender neutral craft kits for kids, as well as more opportunities for children to customize their creations. I think that craft kits are wonderful for teaching skills and introducing children to new ideas, but I think there is still room to encourage children to get creative as they develop skill sets. Children surrounded by creative parents and caregivers and educators are typically given this opportunity. Thoughtfully created kits can open up this world of possibilities for first generation crafters.

About the Author

MaryAnne blogs at Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting, Great Family Reads, and Top Toy Finds. You can also follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad – One of the Top 4 Creative Innovations of 2018

The patent-pending DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad by Blissfu Studio helps upgrade the sketchbook/drawing pad function by turning the flat drawing paper into a 3D frame art ready for display. It inspires creativity in adults and children by celebrating their projects.

DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad was featured in the Innovations Center and was one of the top 4 innovations selected to participate in The Ultimate Pitch at Creativation 2018. We spoke to inventor Yee Wong, who shared more information about her innovation and her experience at Creativation.


What were your initial goals for participating in the Innovations Center and The Ultimate Pitch?
“Coming from the small country Malaysia located in Southeast Asia, our initial goal was to expose our new product DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad to the international communities. We hoped to knock on doors, make connections and collaborate with the right partner to help us take our innovative product to the global market. We came in with low expectations. In fact, we only aimed to be in The Ultimate Pitch in order for us to showcase our innovation to all the judges, without realizing we were so close to winning it. We highly appreciate the opportunity presented to us by being nominated as one of the Top Innovations Finalists. The Ultimate Pitch was such an amazing and exciting platform to kick-start the launch of our new product.”

What was some valuable feedback you got out of this experience?
“The experience and feedback we have received from the Creativation folks are beyond our expectations. DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad is a simple concept whereby the always flat and basic drawing pad is transformed instantly into 3D frame art for display on easel or hung on the wall. They have been praising it as a cool and smart idea and wanted to know where they can get it: Michaels, JOANN, or Walmart? Bloggers gave us their contact information for the chance to feature and review our product. Amazingly, The Ultimate Pitch host and actress from The Walking Dead, Kerry Cahill loved our product and even gave us her contact information because she wants to buy it too! The whole experience makes us want to start the production for our DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad right away!”

What’s the next step for you and the DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad?
“Recently, we have received the green light in our country to submit for an International Patent for our DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad and we intend to get it done first. We are looking forward to collaborating with our local manufacturers with their own distribution and export channels. Over at Creativation, we met some Chinese and Indian buyers who are interested in our product as well, so hopefully we will get to expand into the China and India markets too. We are so excited to see where they will lead us.”

Who would you say is your ideal customer?
“When we first created the DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad, our goal was to bring change and excitement to the classic yet humble drawing pad, which has stayed flat for centuries. We hope to bring new joy and delight to children everywhere in creating their own masterpieces in this unassuming piece of flat paper that can be transformed into 3D frame art ready for display. Overall, it will encourage a sense of achievement and accomplishment in children by proudly displaying their artwork properly in a 3D frame. The potential for our product is huge, especially as a supporting art material in art education, as well as in creative hobbies for adults. It is going to be very convenient, cost effective, and your imagination is the only limit when using our DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad.”

Where can people purchase the product?
“Presently we are still in production stage and with the right manufacturer, we hope to launch our DIY Frame Art Drawing Pad by the first half of 2018. For product updates, please visit www.blissfustudio.com.”

Click here to see more innovations launched at Creativation 2018 and event highlights.

6 Killer Website Tactics To Stand Out

Did you know? Last month 87.1 million posts were published on WordPress. That amounts to nearly 3 million blog posts a day on a single platform.

When it comes to blogging and content marketing, it is no longer enough to create content at a regular interval. With so much content being posted every single day on dozens of platforms, creative businesses need to find a way to ensure that their content stands out in all that noise.

While many companies often have one-time successes with click bait titles or strive to create that one viral sensation, there is one thing that can help you stand out every single time – authority.

Stuart Hochwert of Prime Publishing LLC shares 6 authority signals and how to incorporate them into your website.

WEBSITE TACTICS Infographic_Gradient

Read Stuart’s full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at www.afci.global.

The Folklore Company – One of the Top 4 Creative Innovations of 2018

The Folklore Company launched with the vision of making embroidery more accessible to more people by delivering an inspiring website where people can design a personal cross stitch pattern in an easy, unique and modern way.

The Folklore Company was featured in the Innovations Center and was one of the top 4 innovations selected to participate in The Ultimate Pitch at Creativation 2018. We spoke to Sofia Magnusson, the founder, who shared more information about her innovation and her experience at Creativation.

What was your initial goal for participating in the Innovations Center and The Ultimate Pitch?

“Our initial goal was to get feedback on our software from the craft industry. We needed to know for sure that what we can offer is unique, and also what people working in the business thought of it. There’s only so much you can do online from home, so we felt that a visit to Creativation was needed.”

What was some valuable feedback you got out of this experience?

“We got some good suggestions on new features to develop for the software.”

What’s the next step for The Folklore Company?

“Full speed ahead! We’re going to develop the features that we got feedback about, but also kick off our marketing strategy and get more people to love what we offer.”

Who would you say is your ideal customer?

“Anyone who is curious about embroidery, or even those who aren’t, but by accident visits our website, gets inspired and wants to try! As our vision – and mission – is to get more people to embroider, we are thrilled for all our customers. (But we have seen that the majority who buys our products are women in the age of 25-45.)”

Where can people purchase a custom pattern?

“At Folklorecompany.com.”

D-Stash – The New Resell App for the Creative Community

Ja’De Hardiman invented D-Stash to give crafters who are searching for a specific item a simple solution. D-Stash is an easy-to-use app for the creative community that crafters can use to sell and buy products within minutes of downloading.

Ja’De launched D-Stash in the Innovations Center at Creativation 2018. How could your creative business benefit from D-Stash? Watch this video to learn more about Ja’De’s experience at Creativation and how you can use D-Stash.

AFCI Honors 2018 Industry Awards and Hall of Fame Inductees

This morning we were pleased to honor our 2018 Industry Awards and Hall of Fame, recognizing excellence in industry service and philanthropy. This year’s honorees are Jill MacKay, Jim Scatena, and Robert Workman. These individuals were nominated by their AFCI member peers and selected by the AFCI Industry Awards Committee, which is comprised of AFCI Board Members and member volunteers.

The Special Recognition Award is given to individuals or groups for their extraordinary contributions in positively showcasing the creative products industry. This year’s recipient is Jill MacKay.

Jill MacKay is an accomplished designer, author and consultant with more than 25 years’ experience working in the creative industries. MacKay’s jewelry currently sells in over 2,000 stores internationally, on television, and online. In addition, MacKay has voluntarily spearheaded government and community programs that provided life changing experiences for people suffering from illnesses through arts and crafts. “[MacKay has been] Using creativity and the arts to help solve problems for children and adults in places it has never gone before, to serve those who have never been served by the arts before,” said Jennifer Davey, Designer, who nominated MacKay.

Inductees of the Hall of Fame are pioneers who have made extraordinary contributions leading to the growth and success of their organizations and the creative arts industry. This year’s inductees are Jim Scatena and Robert Workman.

Jim Scatena is a recognized industry leader who served as Chair of the Board of the Association. He is also the former President & CEO of FloraCraft Corporation; Vice President and General Manager of Wilton Enterprises; and Director of Sales with the art materials division of Binney & Smith. “His energetic contributions of time and creativity to [the Association’s] Committees and Boards were constant through his career. Add in his mentoring of fellow industry members and you have a role model for all future leaders,” said Mike McCooey of Plaid Enterprises Inc, who nominated Scatena.

Robert Workman worked in the craft industry for 27 years and served on the Association’s Board for six years. He purchased Provo Craft from his parents in 1985 and led Provo Craft & Novelty, Inc. to become the leader in craft innovation. In addition, he is the Founder of Goal Zero, an industry leader for renewable and reliable solar power. “He was an innovator that started trends for crafters in the creative industry as well as helped to invent and produce new products and trends that helped grow the industry and contribute to the growth and success of retailers,” said Gail Czech, who nominated Workman. “He is a humanitarian and has created many philanthropic venues to support the poor and underdeveloped countries and people worldwide.”

Watch the video below for more information about our Hall of Fame inductees.

Tapping into Attitudes, Emotions, and Values for Craft and Hobby Marketing


This article provided courtesy of Stitchcraft Marketing, a niche agency specializing in craft-centric small businesses. If you’d like more information about anything contained in this article, feel free to contact the owner of Stitchcraft Marketing, Leanne Pressly at Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com for more information.

Annual sales of $36 billion. It describes the amount of money spent annually in the US on the major categories of crafts and hobbies, according to the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update created by MaritzCX for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). Among American households, 62% participated in some kind of craft activity in the preceding twelve months and almost a third participated in one to three different activities within that year. It’s a big market whose consumers have discretionary income to spend on the materials and tools associated with their preferred crafts and hobbies. Successful marketing will incorporate appeals to the attitudes, emotions, and values they associate with their crafting. Here, we share some insights from the MaritzCX study to help you find the best approach to market to your customers.

The study defined eleven broad categories of crafts:

  • Paper crafts
  • Beads and jewelry
  • Floral crafting
  • Edible arts
  • Wood crafts and home decor
  • Knitting and crochet
  • Needle arts
  • Sewing and fabric
  • Painting and drawing
  • Kids’ crafts
  • Other

Survey participants rated their emotions, values, and affinities about craft participation on a size-point scale from lowest to highest association over a range of keywords, which are highlighted in bold italics*. (Associated marketing concepts are also highlighted.) What emerged was a clear picture of positive associations that manufacturers and retailers can employ to market their products effectively to their intended audience. There’s enough consensus across the craft categories to make some general recommendations, but we will break out specific crafts when the differences are significant.


There’s no doubt crafting makes people feel good, but they give the highest associations to feeling relaxed and proud as they engage in their crafts. That means that crafting is an antidote to the other stresses in their lives, and they are willing to spend both time and money to access that sense of relaxation. In current terms, crafting is a form of self-care, not unlike a pedicure, a massage, or a new set of high thread-count sheets. Product marketing that appeals to a desire for accessible luxury also taps into the high association with relaxation.

The pride crafters feel in their work and the projects they produce suggests that they value the skills they have learned and the appearance and/or utility of their projects. The craft segment mostly highly associated with pride was painting and drawing; the sewing and fabric segment and the knitting and crochet segment gave it the second highest association assignment. Being proud to wear something a crafter has made puts fashion, style, and skill into the mix of positive associations for these craft categories.

We note, too, that the craft category of Edible Arts is an outlier in the survey of emotional associations. Participants in this craft associated it most highly with feeling joyful and excited. Coupling those emotions with food brings celebration to mind as a concept around which to appeal to crafters in this category.


Closely associated with the emotion of pride is the value of accomplishment, which received the highest or second-highest rating across 9 out of 11 craft categories. It’s clear that crafters value the end product of their efforts as well as the process of creating them. Crafting is not merely a pastime such as playing games or assembling jigsaw puzzles – rather, it’s an investment of mental and physical energy around an envisioned result. Crafters are makers, and making is a part of their self-identity. Whether they keep the things they make or give them to others, the association with accomplishment means that they intend their work to have a life beyond its completion. Heritage, memory, and legacy could be ways in which crafters think of their work in relationship to the rest of their lives.

Again, within the survey of values associations, the Edible Arts category stands out. According to participants, they strongly associate Edible Arts with warm relationships, as well as being fun and enjoyable. These are not surprising results, as they track closely with the emotional associations mentioned above. While crafters may engage in any of the craft categories on their own behalf, food, by both quantity and effort, is more likely to be shared or gifted and thus have an impact on relationships in a way the other craft categories do not. As for the fun and enjoyment aspect, eating the end result of a craft project might be more fun than wearing it or looking at it! So although Edible Arts as a craft category is directed toward appearance and presentation, deliciousness, flavor, and taste also matter to these crafters.


As we said earlier, crafting is a segment of the maker culture, and in this way creates a sense of cultural identity for its participants. By realizing that crafters, especially the millennials, see themselves as having as much in common with artisanal food producers (like beer or kombucha brewers) , the Maker Hacks community (such as those who share 3-D printers in their maker spaces), as well as traditional domestic arts, you can reach them by appealing to their affinity associations.

Across craft categories, survey respondents assigned the highest or second highest association rating to the idea that their craft makes them feel special. It is something they do that sets them apart from the general population and shows that they are people who are willing to value time and effort over convenience. Crafting is a way they express their individuality and creativity. It is also something that they strongly associate with missing if it were no longer a part of their lives. That missing has such a high association across craft categories suggest that an opportunity exists to reach out to crafters who used to (engage in a particular craft), reminding them of the enjoyment, fun, and relaxation crafting once brought to their lives. Remembering the pleasure of accomplishment and pride that one craft creates can provide a bridge to expanding a crafter’s repertoire.

Using the positive emotional, value, and affinity associations that crafters cite aligns your brand with the reasons they engage in crafts and need your products and materials. By incorporating these associations into your marketing campaigns such as blog posts, social media posts and e-newsletters you are more likely to reach those emotional touchpoints that are as strong as their practical needs.

*bolded words are directly from the survey or suggested marketing concepts to use in your marketing.

For more information about the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update and to obtain a copy, visit research.afci.global.

A Cut Above the Rest Home Electronic Cutting Machine

This is a sponsored post by Brother International Corporation .

Brother_DesignNCut_DC200 for Blog Post

Brother International Corporation introduced DesignNCut, an affordable home electronic cutting machine, to Brother’s growing lineup of crafting tools. DesignNCut can precisely cut designs (from simple to very intricate) into a wide variety of materials: paper, fabric, felt, foam, vinyl, iron-on, leather, plastic, wood veneer, and poster board. The new machine is now available at Michaels stores (.com), selected Joann stores (.com), and other .com retailers.

“DesignNCut is the perfect tool for makers, students, designers, hobbyists, and DIY enthusiasts for their everyday crafting needs,” shared Jim Price, Senior Director of Sales for Brother. “We’re excited to be offering an easy-to-use machine at an affordable price point with the same cutting force and speed as the ScanNCut that our customers have come to love. Once you are ready to cut, draw, emboss, or perforate, the DesignNCut user-friendly system makes it easy as 1-2-3 to create your projects.”

Ultimate Makers Machine!
In addition to its precision cutting technology, DesignNCut offers an array of functions with its optional line of accessories to deep cut, draw, line emboss, or create rhinestone templates. With its range of versatile functions, the possibilities of creating mixed media projects are endless. Plus, the machine has great features for those who love to use fabric! Creating your seam allowance will be simple and quick.

Starting a Project is Simple!
Users can use their mobile device or computer to access our free; no subscription required internet based editing tool for DesignNCut with hundreds of ready to use clipart, fonts, logo and projects, with step by step instructions and videos. With DesignNCut and the cloud-based design software’s easy to use interface end users can start and edit their projects with ease. Also, our cloud-based software reads .svg files along with the proprietary cut file extension. Many of the cut files you may have already purchased can now be used.

CaptureMat Function
With its CaptureMat function instead of the built-in scanner, you can now conveniently us your camera or mobile device to photograph your favorite design to create a cut file.

Best Cut Quality, Speed, and Accuracy
DesignNCut has the same cutting force and speed as the ScanNCut that our customers have come to love. With DesignNCut virtually anyone can make precision cuts in a wide variety of materials. The machine has approximately 1,280 cutting force (grams of force) and maximum speed up to 112 MMs. Using the optional deep cut blade, the machine can cut up to 2 mm thick. Using the 12” x 12” mat users can cut up to 11.6” x 11.7” and the 12” x 24” mat has cutting size of 11.6” x 23.7”.

For more product information, please visit www.designncutbybrother.com, and visit us at booth #2513 at Creativation.

For purchasing opportunity, please visit Notions Marketing Corporation booth # 2601 at Creativation.

Join Therm O Web at Creativation!

This is a guest, sponsored post by Therm O Web.
Join the celebration! FacebookWe’re celebrating that the winter Creativation Show is just around the corner in sunny Phoenix Arizona. Therm O Web is excited to bring you brand new, innovative products that will have you stamping your feet!

Our Deco Foil™ product line has continued to be a huge success with our consumers and re-tailers and with that success, we continue to build and grow the line. This year we’re pleased to announce 6 NEW colors to the Deco Foil™ color line. Introducing (from left to right):

Wild Cherry, Denim, Jade, Plum, Silver Shattered Glass and Gold Shattered Glass which are dynamic foils!

2018 New Deco Foil Colors

With the addition of these 6 new colors that brings the total up to 35 amazing choices of Deco Foil™ Transfer Sheets. Our Transfer Sheets work beautifully with our core adhesive products: Deco Foil™ Transfer Gel, Deco Foil™ Liquid Adhesive, Deco Foil™ Foam Sheets, Deco Foil™ Hot Melt Sheets, Deco Foil™ PeelnStick Toner Sheets, Deco Foil™ Toner Sheets, Deco Foil™ Fusible Spray and our Deco Foil™ Adhesive Pen! Here are some examples of the beautiful pro-jects you can make with our Deco Foil™ Products!



In addition to our new Deco Foil™ colors, we have some exciting new products! We’re thrilled to introduce our new Deco Foil Designer Stencils available in 6 unique designs.

Our Deco Foil Transfer Gel is the perfect medium to use with our Designer Stencils and Transfer Sheets to create stunning projects! Simply apply a coat of the Deco Foil Transfer Gel over the Designer Stencil. Allow time to dry. Then place the item along with the Deco Foil Transfer Sheet of your choice in your laminator to heat set the foil to the Transfer Gel. Our NEW Designer Stencils will add a unique and dimensional texture to projects. With unlimited options of how you can work with them from inks, sprays, paints….you’ll find yourself reaching for them over and over again. Here’s a sneak peek of one of our new releases:


Creativation headerThis year Therm O Web is excited to be offering three unique workshops at Creativation. We’re looking forward to having you join us for workshops featuring our NEW Gina K. Designs products, Rebekah’s Meier’s Mixed Media line and our newest Deco Foil products to jazz up your scrapbook pages! You won’t want to miss these outstanding work-shops!

To kick things off join us for W106 Mix Up Your Scrapbook Pages with Deco Foil & More on January 18th from 12pm-1:30 pm. We’ll show you some exciting techniques to jazz up your layouts with our Deco Foil products.

Time toCelebrate (1)

W208 will have you Celebrating In Style with our NEWEST Gina K. Designs product line! Join us on January 19th from 11-12:30 pm for a fun workshop filled with NEW Gina K. Designs products from Therm O Web.

Then join Designer Rebekah Meier at our W216 Mix It Up with Rebekah Meier’s New Mixed Media Products workshop on January 19th from 2-4 pm. Rebekah will guide you through how to create this unique mixed media album filled with techniques for getting the most from her Therm O Web product line.

Dream Binder

blog-header-new-logo-1Be sure to stop by our Booth #3001 at the show to see all of our NEWEST products and to join us for a make n take! For more information about all of our prod-ucts, visit us online at www.thermowebonline.com. Visit our blog for projects, tutorials and step by step instructions on how to use our products! And be sure to sign up for our news-letter to keep updated on what’s happening at Therm O Web!

Join us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter too! We’ll see you at the show!

Maximizing Your Exhibitor Marketing Opportunities For Creativation:

stitchcraft-logos-final-blueThis article is brought to you by our platinum partner, Stitchcraft Marketing. Learn more about SCM at http://www.stitchcraftmarketing.com or email leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com.

As you read this, you’re probably scrambling like we are to get ready for AFCI’s Creativation show January 18-22, 2018. As a first-time exhibitor and platinum partner, we’re scrambling too!

We’ve been to a few trade shows before and we wanted to share with you our best practices for making the most of your time there.

Pre-Market with Direct Mail:
Pre-marketing to attendees can be a great way to help your customers cut through the clutter at the show. AFCI provides exhibitors with a Creativation attendees list of those who have opted-in to receive exhibitor communications, along with other marketing tools that help to raise awareness of your brand.

Because direct mail is enjoying a resurgence as an effective marketing technique, you could send out a postcard to the most promising leads. Showing a photo of your product or promoting your make-and-take events at the show might garner you some attention and traffic. Utilize a fast digital printer like Overnight Prints to generate collateral materials. Pricing is around $100 for 2,000 postcards. SCM Agency tip: Search the web for promo coupons before you pay full price!

Go to the Events:
Yes, we know you’re exhausted after talking to folks all day long, but The After Party event and cocktail hours can be one of the best places to network and form new business relationships. At Creativation, there are many great events all available to exhibitors with the full list available here.


Digitize Business Cards:
Of course you gather business cards while at the show. Unfortunately, most people probably get home and don’t remember anyone and just throw them out. This is a missed opportunity considering the value of a new customer. Fortunately digital technology can help you raise your efficiency in capturing those leads. We recommend the free Wantedly People app for both Android and iOS which can take a photo of several business cards at once and import and synchronize the information for you. ABBYY Business Card Reader ($7.99 per month) is another highly rated scanner that saves contacts to your address book. They also have SalesForce integration or can import to your desktop as well as your mobile device. Evernote users can scan cards directly into the notes app. SCM Agency Tip: The Creativation app also has an attendees section where you can set appointments and connect for later follow-up.

Set Up an Email Automation Sequence:
Following the show, it’s important to make a connection right away with your prospective customers. Having those contacts entered into your email platform is the first step. We advise that before the show, you create an automation sequence that will automatically send a series of correspondence. The ideal sequence would be 3 emails: One that goes out within 24-48 hours with a friendly follow up greeting; the next that goes out 7-10 days following the show with your brand story and the last one 2 weeks later with a sales offer. If you have a robust platform such as Sharpspring or HubSpot, you can activate the second and third emails based on a trigger such as how fast they opened the email or whether they did NOT open at all. Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer automation configuration at the paid levels only and there are many help/support resources for learning how to set these up. SCM Agency tip: If you segment your customers, formulate a code for those and indicate them on the business cards you collect and create different automations accordingly. For example, we segment yarn, fabric and hard craft clients and notate a Y, F or H on the cards where it’s not obvious.

Don’t Forget Social Media:
Social is a great tool to utilize before, during and after the trade show. During Creativation, you can utilize the Creativation app–available on both Android and iOS to quickly track and post social media posts. Tap the “Social” icon from the dashboard home screen and connect your accounts for ease in posting. Be sure to post your “behind the scenes” booth setup shots which tend to garner higher engagement rates. The official hashtag for the show is #Creativation18. If you’re feeling brave, Facebook Live is an excellent platform to broadcast from your booth with a virtual tour.

Stop by and see us, Stitchcraft Marketing, in booth 416 and let us know what else you do to maximize the opportunity.

Meet Rita Barakat & Why She’s Excited For Creativation

This is a guest post by Rita Barakat.

Pic 1 RitaBarakat.com Buttons
Hey there creatives, Rita Barakat here today! Are you getting excited about Creativation? There are so many opportunities to take advantage of at the show; taking classes that affect your business is one of them! Today I want to share two opportunities that you don’t want to miss!

Pic 2 roundtables

I will be hosting the AFCI Designer Round Table Discussions on Friday, January 19 from 8am-10am. If you’ve never been, there are several tables set up with a speaker at each table on a different topic. Each speaker shares for about 15 minutes and then is open for questions and answers for about five minutes, and then we change tables. There is a wealth of information brought to you by the AFCI Designer Section as well as others that we have invited from the industry to speak. The speakers are all experts in their field and this is a great way to get your questions answered in a small group setting. In addition, this is a great networking opportunity so bring your business cards!

Pic 3 Mixed Media Bootcamp

As an artist and teacher at heart, I love to share about art and ways that people can get involved and excited about it. I will be teaching Mixed Media Boot Camp on Sunday, January 21 from 3pm-5pm. Not only will we be creating this fun mixed media art journal, but we will talk about how to get your customers excited about mixed media, visual art, and visual journaling! Here’s a sneak peek.

Of course, everyone’s project will be different; yours may or may not include mermaids (I, of course, provide the opportunity!) I would love to have you join me in this class! This is going to be fun!

Both classes are open to all. You can register for them here.

There are so many things to see and learn at Creativation! I hope to see you there! I will be shooting videos and walking around, and if you see me be sure to ask for a button!
pic 4 Rita Barakat headshot

About Rita Barakat

Rita Barakat is published and licensed artist that creates whimsical, fun and inspirational art. Her preference is mixed media, not wanting to be tied down to one medium or style. From wall murals to itty-bitty minis, Rita has worked on numerous art projects for hospitals, corporations, families and manufacturers. She is an educator and designer. She works with many notable manufacturers in the industry. Rita, her husband and five kids reside in the Dallas area. When she is not doing art or hanging out with her kids, she is leading the worship team or working with her husband as the youth pastors at their church. You can learn more about Rita at http://RitaBarakat.com.

New Year, New Focus on Advocacy


As we begin the New Year, AFCI is excited to announce our new Advocacy Program and Committee. Through this program, AFCI is committed to supporting and educating our 2,000+ members on various regulatory topics that are important to you and the industry as a whole. Our Committee is chaired by Bobbie Medema, CEO of Notions Marketing and is made up of the following volunteers:

  • Brigid English, Vice President of Global Sourcing and Product Integrity, Michaels Stores Inc
  • Mark Lee, President, DreamSolutions Marketing Corp
  • Karen Waters, Director, International Sales & Brand Business Development, Crayola
  • Bob Bonilla, COO, PMA Photo Metals
  • Scott Remmers, Owner, Brea Bead Works
  • Joanne Fink, President, Zenspirations LLC
  • Roberta Birnbaum, Owner, DecorablesArt
  • Tammy Browning-Smith, Attorney at Law, Browning-Smith P.C.

Thanks to your feedback to our recent survey, the Committee will be focusing on these issues in 2018.

  • Intellectual Property
  • Proposition 65

In the coming months we’ll provide you with information on each of these issues as well as ways you can get involved.

For questions regarding our advocacy efforts, or if you’re interested in volunteering in the future, please contact Jason Baum, Director of Membership, at jbaum@afci.global.

Meet Stitchcraft Marketing


Stitchcraft Marketing recently joined AFCI as a platinum partner. Located in Colorado, the niche specialty agency was founded in 2009 and focuses solely on creative craft companies. Jason Baum, Director of Partnerships, sat down with CEO, Leanne Pressly to learn more about the agency and the services they offer to AFCI members.

Jason: Great to have you onboard as an AFCI partner Member, Leanne. Let’s chat a bit about your agency so folks know what you offer our members.

Leanne: Thanks Jason, we’re excited to be partnering with AFCI and to be able to help your members with their marketing.

Jason: I understand you ONLY work with craft companies, is that correct?

Leanne: Yes, that’s true. Everyone who works at the agency comes from a crafty background so we really understand the industry. We get a lot of clients who “deflect” from traditional marketing agencies because of some sort of misunderstanding of the target consumer. We just saw one recent blunder where Zulilly posted a knitting project on Facebook and encouraged customers to pick up their crochet hook and get working on it! That’s a classic example. When you are running a busy company, you need to feel confident that anyone you outsource marketing to will communicate with your customers in a voice and language they understand.

Jason: Oh, absolutely. That’s critical. What is the most common thing you do for clients?

Leanne: Most clients come to us because they need help with planning, strategizing and implementing social media. They’re typically a small company with limited time and resources. They really want to be focusing on the creative aspect of their business or doing things only they can do but they know social is important and they need help executing on that. By working with us, they can quickly and easily take that huge task off their plate and get back to working ON their business and not in it.

Jason: And how does that work in terms of the daily operations?

Leanne: That’s a good question we get all the time! After we determine the scope of the program, we outline quarterly themes and content for that client and provide them with an easy-to-follow spreadsheet. Every client has a monthly check-in meeting with an account executive to discuss and sometimes revise the plan for that month. We work with the client to develop the content whether that’s newsletters, blog articles, flat lay photography or digital ads. We also have administrative access to their social channels so we can take care of all the posting.

Jason: So newsletters are part of the program too?

Leanne: Sure! Every client has a customized program because every company has different goals and needs so we do much more than just social. Most of them want us to do their newsletter so we manage that completely. We also can help them grow or segment their list and set up automation sequence emails that go out with a specific trigger. One of the other popular programs we have is Sharpspring marketing automation. That is a really robust program that can help clients create sales funnels and score leads for better targeting.

Jason: And typically, how long does it take to see success with your agency?

Leanne: Well that depends on how the client defines “success.” We always are striving for ROI because sales is the name of the game, right? We always set those goals up front so we know when we have achieved success by looking at our KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). Most clients are just skimming the surface of what social can do so when we put all our best tools in place for them, they can see return on investment within 3-6 months. For others, it can be much quicker. For example, we did a winback flow for a customer this month that gained him $12,000 in sales. He probably would have walked away from that since he didn’t have the time or knowledge to recapture those customers. We have details of that on our case studies page of the website.

Jason: Right, it’s really hard to know how to do everything well. Especially for new business folks.

Leanne: Yes, we have a lot of young companies come to us when they’re getting started. In fact, we have a podcast show called Business of Craft that is aimed at helping new crafty business entrepreneurs gain knowledge from other experts in the industry. Of course, you were on our show Jason!

Jason: Yes! Episode # 5 It was a lot of fun! We talked about how to utilize professional associations.

Leanne: We also are going to be launching a premium online course aimed at fledgling craft business owners called The Magic Wand for Social Media. It’s a 5 module, self-paced course with around 20 lessons of varying length. We designed it to teach people how to plan and execute a social marketing program in just 30 minutes per day. Once signed up for the course, participants also get 6 months of support from our agency to ensure follow-through. We’ll be launching it at Creativation in January. We’ll have limited spaces and they can sign up at the show.

Jason: Wow, that sounds like a needed service. Of course, as a platinum partner, you’ll be at the show in booth 416.

Leanne: Yes, we’ll be there offering free marketing consultations. Look for our Peanuts parody psychiatry-style booth with “Marketing Help for 5 cents”. It should be fun.

Jason: And if people want to find you, how do they reach out?

Leanne: The best way is through our website: www.stitchcraftmarketing.com or they can email me directly at leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com. They can also start by reading our marketing blog articles on our website. We publish timely and relevant marketing articles specific to the craft industry.

Jason: Thanks Leanne, see you soon!

Leanne: You too Jason, Thanks so much. We’re looking forward to working with AFCI members.

Here’s How You Could Win Breakfast For Your Entire Stay at Creativation


As part of our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways, each week we’re giving away prizes that will make your trip to Creativation, taking place January 18-22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, more affordable and enjoyable!

This week we’re giving away a $100 Starbucks gift card! There is a Starbucks conveniently located in the Phoenix Convention Center, where you can treat yourself to breakfast and coffee during your time at the event!

Click here to register by Friday, December 29 at 11:59pm EST, for your chance to win a $100 Starbucks gift card!

Congratulations to Abby Heckman, who is our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways winner from last week!

What else are we giving away? Follow the AFCI Blog, our social media accounts and the hashtag #Creativation18 each week to learn about new prizes!

Here’s How You Could Win a Free 1-Year AFCI Membership!


As part of our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways, each week we’re giving away prizes that will make your trip to Creativation, taking place January 18-22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, more affordable and enjoyable!

This week we’re giving away a gift that lasts for an entire year – a free 1-Year AFCI Membership up to $180 in value!

An AFCI Membership helps you connect with the right people in the creative arts industry to build and expand professional networks and position your company for success. We provide quality education to develop and improve your ability to run a successful craft industry business and deliver industry research to help you stay ahead of the trends and understand the industry landscape as you make critical decisions. Plus, our members receive free access to Creativation’s trade show and a number of the events that take place throughout the week.

Click here to register by Friday, December 22 at 11:59pm EST, for your chance to win an AFCI Membership up to $180 in value!

Congratulations to Christy Nelson of Nebraska, who is our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways winner from last week!

What else are we giving away? Follow the AFCI Blog, our social media accounts and the hashtag #Creativation18 each week to learn about new prizes!

Here’s How You Could Win The After Party Prize Package for Creativation!


As part of our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways, each week we’re giving away prizes that will make your trip to Creativation, taking place January 18-22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, more affordable and enjoyable!

This week we’re giving away The After Party prize package, which includes two admission tickets to the party, two drink tickets, arranged transportation by pedi-cab to the event at The Duce, and a $25 gift card to The Duce gift shop!

At the last Creativation, The After Party was epic and featured great food, music, dancing, a hula-hoop competition, ping pong, and a lot of smiles and laughs. Check out some pictures below. It was definitely one of the highlights, which we’re looking forward to attending again in January!

Click here to register by Friday, December 15 at 11:59pm EST, for your chance to win The After Party prize package!

Congratulations to Lisa Johnson of Iowa, who is our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways winner from last week!

What else are we giving away? Follow the AFCI Blog, our social media accounts and the hashtag #Creativation18 each week to learn about new prizes!

Unleash Your Creativity with Design Ideas from Deflecto®

Guest post from Chris Vanasdalan – Marketing Manager at Deflecto

At Deflecto®, we make versatile and customizable storage solutions to help keep your creative spaces organized, but we’re also crafters ourselves.

Over the past year, Deflecto has featured dozens of project tutorials and design ideas on our blog, Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Deflecto Craft blog features ideas and projects developed by a magnificent group of creative women from our Design Team. Many of our posts feature step-by-step instructions and photos to help you recreate the project.

Check out some of our recent posts:

Toddler Sorting Bins

Deflecto_Toddler sorting game._blog

Starry Night Light


We even have how-to videos:

Organize Child’s Bathroom


Looking for more inspiring design tutorials? Visit us at http://bit.ly/2fToFCn.

And stop by the Deflecto booth (#3213) at Creativation. You’ll have a chance to meet members of our Design Team, create unique “Make and Take” projects and compete for prizes in the “Deflecto Caddy Challenge.”

Visit CreativationShow.org to register.

Here’s How You Could Win a Free Hotel Stay in Phoenix for Creativation!


You heard us correctly! This week we launched our Countdown to Creativation Giveaways. Each week between now and Creativation, taking place January 18-22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, we’re giving away prizes that will make your trip more affordable and enjoyable!

Click here to register by tomorrow, Friday, December 8 at 11:59pm EST, for your chance to win our first prize – a free stay at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix hotel for up to 4 nights (taxes and fees only; no incidentals included)! In order to qualify, all you need to do is sign up – which is free if you are a current member of AFCI! We’ll announce the winner on Monday, December 11 on our social media accounts.


What else are we giving away? Follow the AFCI Blog, our social media accounts and the hashtag #Creativation18 each week to learn about new prizes!

Good luck!

AFCI Announces New PR Member Benefit!


While many business owners understand the value of public relations, most businesses do not generally have the time, resources or budget to hire an in-house PR representative or an outside agency to manage their public relations efforts.

AFCI is pleased to announce a partnership with Project PR to offer free and discounted PR services to AFCI members. As part of your AFCI membership, you are now entitled to free Public Relations services including: (1) 30-minute PR consultation, (4) customizable seasonal press release templates, a national craft industry media list (North America Only), and access to quarterly PR training on AFCI’s iDiscover Chats.

Through this partnership with Project PR, AFCI members also have access to PR in a Box—an affordable, introductory PR service to jump-start any PR program for just $650.

Tiered PR services can be added to PR in a Box as a la carte options or layered including: customized media lists, press kit development, media and influencer outreach programs, wire distribution, satellite, radio, and blogger tours, tradeshow coordination, collateral development and much more. For more information about this valuable PR member benefit, contact Lisa Miller or Victor Domine with Project PR at prforafci@gmail.com.

Project PR is a 10-year-old, New Jersey based boutique agency that specializes in strategic PR, media outreach, blogger and influencer relations, special events, and consultative communications services. Project PR strives to provide customized PR and communications programs that are tailored to meet individual client needs and budget parameters while delivering meaningful results.

Member Benefit of the Month: Peak Branding

PBI Mountain Logo in Electric Blue

Peak Branding, Inc. is proud to be an affinity program partner of AFCI. Since 2006, we have been providing our customers with the very best promotional products to help brand their businesses. We also have an extensive line of corporate apparel and awards. We have been honored to provide the AFCI Industry and Hall of Fame awards given out at Creativation in both 2017 and 2018.

As an AFCI member, you receive a 10% discount off any of our product prices (discount does not apply to set-up charges, artwork fees and shipping). We currently have over 20,000 products listed on our website, www.PromosR.us, and we have access to nearly 600,000 products from hundreds of vendors.

We also have worked extensively with our international partners to direct import large quantity products for our customers, particularly for larger events.

Our website is divided into major product categories, so searching for just the right item is easy. We have also created specific “Showrooms” for popular categories, including one for tradeshow ideas. Just click on the “Showroom” tab on the website.

At Peak Branding, we work closely with our customers to select the best products to meet your promotional, event, or company needs and search through all of our vendors to ensure that we bring you the best quality and prices. Call us at 719-528-1391.

Peak Branding, Inc. is owned by Tim and Elaine Collins. We have been AFCI members for over 10 years and are dedicated to the crafting industry through The Collins Group, a multi-line manufacturers’ rep group focused on the paper crafting industry and independent retailers.

Join Us Today For #GivingTOOLSDay

Today, November 28, is Giving Tuesday – the day the world comes together with one goal: to give back.

For a third year, the Kids In Need Foundation will celebrate with #GivingTOOLSDay: for every $25 donation made on Tuesday, a student will get a brand new backpack filled with school supplies. Click here to donate to the Kids In Need Foundation this #GivingTuesday!


Trends in Woodworking: Interview with Mindy Kinsey, Editor of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine and Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts magazine


According to the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study, over 28 million United States households participated in wood crafts and home décor. AFCI interviewed Mindy Kinsey, Editor of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine and Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts magazine, both published by Fox Chapel Publishing, to discuss the growing consumer interest in woodworking.

AFCI: “The AFCI research has shown that there is growth in participation within the wood crafts/home décor category. Are you seeing this same trend? While participation is growing, the perception is that this category is growing less popular. Do you have any theories on why this may be?”

Kinsey: “We are seeing scroll sawing grow in popularity, especially for making holiday decorations. Carving simple items like spoons and bowls seems to be growing, along with interest in general woodworking for making kitchen utensils and simple home décor. Holiday decorations and ornaments are always popular.”

AFCI: “Fox Chapel Publishing has several publications centered around creative activities using wood. Can you explain the demographic of the readership – gender and age? In addition, would you be able to elaborate on their skill level? Are you seeing more beginners reading your publications?”

Kinsey: “Although our magazines are generally read by intermediate woodworkers, we consider it part of our mission to reach out to beginners. We plan fun, quick, easy projects with detailed step instructions for every issue, so anyone can pick up one of our publications and try woodworking. We hope that those beginners will also be inspired by the more challenging projects and work through the steps to build their skills until they, too, can achieve their crafting goals.

Our readers tend to be older men, but our online audience is fairly evenly split between men and women, and tend to be somewhat younger.”

AFCI: “What trends/innovation are you seeing in this category? Any trends that cross-over in other craft categories like paper crafting, kids, floral, needle arts, paint, etc.?”

Kinsey: “We don’t see much crossover with other crafting categories, with the exception of paint. Many carvers are very skilled painters, while others strive to learn the art of blending paint washes to create lifelike hues. They generally like to let the wood texture and grain show through while adding color and excitement to the piece with artist or craft acrylics, oils, or airbrushed paint, depending on the project and the carver. Scroll saw crafters are split between those who like to let the natural wood shine and those who enjoy adding decorative painting to make their project unique.”

AFCI: “According to our research, people participating in wood crafts/home décor have a high association with feeling proud and a sense of accomplishment. Do you agree?”

Kinsey: “Very much so. Whether we are meeting woodworkers at events or interacting with them via social media, they are delighted to share their projects. Competitions are a big part of woodworking shows, and the carvers, scrollers, turners, and other woodworkers display their ribbons with pride. We have even seen facilities for veterans and senior citizens introduce woodworking classes as a way of giving their attendees meaningful activities.”

AFCI offers its members a wide range of free research studies to gain insight into factors that could affect their business and success! Not a member? Visit research.afci.global to learn more and request information about our current research.


Creativation in 2017 was an amazing way to kick off the year for Hotfix Fabric®. Hotfix Fabric® is fabric selections from today’s top designers that has our Hotfix Adhesive™ applied to it creating pre-fused fabric sheets. The Hotfix Fabric® comes in 10×10 sheets. It can be cut with any cutter, like the Cricut, ScanNCut , Silhouette, and die cuts. Once your design is cut, simply peel off the backing and apply it to your project using an iron. The Hotfix Adhesive™ has a permanent bond and can be applied to fabric, paper, and even wood.

The opportunity to participate in the Innovation Center gave us incredible exposure. The first day was so exciting. We met all of the inventors and got to learn about their products. Everyone was so nice and we were all a little nervous as we got ready for the judges from Jo-Ann Stores, Michaels, Home Shopping Network, 3M and Crayola. The judges came through and previewed all of our products asking questions and spent a few moments with each of us. Then we all anxiously awaited to hear who was chosen to participate in The Ultimate Pitch where we would have 10 minutes to pitch our product in hopes of being chosen as the most innovative new product of 2017. For us, we felt so blessed to be chosen as one of the top 25 participants in the Innovation Center, but when Kristen Farrell came in and told us we had been selected as one of the top 5 and we were headed to The Ultimate Pitch; Score!

The Ultimate Pitch, while a little nerve wrecking, was a lot of fun and a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had no idea what doors it would open. We were contacted by Anna Griffin Inc. and on October 3rd, it was Craft Day on the Home Shopping Network and she demoed Hotfix Fabric® featuring her Everyday and Holiday selections live on a couple of her segments. The sales from that exceeded projections, and the Everyday collection sold out. We have several other things in the works that will come to fruition early 2018 and many of them came from what we learned at Creativation and the Innovation Center. We are excited to see where they lead us.

The feedback that we received from folks at Creativation and others we have met this year has been amazing. In fact the feedback on our Hotfix Adhesive™ has resulted in the development of the Hotfix Express™. The Hotfix Express™ allows the consumer to apply our Hotfix Adhesive™ to not only fabric, but also to paper. We are looking forward to showcasing it at Creativation 2018. The exposure from Creativation and the Innovation Center has opened many doors and provided invaluable insight into what the buyers are looking for. We can’t wait to get back to Phoenix in 2018.

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

Are you creating, designing or making an innovation that will be revolutionary, break the mold or provide a strategic advantage? Will $10,000 help? Unveil your new product, idea, trend, method, technique or device for the first time in the Innovations Center, just like Hotfix Fabric®, at Creativation 2018 and you could win cash to help bring your innovation to market! Click here to apply. The deadline is November 30, 2017.

The Art of Volunteering

This is a guest post by AFCI Member, Carol Foldvary-Anderson, varyCarol.com – AFCI Member since 2007.

Volunteer: Help & support a non-profit that you are passionate about!


Consider volunteering in your city, community, state and country! There are no limits as to what is out there for you to become a part of. Give your time and talents away and receive so much more in return.

As I write this I am packing my bags for a weeks stay in Yosemite, California. It has been over 25 years since I visited our country’s most spectacular National Park. Rather than backpacking the high country trails, I will be teaching visitors how to incorporate their creative inspiration of being in a beautiful environment into creating art that will enhance their visit.

I am not getting paid to do what I do, but that doesn’t matter. I am fulfilling a goal to be part of something bigger than myself, volunteering my time to teach art, to share the knowledge I have acquired, and to have my talents benefit a non-profit entity that I am passionate about. I enjoy “working my art” and having it be the vehicle to do good when I can, and where I can. I am volunteering my time and talents with the Yosemite Conservancy! I love the outdoors and what a place to be to share both my passions!

Doing what you love is not always about making money. It is living a life of joy! Sharing your talents and putting yourself in places of opportunities in which money can’t buy! What I am giving feels so small and comes naturally to me compared to the opportunity I have been gifted.

How I came upon this opportunity is one of those, one door closes and another one opens. I was interested in working as a demo artist for one of the AFCI supplier members. I approached the company and I was told they already had hired someone. Whom I asked, and I was given a name. I decided to look on the Internet as to what this person was about and found that they were scheduled to teach in Yosemite. On a whim, I looked into what Yosemite had to offer teaching artists. I answered all the questions they had asked, and then I pressed the send button on, “Teaching Artist’s Submission for 2018”. I forgot about things and then one day I received a phone call. They requested I teach in 2017, as a slot was open, and it would also lead into 2018.

For more information on how to keep the arts alive in your local communities, read Carol’s full article in the Fall 2017 edition of Gradient, available online at www.afci.global.


Carol Foldvary-Anderson / varyCarol.com
art@varyCarol.com / 775.721.5338

Do You Show Your Employees Appreciation?

This content was originally published by O.C. Tanner © All Rights Reserved.

Gratitude shared in person beats applause from the crowd.


Catching someone doing something right has proven time and again to inspire people to succeed. But employee gratitude doesn’t all need to be formal and public. Sometimes face-to-face, one-on-one, thanks are the very best.

Consider taking a team member to lunch and saying something like, “Do you know that I’m absolutely delighted by your talent, your work? I hope you never doubt that. Because the day you joined our team changed everything for me. Thank you.”

Pick a coworker and make a one-on-one thanking appointment with them today.

Want more advice on career and human resources management? Read the AFCI Career Corner, brought to you in partnership with The Creative Network, which is available on the member benefits page of our website. AFCI Career Corner articles are also distributed in the monthly AFCI Member Newsletter.

What do you do to appreciate your employees? Share your story in the comments below.

TinyTys™: Where They Are 1 Year After Launching At Creativation

By Kimberly A. Meek. Owner/CEO Hacha Products Corp.

To be nominated for the Top Creative Innovation of 2017 at Creativation in Phoenix was a huge boost for our company; it is one of the reasons the launch of TinyTys™ has been such a success. We received exposure to various channels that we would not have gotten had we not been featured. I would recommend attending the event for not only the exposure, but for the connections we made there. We are truly grateful to AFCI for the opportunity afforded us.


TinyTys™ is an activity kit that stimulates creativity, and at the same time is so fun! TinyTys™ are made for children ages 4 and up, they pull apart with just a tug, and are a unique craft that allow children to create and recreate personalized jewelry to wear, share and decorate clothing and belongings.

Grown-ups love them too for many reasons; they provide a Discovery Learning experience [STEM, COMMON CORE, and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)] for younger children and help them to improve dexterity and fine motor skills. It’s an imaginative way to have fun while learning!

They are releasable, reusable, with no tools required. Entirely made in the USA, they have minimal environmental impact, and – completing the circle – the more children who play with TinyTys™, the more children who are fed.


I founded Hacha Products Corporation, the parent company of TinyTys™, as a platform to create resources for under-nourished schoolchildren. From day 1, I have been committed to eradicate hunger in the classroom. A lot of my time and energy is spent discovering and leveraging resources to accomplish that. Each TinyTys™ purchase helps support Blessings In a Backpack. Blessings In a Backpack fills 93,000 backpacks each weekend for children with food insecurities in United States. One in every five children do not know where their next meal will come from. Every 5 TinyTys™ kits sold fills a backpack for a child.

For more information about TinyTys™, visit TinyTys.com.

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

Are you creating, designing or making an innovation that will be revolutionary, break the mold or provide a strategic advantage? Will $10,000 help? Unveil your new product, idea, trend, method, technique or device for the first time in the Innovations Center, just like TinyTys™, at Creativation 2018 and you could win cash to help bring your innovation to market! Click here to apply. The deadline is November 30, 2017.

Linkt® Craft Kits: Where They Are 1 Year After Launching at Creativation

By Rebeca Mojica, Master Artisan, Linkt® Craft Kits

It’s been nearly a year since we unveiled Linkt® Craft Kits—the first DIY chainmaille jewelry kits for tweens—at Creativation 2017, and a lot has happened!


Linkt® by Neat-Oh! International, LLC, is based on the historical craft of chainmaille. (Yes, just like the medieval armor!) Our kits allow girls and boys as young as 8 to link tiny metal circles together to make real, metal jewelry. Kids report how amazed they are to lift their piece from the patent-pending “magic” layout tool and see their work transform into a stunning piece of jewelry.


Linkt® launched in specialty retailers across the US and Canada this summer, and appeared on QVC in early autumn. In just a few months, Linkt® products have won several awards and honors, including ASTRA Best Toys For Kids, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award and “Parent Approved” by Today’s Parent Canada.

When we first exhibited at Creativation, we were eager for feedback from the industry. I’ve been a Designer member of AFCI (then Craft & Hobby Association) for 7 years, and this was my first time working on a children’s product. Neat-Oh! had been in the toy industry for 11 years but this was their first foray into the arts and crafts sector. We were excited to combine our expertise and passion to bring Linkt® Craft Kits to market and work with the retail members of AFCI.


We debuted 5 kits at Creativation. Each Linkt® kit has hundreds of jewelry making components to complete multiple projects—up to 20 pairs of earrings, or 5 necklaces or 5 bracelets—mixing and matching metal and silicone rings in a variety of colors so every single piece is different. The kits include a patent-pending foam tool and crystal-clear instructions, which are supplemented by free step-by-step video tutorials on YouTube.

AFCI recognized the potential and innovation in Linkt® and selected the product as one of the top 5 innovations of 2017. The opportunity to exhibit in the Innovations Center and participate in The Ultimate Pitch was invaluable. Linkt® received additional exposure and we had more opportunities to talk with buyers to find out their impressions of our product line.

Overwhelmingly, store owners were excited about our kits and the patent-pending tools we’d developed to make this artform accessible. Several attendees told us things like: “I’m not a kid, but I want to make Linkt®!” And: “I tried chainmaille but it was too hard. Linkt® looks so much easier and much more fun!” And so the seed was planted that perhaps this product would work for adults as well.


Indeed, as we’ve held Linkt® Craft Kits parties at specialty shops across the country, we’ve discovered that these kits are a great way for a parent/grandparent (or other adult) and tween to spend quality time together. Once the parent realizes the jewelry is professional-looking–not a macaroni necklace!–they want to hop in and make something, too. And once they make something, they are hooked! Some tweens and adults told us they never considered themselves creative before this. We’re so happy to be able to foster this magical and empowered feeling they have after completing their projects. And we are thrilled that our product “links” different generations together through the joy of crafting.

As we look to the future, we already have new chainmaille kits in the works, scheduled for release in early 2018. For product releases beyond that, we’ve started working with other award-winning designers to offer a wider variety of projects. We’re developing designs of increasing complexity that introduce wire wrapping, wire forming and other wirework techniques. Our goal is to create a comprehensive and progressive curriculum, allowing users to progress and expand their skills.

We still refer to the feedback received at Creativation as we develop our new designs and packaging. We look forward to connecting with attendees at the next show! Come visit us in booth #1036 so we can share our new designs with you, find out what initiatives you’re working on, and discover ways to work together to tap into the incredible potential of Linkt®.

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

Are you creating, designing or making an innovation that will be revolutionary, break the mold or provide a strategic advantage? Will $10,000 help? Unveil your new product, idea, trend, method, technique or device for the first time in the Innovations Center, just like Linkt® Craft Kits, at Creativation 2018 and you could win cash to help bring your innovation to market! Click here to apply. The deadline is November 30, 2017.

Sign Up for Neat-Oh! International’s Creativation Workshop

Learn how to get your customers excited to try Neat-Oh! International’s Linkt® Craft Kits. Register today!

Personalized Marketing & The Know-Like-Trust Funnel

By Mari Chiba Luke, Stitchcraft Marketing

News flash: your yarn/paper/fabric/craft shop is not unique. Sure, there are some aspects that are a little different from your competitors, but there are a thousand shades of that perfect red, countless varieties of paper punches, and more options for amazing organizing bags than we can count on our fingers and toes. So why would a customer choose to buy from your shop, rather than that online retailer, the big box store 15 minutes away, or on Amazon? Because you’re providing a better customer experience. Really, that’s it – the one differentiating factor you have control over.

If you’ve read a marketing book, you’re probably familiar with the “Rule of Seven”. The idea is that a consumer has to “hear” your marketing message seven times before they buy. But in the age of many competitors, blasting your message aimlessly, hoping you’ll hit your target consumer, isn’t going to cut it. Consumers want to purchase from their “friends” (people they know, like and trust), not some faceless conglomerate. This is the area where even if the price is better online, you have a leg up as a small business. We call this journey of how customers come to purchase from a brand as the know-like-trust funnel. Generally, customers only purchase once they’ve reached a level of trust.

Leanne Presley_ Know-Like-Trust funnel article 10-10-17

Getting to Know You
This is when customers first hear about your company, your brand story and what you sell. Making a great first impression is important. So where do people get to know your company?

  • Print and digital advertising
  • Earned media (print and digital articles/blogs/social media posts about your company)
  • Social media
  • Referral from friends or family

All of these areas lay the foundation for converting potential customers into returning customers.

Getting to Like You
At this stage, people are getting to know your company. This could be anything from your elevator pitch at a booth to a customer walking into your store or clicking a link that directs them to your website. It’s your chance to show the customer who you are, what you believe in, and why they should buy from you – because as we established, they could just as easily buy a similar product elsewhere.

Where do people begin to like your brand online?

  • Website – don’t forget to include an “about us” page!
  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Social media

At this stage, it’s important that you convey to customers how your product/service can make their lives better, easier, more beautiful, more creative, or some other enhancement.

Getting to Trust You
How do you build trust with people you meet outside of business? By being genuine, likeable, and generous. The same rules apply in marketing, so make your messaging about the consumer: connect with her on a personal level, provide value to her, and show her that you understand her pain points. Where can you build trust with potential customers?

  • Tutorials
  • Testimonials (on your website, in social media posting, in the form of reviews)
  • Newsletter
  • Endorsements from people your customers already trust

Of course, there are overlaps between all of these categories, and many instances where these stages can combine. Also keep in mind that converting from liking to trusting may take a long time and require many exposures. It’s important to remember that good friendships go both ways – you get to know your friend, and they get to know you. For a personalized marketing experience, you should provide the same experience to your customers. Tell them about you and your brand, your values, but also communicate that you understand her pain points, her passions, and provide her with solutions (your product/service).

When planning your marketing strategy, you should consider people at each stage of the
know-like-trust funnel. How does your content engage and bring people further into the funnel? What are you doing to increase brand awareness to invite more people along this path?

Here’s an example of a real customer journey. Although I know how to knit and have made several dolls and stuffed animals over the years, I still purchased a $65 hand knit doll from Cuddle+Kind for my son due to their well-executed marketing campaign. Here’s a breakdown of how they gained my trust to close the sale:

Know: I first saw one of their dolls in a Facebook ad. Not long after, I saw it again on Instagram; one of the mommy-bloggers I follow had a sponsored post showing her super-cute doll with her equally cute baby. I clicked over to the website, and browsed for a few minutes. There was a pop-up offer to sign up for their newsletter to get free shipping on my first order, but I wasn’t ready to buy just yet, so I opted out and clicked around the website a little more.

Like: Cuddle+Kind uses retargeting, so in the following weeks I started seeing ads for their dolls on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. I enjoyed seeing these brightly lit, beautifully styled images of dolls and babies in my feed because they reminded me of snuggling my newborn son. Then I sought out their Instagram feed on my own and started following them, which further increased my exposure to their stunning lifestyle images.

Trust & Conversion: As Christmas neared, I kept remembering these beautiful dolls. When I went back to the website and saw the free shipping pop-up offer again, I signed up for their newsletter because I was seriously considering purchasing one of these dolls. I immediately got an email with my coupon code, but the email also showed images and told the story of how these dolls give jobs to women in Peru and their community giving project that is tied to the sales of the dolls. I was sold! Not only did they have a product that I thought was beautiful, they had a great story to go with it. Although I could have knit a doll myself, between work and caring for my own child, supporting a business I believe in sounded like a better, simpler, and saner option.

How to Implement a Personalized Marketing Strategy
Clearly, knowing your target audience and tailoring your marketing strategy to their needs can make an impact for your business. In our industry, it’s safe to assume that your target customer is a knitter, weaver, spinner or crocheter – but within these categories, there are plenty more niches to explore.

A great way to get started is by creating a customer avatar. Think about your ideal customer, then ask yourself:

  • How old is she?
  • Where does she live?
  • What are her passions?
  • What inspires her?
  • What do you think her annual income is?
  • Where does she go on vacation?
  • What does her house look like?

All the things you probably know about your friends, you should know about your ideal consumer. Give her a name, then create marketing material that she’ll love: photos, tutorials, newsletters, social media posting, should all be customized to her, your ideal consumer.

You’re also likely to have more than one ideal consumer. Maybe your yarn consumers include millennial, gen X and baby boomer women. How do you market to all of them effectively? The short answer, is, you don’t. Although there may be overlaps in what they find beautiful (like your yarn), the answer is that women in such different stages of their lives, with different life experiences, won’t feel connected with the same language or imagery.

For example, a crochet bikini top pattern to wear at the pool this summer might appeal to your millennial audience, but baby boomers may be less likely to crochet themselves a bikini top. Millennials are likely to find charm in the retro aesthetic of a crochet bikini top, but for gen xers it’ll trigger flashbacks to past wardrobe malfunctions.

Baby boomers are likely to be knitting baby projects for their grandchildren. Some gen xers might have babies at this stage in their live, but they are more likely to have older children. Older millennials are also likely to be having kids and knitting baby items. The lesson? Know your audience, and segment your marketing. You can target your Facebook ads, posting, and newsletters based on what you know about your customers.

Let’s revisit why Cuddle+Kind’s campaign worked so well.

  1. They nailed their targeting through the Facebook ad and the sponsored post on Instagram. They are everywhere I am!
  2. Retargeting works. They kept popping up in my feed, with lovely photos. Their beautiful photos of sweetly sleeping babies with their dolls? That’s not how I remember the newborn days (where’s the spit-up?) but that’s how I wanted to remember them. Crisp white sheets, cute swaddles, and lots of sunshine.
  3. They have a story I like, and they told me how my purchase makes me a participant in their mission. By purchasing a doll I also became a supporter of their campaign for providing economic stability for women in Peru.
  4. They built trust. I saw lots of other people posting these beautiful dolls on my Instagram feed. Surely if everyone else has been happy with the quality, and didn’t think $65 was an outrageous amount to spend on a knit doll for a 1 year old, then I should go ahead and buy one too, right?

Back when people used to shop in person or order on the phone, they had a more personal shopping experience: you’d talk to a real person, and they’d ask you about what you were looking for, and your specific concerns. The arrival of the internet has radically changed the marketplace, but customers still crave this personalized experience. If a small business wants to succeed, not only does it need to be where its customers are, it needs to give them exactly what they’re looking for. With 10,000 options for yarn online at any given time, how are you going to set yourself apart?

Stitchcraft Marketing is a niche agency specializing in craft, fabric and yarn companies. Check out their weekly blog and regular podcast, Business of Craft. Mari Luke is a knitwear designer and account manager at Stitchcraft Marketing.

Behind the Scenes with the Inventors of Let’s Hang – The Top Creative Innovation of 2017


This $10,000 check could be yours!  If you have a brand new product or idea perfect for the creative industry, submit your idea HERE.  Hurry!  The deadline is November 30th.  Read on to learn more about last year’s winners.

When Armando Ulloa first told his brother, Alfredo about an idea he had that could resolve a very common problem, he never thought it would leave a powerful mark on thousands of professionals in the creative industries.


Armando and Alfredo were behind one of five products selected for ​the inaugural The Ultimate Pitch contest, which was held during Creativation in January 2017. The brother duo pitched their product, Let’s Hang, a tool that helps you hang frames and pictures level and precise the first time, to a panel of executives from well-known retailers and manufacturers and won the grand prize of $10,000.


Just a couple of hours after their big win, while their new reality was sinking in, Armando and Alfredo shared ​their motive to participate in the Innovations Center and The Ultimate Pitch.

Armando Ulloa: “We were trying to get our product out so people could actually visibly see it, understand it, touch it, hold it, feel it and understand what the purpose of the tool is. As creators we also wanted to get reaction and feedback – what they like about it, what they don’t like about it, what they would change, what they would add.”

Alfredo Ulloa: “One of the things that’s really nice about doing something like Creativation and being a participant in the Innovations Center is you get to tap a lot of markets that normally you probably wouldn’t be able to do unless you were already in the industry. So, when we came here our expectations were, honestly, let’s see what the people say.”

Feedback is what they sought, and they received a lot of valuable information out of the experience.

Armando Ulloa: “The feedback was priceless. I met an engineer from Slovenia, and he gave us some input on what he would do differently. And then we got advice from a consumer who said, ‘I want it, I love it, I wouldn’t do anything to it.’ You’re getting a lot of creative people all in one room who are giving us input and feedback on a product that we want to take to the masses.”

Alfredo Ulloa: “This gives you the power of brainstorming. Most of the thought process that went into developing Let’s Hang was my brother’s initial thoughts. But when you start bringing in individuals from different parts of the markets, it gives you the ability to step back and get the input of the actual consumers who would be purchasing this product. And, a lot of it was positive.”

And on top of all of that feedback, they received a check for $10,000. So, how did they plan to use it?

Armando Ulloa: “We are going to file for our utility patent with some of the winnings. Then, we have to think about marketing, when we do get it going.”

When you apply to the Innovations Center, you are one step close to potentially being the next $10,000 grand prize winner. You never know how many opportunities this door could open for you.

Armando Ulloa: “It’s kind of crazy. We never expected to get the response that we got. We came here thinking maybe a couple of people would like it. Maybe we would get a little recognition on our Kickstarter campaign. We’ve talked to every major company, huge companies that we pass the stores of every day. We have so many phone calls and meetings to make. The good thing is we’re open to everything and willing to hear everything. What the future holds, we’re still not sure. We made amazing contacts. And I would recommend anyone in our situation with a new tool, or a new invention, or a new product to come to Creativation. It’s overwhelming, but it’s awesome.”

Click here to submit your innovation. The deadline to apply is November 30.

If you have any questions, contact Kristen Farrell at (201) 835-1209 or kfarrell@afci.global.


#AFCIMakeMyDay: Meet Susan Dench of The Createrie Co.

Guest post by AFCI member, Susan Dench, The Createrie Co. – member since May 2017


If you’re like us (and we know you are!) you’re busy, very busy. And we’re guessing that you’re so busy that the things you love to do usually fall off your schedule!

Always a maker, my background is in marketing. Audience after audience in my communications workshops would lament that they were consistently tired and stressed from always being “on,” which drove me mad. In addition to causing human relationships to falter, they were letting technology control them instead of them controlling technology.

I decided I wanted to give women permission to take some guilt-free me-time, a chance to put the oxygen mask on themselves while they give to others and to give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all the fabulous things they do – and are.

And mostly, I wanted to inspire creativity by getting women on a digital detox, unplugging from their electronic devices, engaging their creative sides and reconnecting with the people, things and activities that were important to them.

Receiving a cutting machine for Christmas 2015 gave me the “how.” I jumped in with both feet, soon graduating from scrapbooking to decorating things from key fobs to night lights. Crafting is the perfect way to both digitally detox and reconnect – crafting party anyone?!

I had a small Etsy shop just to keep my sewing closet in check, but unable to find high quality, colorful, scaled down takes on my favorite classic designs, I got into vinyl printing and now provide patterned Vibrant Vinyl™ adhesive and heat transfer vinyl. These are available both through Etsy and our own website and will soon be on Amazon as well. We are also developing a line of Creatiful™ cutting and clip art files, again to provide the images I’ve had such a hard time finding.

This summer I developed my first crafting tool. Eyeballing, guessing and water marking weren’t working as I was trying to place a decal on a wine glass. My ah-ha moment came when I spied a corner protector on some furniture we’d had delivered. The GridLock™ Perfect Placement Cradle is a flexible system to steady and stabilize various sized and shaped objects for professional, precise (and knees-free!) application of decals, stencils and paints. It’s hit a real need and already has international distribution.


I live on and am continually inspired by the beautiful coast of Maine with my exceedingly indulgent husband and two silly dogs – the state’s marketing people have it right when they say this is life the way it should be! In keeping with our mission to inspire creativity, we are looking at a couple of crafting girls’ getaways next year – one in Maine, one in Bermuda. Drop us a line if you’re interested!

The craft world is very large, and AFCI helps connect like-minded creative entrepreneurs, which, when you’re just starting out as we are, is terrific. AFCI also provides inspiration and ideas by sharing the stories of other professionals. Thanks so much for having me here today!


Preparing Your Store for the Future


Heidi Kaisand, owner of Hen & Chicks Studio and Publisher of American Quilt Retailer, knows the challenges of running a business. In the Fall 2017 issue of Gradient, she shared some tips to help companies build a better future.

Define who you are and what your business goals are. Ask the important questions – what is your mission statement? What are your long-term goals? Are you making sure your financials are solid? Take time to focus on your business and get clarity on what you are doing.

Set aside time to look at your shopping experience across every category. Your sales floor, website, email communications and social media should tell the same brand story so consumers can easily identify what belongs to you. Customers also want to see what is on your sales floor online when they can’t make it in.

Get to know your customer better. Utilize surveys to help understand the needs and wants of your customer. Surveys will also help you stay ahead of trends.

Create a blog to communicate and interact with your customers. Share what is important to you, what makes you and your shop stand out, and information that will benefit your customer.

Don’t ever stop learning. Attend trade shows, find business groups that align with your goals and interests, and pick up a book or two to expand your business knowledge and practices.

Support one another and your community. You’ll learn so much from others.

For more great tips, read Heidi’s full article, “Preparing Your Store for the Future” in the Fall 2017 issue of Gradient.

You Won’t Believe What’s Coming From Eclectic Products at Creativation

This is a guest post from Eclectic Products, Creativation 2018 Exhibitor.


We are excited about the upcoming Creativation event and can’t wait to get to Phoenix in January to see everyone, be inspired, and maybe even share a brand new product that we believe will be the talk of the show! (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

Eclectic Products has a collection of brands and products consumers love and trust, like E6000, Unicorn SPiT, Amazing Goop, Shoe Goo, Allure, and Glaze Coat. We know that you spend a tremendous amount of time and creativity bringing your inspirational visions to life, so we make sure all our products are made to the highest quality and performance standards to ensure your vision becomes the reality you desire.

We love hearing stories about how one of our E6000 products, or Unicorn SPiT, or Allure, or Glaze Coat allowed you to make something that you never thought possible. We look forward to hearing more of those stories at Creativation! Come see us at booth #1643 and inspire us!

One of the things we love to do is meet folks face-to-face and demonstrate what some of our products do and have our experts answer questions. This year, we will be sharing our Glaze Coat High-Gloss Craft Resin, and sharing ideas that will get your creative wheels rolling! Glaze Coat Craft is ideal for creating beautiful jewelry, amazing craft furniture and tables, beautifying clocks, picture frames, embedding keepsakes, making bed trays, jewelry boxes, plaques and much more! Our resin is a very durable, waterproof and acid-free finish that allows you to create heirloom quality projects that have a hard, smooth professional finish. Come by and see for yourself. We think you will walk away with some new ideas about how to create even more spectacular projects!

And speaking of something new…… if you come see us at booth #1643, we will let you in on our newest secret. It’s a new product that we are VERY excited about sharing that EVERYONE is screaming for! We don’t want to say too much yet, but it allows anyone to turn ordinary objects into holographic masterpieces! It is almost limitless in its uses, and can be used on wood, glass, metal, fabric, pottery, concrete, laminate and most any other substrate! Truly, the only limit is your imagination! We are “Spitting Excited” to get this into everyone’s hands and see where the creativity takes you.

We are so excited to see everyone at Creativation in Phoenix in January! Come to Eclectic Products at booth #1643 and let us show you what everyone will be talking about for the rest of the show! See you in the desert!

Creativation 2017 Innovations Center Contestant to appear on ABC’s “The Toy Box”


TechnoChic‘s DIY Flashy Flowers was one of the 25 finalists featured in our Innovations Center at Creativation earlier this year. Now, with the addition of a new product, DIY Blinky Bow Ties, the company’s owner and designer, Natasha Dzurny will be a contestant on ABC’s The Toy Box on Sunday, October 22nd at 7pm EDT!

Natasha, who is also an AFCI Professional Maker/DIYer, will present her toy concepts to a panel of the toughest judges in the industry – kids – and host Eric Stonestreet.

TechnoChic creates DIY tech-craft kits that inspire kids and crafters to fall in love with DIY electronics. Natasha is dedicated to transforming the way the world understands and creates with technology by producing engaging and beautiful tech-craft kits that appeal to both girls and boys alike.


In each episode of The Toy Box, the kid judges have the opportunity to play with the toys presented, give their feedback, and determine who will move on to the next round. The winner from each episode will move on to the finale to compete for the grand prize: Their toy will be made by Mattel; sold exclusively at Toys”R”Us stores nationwide and Toysrus.com, and will receive a cash prize of $100,000.

Tune in on Sunday, October 22nd at 7pm EDT to watch and cheer on Natasha!

Have a creative product or idea that could change the industry as we know it?

There is still time to apply to the Innovations Center at Creativation 2018! Finalists will gain significant exposure to major retail chains and large manufacturing companies in the creative industry, and have the life-changing opportunity to compete to win the $10,000 grand prize. Submit your innovation by Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 11:59pm EDT.


5 DIY Steps to Turn Your Idea into a Tangible Product

Ah-ha! You’ve finally thought of the million-dollar idea that will allow you to travel the world and retire early. It’s time to submit your resignation letter and pursue it!

Not so fast.

The Innovation DIY is more complicated than your everyday DIY scenario. Before you devote the next several months (or potentially years) of your life to your idea, read this infographic to get an understanding of what’s involved in turning an idea into a tangible product.

Innovation DIY Infographic.png

The Quest for the Next Creative Innovation
Are you working on an innovation that could potentially change the creative industry as we know it? Submit your new product, idea, trend, method, technique or device to the Innovations Center for the chance to unveil your innovation at Creativation and to compete for a cash prize of $10,000. The deadline to submit an entry is October 31. Apply here.

Read the full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at www.afci.global.

Meet TJ Perry

Help us welcome Tajay (TJ) Perry, the newest member of the AFCI Team!


TJ joins us from the electrical and communications data sector where he successfully exceeded sales expectations and we’re excited for him to bring his sales success to AFCI.

As the Inside Sales Representative, TJ will be a key contact for our suppliers for exhibit and sponsorship opportunities at Creativation.

We spoke with TJ about his new role and to get to know him better. Read our conversation below.

What are you looking forward to most in your new role at AFCI?
This is a new industry for me; so learning and trying to adapt my previous experiences has been interesting. AFCI members who I speak with are genuine people and passionate about what they do. I’m learning so much from them and I look forward to forming and building relationships.

What do you like most about working at AFCI?
We have a small staff so there are many opportunities to work with other departments. We all work together to create, develop and implement projects and strategies.

Do you have any creative interests?
I’m not a crafter – yet! Learning and seeing what the creative industry is producing, selling and making is incredible and inspiring. Although I’m not currently making, I appreciate art and have a small but growing art collection.

Any interesting facts or experiences that you’ve had worth sharing?
When I was younger I had a pet goat 😊.


Feel free to reach out to TJ directly at tperry@afci.global or 201-835-1232.

So, You Want to Become an AFCI Ambassador?

Great news! Today we’re announcing our new Ambassador Program! The Ambassador Program is an easy way for current AFCI members to get involved and get rewarded for helping grow our amazing membership.

What is an AFCI Ambassador?

Any current AFCI member can become an AFCI Ambassador. We’re looking for passionate and connected individuals who are willing to spread the word about the benefits of being a part of our Association and encourage creative businesses to join.

How do I get started?

It’s easy! The first step is to refer and get new members to join. The infographic below includes the reward levels and all the information you need to start recruiting.

I’m interested. Who can I contact if I have questions?

Call our Membership Department at 201-835-1200 or send an email to membership@afci.global.


How the REAL ID Act Could Impact Your Travel to Creativation


If you are a United States citizen, your driver’s license is sufficient identification to travel to and from domestic territory, correct? Yes, for now; however, that may not be the case as of January 22, 2018. Why? January 22 is when the REAL ID Act goes into effective for air travel.

Passed by Congress in 2015, the REAL ID Act is a new law that sets standards for the issuance of sources of identification, including driver’s licenses. In other words, state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards require new security standards to meet federal agencies validation, and so far only approximately half of United States territories are compliant.

Starting January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act and has not been granted an extension through that date will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.

Is Your State or Territory Compliant?
At the bottom of this blog post, you will find lists of compliant and non-compliant states and territories. Regardless of which list your state or territory is on, you should visit the following link to the Department of Homeland Security’s website to determine if you’ll be able to use your driver’s license to fly to and from Arizona in January: https://www.dhs.gov/real-id. The website displays a map that shows compliant and non-compliant areas.


Map from the Department of Homeland Security website as of September 28, 2017. Visit the website for the most up-to-date information about the REAL ID Act.

IMPORTANT: All states and territories that are in yellow signify the area has received an extension; however, the extension period is different for each state and territory, and may not be through the January 22, 2018 date. Therefore, select your state or territory from the drop down menu to find out the time period for which your state-issued identification will be compliant. If it’s not through January 22, 2018, you will need to use and/or obtain a federal-issued identification for air travel.

Acceptable Forms of Identification for Non-Compliant Regions
There are other forms of identification that are compliant with the new law, including a U.S. passport or U.S. passport card. A permanent resident card is another example of identification that is complaint. For a full list of other forms of identification you can use, read the Transportation Security Administration’s REAL ID factsheet: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/resources/realid_factsheet.pdf.

If you already have one of these forms of identification, you’re all set to travel. If you don’t, we encourage you to apply for an acceptable form of identification as soon as possible because it could take several weeks for the government to issue you it.

Make Your Employees Aware of the REAL ID Act
As you are reading this, you have to assume your employees may not be aware of this change. If you are bringing staff to Creativation, or even have staff scheduled for business trips in the near future, share this blog post with them so they are aware and can plan to obtain new identification, if necessary.

Compliant States / Territories (as of September 28, 2017)

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Non-Compliant States / Territories (as of September 28, 2017)

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • California
  • Guam
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Online Resources

Special Offer from Office Depot

You are the master of multi-tasking. The champion of making it happen. Taking care of business is what you do, but who takes care of you? Whether your business is big or small, Office Depot has solutions to help keep things running smoothly.

Join or use your AFCI Office Depot savings program today and receive:

OD_SeptOffer_2017 (2)

$25 off your qualifying delivery order of $150 or more. Use coupon code: 32238676. Exclusions apply. Expires 10/4/17. This special offer is only valid for a limited time*, visit: www.1800member.com/od-afci or call 1-800-MEMBERS (800-636-2377), M-F: 8am – 6pm ET, for more information.

*Valid only at www.1800member.com/od-afci or by phone at 1-800-MEMBERS (800-636-2377), M-F, 8am-6pm, ET. Offer not valid for government contract accounts. Not combinable with a Store Purchasing Card. Use the coupon code for phone or fax orders or enter the coupon code to cart online at checkout. Not valid for purchases 1.) of gift cards; 2.) of any technology or consumer electronic products and accessories or media and software products; 3.) of postage or mailing/shipping services; 4.) of performance protection plans; 5.) of HP ink or toner; 6.) of Tech Depot Services or third party services; or 7) premiums/free gifts with purchase. Coupon cannot be used as an account payment. Coupon is good for one-time use only, is not transferable, is not for resale or auction and cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. No cash back. Void where prohibited. We reserve the right to limit quantities sold to each customer. Limit 1 coupon per customer/business. We are not responsible for errors. Coupon expires on 10/4/17 11:59 PM ET. Coupon code 32238676.

6 Smartphone Photography Tips

As a professional in the creative industry, being able to capture the beauty of your work is essential. Photographs are central to your company’s online presence, and an impactful online presence goes hand in hand with promoting your brand and products.

Although purchasing a high-quality camera may be a great investment, it isn’t necessary to get great shots. Thanks to technology, chances are you have a great photography tool that you carry around with you every day – your smartphone!

Here are 6 tips for using your smartphone to take attention-grabbing pictures.

Photograph Tips

Read the full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at www.afci.global.

National Sewing Month with The Sewing Loft!

September is National Sewing Month. And while the month is halfway over, there’s still plenty of time to celebrate.


We spoke with Heather Valentine of The Sewing Loft about the craft and some of her new ventures in the creative industry. Read our conversation below!


For individuals who are interested in sewing, but have little or no experience, what advice can you give that will help get them started?
My best advice is don’t be afraid to try! Before starting your very first project, I suggest you set aside a few minutes at get “friendly” with your machine. Understanding the basics like how to thread your machine and winding a bobbin properly will help set you up for success.

Consider making a small stitch sampler to explore your stitches. Once you feel comfortable and are ready to dive in, be sure to keep things simple. Tote bags, pincushions and easy quilts are great projects to help grow your skills.

You just launched Inspiring Stitches with your friend Amy Ellis. Can you tell us more about this new adventure?
Inspiring Stitches is my latest adventure. Amy and I joined forces and are excited to share our first design, Heartland Heritage. We can’t wait to see the variety of colorful quilts created with the pattern and are looking forward to working with shops directly in our Sew Inspired Society. It is a great program for shop owners looking to build repeat traffic while engaging their customers.

You joined AFCI last year. What value have you found in being an AFCI member?
I think one of my favorite benefits of AFCI is being part of a community that “gets me”. I attended Creativation in January and not only was there so much creative eye candy at every turn, but everyone was so welcoming. It did not matter what your medium of choice is, everyone understands the creative spirit.

In the end, I’m just a self-proclaimed fabric hoarder that likes to stitch the night away and dreams to one day discover a better way of detangling my thread collection. Be sure to come find me and say hello because I’d love to stitch with you.

How are you celebrating National Sewing Month? Share your story in the comments section.