Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today, we introduce you to Roseann Kermes.

AFCI: How long have you been in the industry?

Roseann: I’ve been in the industry for 29 years and a member of the association for 15 years.

AFCI: Tell us about your current role and organization.

Roseann: I’m the owner of Rosebud’s Cottage, a retail store located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The store focuses on quilting and fiber arts as well as paper crafts. We host a series of ongoing crafting and quilting workshops, tours and special events.

AFCI: What initially drew you to the association?

Roseann: I joined the association because of the variety of benefits it provides for my business, but my primary motivation was for the resources to purchase products for my store.

AFCI: What do you hope to achieve by serving on the AFCI Board?

Roseann: I want to be an advocate and voice for independent retailers. I want to ensure that the programs AFCI develops and promotes will benefit retailers and help them succeed.

AFCI: What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the association?

Roseann: There are three primary benefits that you will receive when you join. First, Creativation is an event where you’ll be inspired and introduced to new products that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own. Next, the education programs developed for Creativation and throughout the year will enhance your business skills. Finally, networking opportunities that the association provides at live events and online allow you to meet and connect with industry peers.


Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists, speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend on them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. We recently had a chance to sit down with Rich and Georganne to learn more about their partnership and how they got started.

AFCI:  You’ve been active participants in the association and creative industry for the past 38 years.  How did your partnership begin?

K&B:  The first thing people want to know about us is if we are married. We are. Happily. Just not to each other. We met when we both worked for Ben Franklin Stores back in its heyday, and when craft stores first came on the scene. That was 29 years ago, and we’ve been business partners ever since!

AFCI:  What is a consumer anthropologist?

K&B:  We are probably most recognized in the creative industry as speakers, but did you ever wonder where the information we share in our keynotes and seminars comes from? That’s the consumer anthropology part. We do our own research, hosting focus groups, one-on-one interviews and onsite studies to interact with shoppers in their natural habitats. We spend a lot of time in stores, restaurants and other public areas where consumers tend to congregate. This research also helps us when we design and remodel stores as part of our consulting business.

AFCI:  What is the key to your successful partnership?

K&B:  Our partnership works because we’re polar opposites. Rich’s workspace is a creative mess; Georganne’s looks neat as long as you don’t open her desk drawers. Rich never stops thinking about the next big move. Georganne is deep into details, figuring out how to make that “next big thing” happen.  Rich’s brain never turns off; Georganne flips hers off like a light switch the second she leaves the office.  Rich devours business books like a madman. Georganne reads anything but. Rich prefers to focus on one thing at a time; Georganne is the queen of multitasking.

AFCI:  What are some of your biggest accomplishments over the past 29 years?

K&B:  Our Retail Adventures have grown to include titles of contributor to MSNBC’s “Your Business” and two of Retailing’s Most Influential People. We are listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, Top 11 Retail Industry Experts to Follow on Social Media, and the Top 100 Retail Influencers.  We’re BrainTrust panelists for RetailWire, retailing’s premier online discussion forum, and partners in the Independent Retailer Conference, held twice a year at ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. Our Retail Adventures Blog has been consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs, and our magazine column, “Georganne & Rich on the Road,” was twice honored with the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence. 

AFCI:  What’s next for KIZER & BENDER?

K&B:  Over the years we’ve learned a lot and shared a lot, helping retailers and service providers reach their full potential. We look forward to connecting with everyone in the creative industry and other industries that we serve. Each day brings new emails, telephone calls and texts from retailers who ask for advice, tell us a victory story or share a wacky sign for our KIZER & BENDER Facebook page.  Connecting with you is the best part of our day. Cheers to 29 more years!

To learn more about Rich and Georganne and the services KIZER & BENDER provides, visit


Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today, we introduce you to Lisa Kiser.

Lisa: I held various positions at Deutsch Advertising Agency including producer, project manager and account manager. After years in advertising, I decided it was time to bring the skills that I learned to my family business. 

AFCI: Tell us more about your current role.

Lisa: I am a fourth-generation family business member and serve as the director of marketing. I manage Beacon Adhesives marketing efforts, including digital marketing, social media, branding and design. In addition, I work on general management, new business development and growth of the company. 

AFCI: Beacon Adhesives has been an AFCI member since 1989. Since you started with the company six years ago, what have you seen as the most valuable benefit? 

Lisa: I have personally gained tremendous value from the connections I’ve established within the industry. AFCI plays a vital role in helping me do that through the events it produces and its online resources. 

AFCI: What inspired you to serve on the AFCI Board?

Lisa: I feel I can bring a fresh perspective that will result in success for the members and AFCI growth.

AFCI: What would you say to someone who is interested in joining AFCI?

Lisa: AFCI brings together the best of the industry. It is a great insider look at how the industry works and who works within it.


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Pete Cartwright, the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) senior associate of membership and operations. Pete oversees the daily membership operations of the association and uses his personal joy and passion for creativity to connect with AFCI members. 

Where are you from?

I was born and raised just outside of Chicago and moved to Wrigleyville after graduating from Illinois State University.

What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby?

I learned at a very young age from my mother and teachers that being creative and appreciating creativity is a cornerstone of a life worth living. I enjoy writing, making music, doodling, cooking, tie dye, belt-stamping, photography and woodworking.

How did you become interested in the creative activities that you participate in?

I had a lot of different influences. Growing up, my mom sewed and made detailed photo albums. My time as a career Boy Scout opened my eyes to creative activities like leather-working and woodworking. Through my education, I focused on the arts and music. I also worked at my family’s commercial ink factory. Being there spurred an interest in abstract art and color theory. I would mix and stir dyes and pigments together and photograph the results to pass the time until summer ended.

Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled?

When I was old enough, I joined Venture Scouts and went on a three-week backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. While I was there, I invested in a quality leather belt at a trading post and spent time throughout the trip documenting my journey with stamps, brands and engravings.

What’s the next creative project you’d like to try?

I would love to build my own guitar. I have my eyes on a C.M. Martin Rosewood “Build Your Own Guitar Kit” – if I could just trust myself not to break it.

AFCI Member Update – Strategic Direction

Last week, AFCI hosted its first Virtual Town Hall in which AFCI Chair of the Board Jim Thielen, AFCI Executive Director Peter Finn and staff shared updates on important new initiatives, AFCI’s strategic plan and Creativation 2020. Thank you to all who attended and asked thoughtful questions regarding the direction of our organization.

If you were unable to attend the Virtual Town Hall, watch this recording or read a summary of the discussion below:

Changing the Management Paradigm

As many of you know, the AFCI Board of Directors changed the management paradigm of the association by partnering with SmithBucklin, a leading association management company. On April 1, SmithBucklin took full responsibility for the operational aspects of the Association. Now three months in, we are confident we made the right decision for the future of the Association. The board can effectively focus its energy and expertise on strategy, while SmithBucklin offers deep operational expertise in the areas of event management, education, administration, technology and marketing.

New Mission and Vision

This spring, the Board completed a strategic planning session during which we made decisions on the strategic direction of the association. With these changes, we developed a new mission and vision for AFCI that better encapsulates our goals, philosophies and the impact of our organization.

The new vision is:

An active creator in every home in the world.

The new mission is:

AFCI advances the global creative community by connecting, inspiring and educating the industry professional who in turn engage and enable creators.

We believe that these two statements, when executed well, will position the association and our members to be successful in the marketplace today and in the future. 

2020 – 2022 Strategic Plan

The Board also finalized AFCI’s 2020-2022 strategic plan, which defines the goals we want to achieve, how we will make decisions as an association and allocate resources, and what we will provide to the membership. Focused around three strategic pillars, we are confident the 2020-2022 strategic plan will set AFCI on the right course moving forward.


Exciting updates are underway for Creativation 2020, January 16-20 in Phoenix, Arizona. The show will include new seminars and workshops, more education and more ways to connect with AFCI and your peers on the show floor. The exhibit hall will include a revamped AFCI booth and pavilions centered around different categories, including: bead and jewelry, edible art, new exhibitors, new product showcase, stamping and yarn and needlecraft. The education schedule will be announced in early September, with early registration opening on September 23.

Year-round Education

AFCI is focused on providing year-round education to our members and the creative industries as a whole to serve, reach and inspire end consumers. Creativation 2020 education includes outreach to invited speakers, more education sessions on the show floor and an expanded array of session topics. Moving into 2020 and beyond, AFCI looks to provide online education opportunities for all AFCI’s audiences via webinars, podcasts and more.

Content Strategy

Coming this fall, AFCI will unveil a new website and content hub that will be easy to navigate and provide a user-friendly experience for members and non-members seeking resources that can help them run their businesses. Serving as the home for all AFCI content — from AFCI news and blog to Gradient articles — the content hub will be a valuable resource for our members. The new AFCI website will include a more sophisticated membership database and member center to support you as you interact with the Association.

AFCI is committed to listening to you, working to strengthen our relationships and delivering value in all that we do together. AFCI will continue to increase our membership engagements — including the formation of new committees for volunteer involvement, member visits by AFCI board members and staff and regular updates via email and Virtual Town Halls.

Why Participating in Live Events Is Great for Your Business

More brands than ever are investing in experiential marketing, a tactic for selling products and services through activities that engage your customers. Experiential marketing makes your customers active participants in your marketing campaign and allows them to develop a personal relationship with your brand. Have you ever organized a make-n-take in your store or exhibited at Creativation? If so, then you’ve already used experiential marketing to drive interest in your company and products.

Here are some of the most significant benefits of participating in a live event.


According to the Radicati Group, a provider of quantitative and qualitative research on email, an estimated 269 billion emails are sent each day. Furthermore, DMR, a curator of statistics, reports approximately 50% of emails are considered spam. Messages can be overlooked when sending them through email. The amount of noise decreases when you engage your customers in person.


Showing your products in person lets you see and hear real reactions to what you are selling or creating.  It gives you an opportunity to talk with prospective customers about what they like in a no-pressure setting. Meeting customers face-to-face, hearing what they have to say, and gaining valuable product feedback is important and can energize your company.


Events are a goldmine of easy, interesting content. When everyone is having a good time, people love to talk about products, share their experience online and feature what they love in social media posts. It is also a great way to grow your customer list by collecting contact information in person.


Giveaways, competitions and teaching new skills within your event space are excellent ways to make brand activation memorable – and it’s possible to do on a small budget. 

Live events are a great way to engage your customers, increase sales and grow your customer base. As with any marketing campaign, developing an experience at a live event takes time and preparation. But the return on investment can be worthwhile. If you get stuck in a rut along the way, remember as your Association, AFCI is here to help you! Contact us at to learn more or for more information on Creativation, North America’s largest creative industry trade event.


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Alexia Malamis, the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) senior manager of Finance Management and Accounting Services. Alexia oversees all of the Association’s accounting activities.

Where are you from?

I’ve always lived in the Chicago area. I grew up in Palos Hills, Illinois. I moved to the city of Chicago during college and stayed there for 10 years. Now I live in Elmhurst, Illinois.

What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby?

I really enjoy creative activities, especially when it comes to decorating for parties. Designing tablescapes is my favorite part. I enjoy running outdoors and have completed two marathons. Working out and shopping for bargains are also passions of mine.

Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled?

I’ve worked with three of my kids on their state projects. I have one more to go in two years for my youngest son!

What’s a creative project you’d like to try?

I love using different fabrics when I decorate and want to continue incorporating different textured fabrics—smooth, bumpy, fuzzy, shiny—in my party décor.


Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today we introduce you to Ashley Smith.

AFCI: Your experience in the industry over the past 20-plus years makes you a perfect representative of AFCI. Tell us some more about your current role.

ASHLEY: I am the Senior Manager of Education at Missouri Star Quilt Company, a large ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailer, serving the quilting community all over the world. Education is paramount to everything we do. I oversee our educational initiatives to ensure that our customers have access to channels of learning throughout their creative journey.

AFCI: You are reaching your third year of membership with the Association. What initially drew you to join?

ASHLEY: There are so many benefits that the Association provides for me, personally, and for our business. What drew me to the Association were the networking opportunities. I am able to network with adjacent industries that create occasions for learning and strengthening our business and industry.

AFCI: What do you hope to achieve by serving on the AFCI Board?

ASHLEY: As a board member, I aim to support and guide the Association in creating true value for the members. I want to be an advocate for my fellow members by ensuring that all programs and benefits make sense to the individual member segments, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

AFCI: What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

ASHLEY: AFCI is a strong organization comprised of a variety of member segments, which presents as a wonderful networking opportunity. The Association strives to produce programming and events that truly benefit all members.


Thousands of individuals are taking their favorite hobbies and passions and turning them into craft businesses. In addition to innovative high-value services, the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) fosters an invaluable industry support network that entrepreneurial startups can connect with to help them grow. We reached out to some of the craft industry’s most successful entrepreneurs for advice, tips and lessons they learned along the way.

KIM EVANS, Emerald Creek Craft Supplies – Supplier Member

“My biggest piece of advice for the new business owner is to find a good, strong mentor. Find someone who is willing to share industry secrets without hesitation in order to help you bypass hurdles that you would normally have to overcome. This will make sure you’re structured for growth before you begin to scale up.”

BROOKE ROE, Pinspiration – Buyer Member

“For new business owners, looking at big-picture systems through the lens of convenience is crucial. What can you automate, eliminate or delegate to help make doing business with you a pleasure? If you have more than one customer asking the same question, perhaps it’s time to adjust your response and automate by adding that question to your website FAQs. Look at eliminating any recurring tasks that suck up your time with little return. Delegate as much as you can to your strongest employees. Spending time to train on systems upfront is not as easy as doing things yourself, but it pays off in the long run.”

EILEEN HULL, Eileen Hull, LLC – Designer Member

“Be creative in all ways, not just in your craft. Set achievable goals and figure out ways to make them happen. If one way doesn’t work, chalk it up to experience and try another route. Do your best and don’t beat yourself up. Remember to live in between working. Smile a lot and be friendly. Do the research. Hire out when you need to. The thing that makes your business special is you, so don’t apologize for being yourself. Embrace your creative path and enjoy the journey.”

For more great tips from your industry peers, take a look at the article titled “What’s Your Biggest Piece of Advice for New Business Owners” in the summer issue of Gradient. For more information on how to take advantage of all that AFCI has to offer, contact Jason Baum, Director of Membership and Marketing at

Summer Trends Report

This Trends Report is brought to you by the AFCI Trends Committee.

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Trends Committee is always on the lookout for creative trends to keep your business in the know about what’s popular on the Internet, and with crafters, makers and DIYers.  Here are the current trends we are seeing.


Submitted by Candy Rosenberg, {a vintage girl}


Chipboard has been around for many years and has been a mainstay in mixed media art and layouts.  However, it is now showing up more in albums and junk journals due to its versatility; giving great dimension to these kinds of projects. The designs can range from simple shapes to very intricate designs, allowing for a full array of choices for your project. Chipboard can be altered in a variety of ways with mediums like paint, shimmer sprays and pastes – or, just leave them natural and use brown ink to keep the vintage look.


Submitted by Debra Quartermain, Debra Quartermain Design

Craft Work Look

The ‘craft work’ look coming down the runway for summer is very similar to the popular Boho style with fringe, lace and appliques used on everything from summer dresses to jeans and bags.  Hats and flip-flops are making a statement adorned with feathers, ribbons and other trims.  Summer is a time for playful creativity and with a pair of scissors, fabric adhesive and assorted trims. Trendy fashion items can be easily made and personalized.


Submitted by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Crafty Chica, LLC

Painted Flower Pots

Artfully painted flower pots have become part of DIY culture. We’re not talking about our beloved decoupage planters, but high-level techniques from gallery painters who are applying their visual messages in a functional and decorative way. And it’s not just about the planter; it’s also about what goes inside. Muralist Jeff Slim of Phoenix, Arizona, is an example. He is known for his collection of one-of-a-kind pieces that he sells in gallery shops and boutiques around the state.


Submitted by Lisa Kettell,

Embroidery Hoops.jpeg

Embroidery hoops and circular art are hitting hard this year. From florals, design to party, the hoop is where it’s at. Put a picture inside, weave it up or create a centerpiece.


Submitted by Lisa Kettell,

We are seeing a spike in rainbow love! Watch for unique color palettes and styles – especially warm hues such as beige, creams, spicy oranges, rose, muted blues, violets and garden greens.


Submitted by Lisa Kettell,


Narwhals are back and bigger than ever. They are the new unicorn for 2019, while sloths are becoming the new llama.


Submitted by Lisa Kettell,


Move over pink: Orange is taking over. The hot color palette this year is corals, tropical citrus and muted pastels.


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Jackie Janus, the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) Trade Show Manager based in the Chicago office. Jackie will contribute to the coordination of all aspects of Creativation to ensure a successful event for the people in attendance.

Where are you from?

I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.

What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby?

Crafting is not a strong suit of mine. I keep up with photo books and my daughter’s baby book, but usually I just envy craft people. My favorite hobby currently is gardening and making my yard look pretty!

Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled?

I’ve painted and refinished some old furniture. When we bought our house, I received some old furniture from family. I sanded, painted and changed out the hardware to make it more modern and fit within the décor of my house.

What’s the creative project you’d like to try?

I’d like to try a stamping project. When I attended Creativation 2019, the stamp options were so intriguing to me!


Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today we introduce you to Jim Scatena.

Jim Scatena

AFCI: You have had an impressive career in the industry. Can you tell us more about your background?

JIM: I’ve called this industry home for 35 years. In 2017 I retired as President & CEO of FloraCraft Corporation. Prior to that, I was vice president and general manager of Wilton Enterprises; and director of sales at Crayola. I now serve as a management consultant and advisor.

AFCI: How long have you been a member of AFCI?

JIM: I have been a consistent member in the industry associations since 1984. I was drawn to the Association for the opportunities it provided to participate in building the creative industry. I was chairman of both the Hobby Industry of America (HIA) and later the Association of Crafts & Creative Industries (ACCI). I played a key role in the merger of those two associations into one global trade association which became the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA), now AFCI. I eventually served as the Association’s Chairman and Chief Governance office of the Board of Directors.      

AFCI: What do you hope to achieve serving on the AFCI Board this time around?

JIM: I hope to combine my industry experience with my business development skills to help the AFCI Board and staff create growth opportunities for all AFCI members.

AFCI: What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

JIM: AFCI is the most important association for anyone at any level in the creative industry. Influencer, designer, buyer or seller, you will have the opportunity to network and connect with significant industry resources who are all willing to share and help you grow.

AFCI: What is your favorite memory from an AFCI event?

JIM:  I attended my first craft industry trade show in 1986 and fell in love with the energy, creativity and people who were so dedicated to serving the needs of the creative consumer.  My favorite memory was seeing a small, new creative products supplier be recognized at Creativation for the Best New Product!

Meet AFCI’s New Executive Director

We are pleased to introduce you to Peter Finn, the Association For Creative Industries’ Peter_Finn(AFCI) Executive Director.  Peter will lead the organization and execute the newly defined strategic priorities.  We had the opportunity to talk to Peter about his prior experience and what he is looking forward to most in his new role.

Congratulations on your new role as the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) Executive Director.  What initially drew you to our organization?

The potential growth of the organization is what initially drew me to the opportunity of Executive Director–AFCI has a fantastic value proposition. It became apparent during the interview process that AFCI has a passionate membership, strong leadership in its board of directors, and programs that are well positioned for success. Additionally, much of my work for the last 11 years has been in STEM but I’ve become increasingly interested in the intersection of the arts and STEM–or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) initiatives and activities. The chance to work for an organization that supports a global community of creators and artists of all ages is very appealing.

Can you give us a taste for what you hope to accomplish as the new executive director of AFCI?

At the start I want to listen and learn from members and stakeholders, while also looking at opportunities to work on expanding AFCI’s digital footprint, developing a content roadmap that informs the programming for Creativation and other activities through the year, and develop new educational programs for our membership.

What are some of the important initiatives for AFCI this year and next?

As the new Executive Director, I want build on the past success of the Creativation conference and identify new strategies to better engage conference participants onsite. I look forward to working with the events team and volunteers to source some new ideas and elevate the overall experience for everyone at the conference. We will also examine and audit the AFCI’s current content and generate ideas for new content and education through the year.

What type of creative activities do you like to do with your children?

My wife works at the Art Institute of Chicago and oversees a number of their educational programs. The kids and I will often participate in the family festivals that she runs on the weekends. There are often a number of activities going on from print making to drawing to textile arts.  Both of my kids go to fine and performing art magnet cluster schools (Chicago Public Schools) in Chicago so invariably there is some kind of creative project in the works on any given week.

What excites you most about the future of the creative industry?

What excites me about the creative industry is its impact on people in helping them cultivate their creative practices whether it be at home or as a professional.  There is also so much opportunity for the AFCI when you take into consideration that the US craft industry is estimated at $36 billion.

What is one thing about you that might surprise our members?

The first conference I helped organize early in my career was in Cape Town, South Africa about 6 years after apartheid had ended. I was able to meet many of the people involved in the anti-apartheid movement. I was about 24 at the time and it was a truly life changing experience to be around so many inspiring people. We had over 10,000 attendees and Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama were our keynote speakers.


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Kate Purdy, the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) Marketing Manager based in the Washington, D.C. office. Kate will be overseeing all of the Association’s marketing and communication efforts. She is also a self-taught knitter.

Where are you from?

I’m from Schenectady, New York and have been in the Washington, D.C. area for 11 years.


What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby?

I love to knit! I taught myself about seven years ago after purchasing a starter kit from a local yarn store. I try to tackle a few projects each year. I wish I could spend more time knitting than I currently do, but I have a project ready and waiting for me for my upcoming summer trips!

Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled?

The biggest DIY project I recently undertook was for my daughter’s first birthday party in December. It was a penguin-themed party, and I constructed the invitations and party décor. She loved it and I’m already starting to brainstorm what I can do for her next birthday!  

What’s a creative project you’d like to try?

I am really interested in learning how to spin and dye my own yarn. I attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of years ago and loved seeing makers spinning yarn on different spindles and wheels. The festival really showed me the big picture, from seeing sheep being sheared to the raw fleece, dyed wool, yarn and finished products for sale. I’m not quite sure where to start and maybe when my daughter is a little older, we’ll learn how to do it together!   

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – URSULA MORGAN

Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today we introduce you to Ursula Morgan.

AFCI:  Congratulations on rejoining the AFCI board. How long have you been a member of AFCI, and what initially drew you to join the Association?

URSULA:  In 2006, I became a member of the Association and attended my first AFCI ursulatrade show with Future Publishing as the publisher for Simply Knitting magazine. I didn’t initially know much about the Association, but I had heard the event was a great place for inspiration, information and new contacts that would help build our magazines and websites.  As I worked my way up to vice president at Future Media’s U.S. operations, the Association continued to be an integral part of our growth strategy.

In 2013, I joined Creativebug. While at Creativebug, I was lucky enough to serve on the AFCI Board of Directors. My tenure as president and CEO, as well as my AFCI board role, ended in April 2017 when we were acquired by JOANN. Now, as SVP of Digital Innovation at CSS Industries, I get to lead the Digital Innovation team designing and building the absolute best software and experiences in the celebration and life event space.  I’m excited to be joining the AFCI board again and bringing the knowledge I’ve gained.

AFCI:  What do you hope to achieve by serving on the AFCI Board of Directors?

URSULA:  My motivation is the same as it was back when I first served. I have a deep love and passion for the industry, and I want the Association to be an important part of people’s craft business.  The Association was vital in helping me build my career in this industry. It has helped me stay relevant and introduced me to people whom I adore. The industry is rapidly segmenting and changing, making it as important as ever for the Association to be relevant for its members, and I see myself aiding in that process.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

URSULA:  You will get out of it what you put into it. Utilize every aspect of your Association. It provides great business intelligence, such as the research, networking and support.

Board nominations are now being accepted through May 15.  Nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the deadline. 

Do you need more reasons why you should serve?  Check out our recent blog post “The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors”.


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Tara Gray, the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) Convention Manager.  Tara is an energetic and organized event pro.  She will be working with the events team to ensure Creativation is a success for everyone in attendance.

Where are you from?  I was born in Robinson, Illinois. tara_gray

What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby?   I make 20 hand-decorated purses each year for the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.  The Krewe of Nyx hosts a Mardi Gras parade with 3,383 women riders, 44 floats and more than 60,000 hand-decorated purses that are thrown to crowds of more than 150,000.  The purses are considered one of the top 10 special throws of Mardi Gras each year.


Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled?  My Mardi Gras headdress for 2019.  The jewels in the photo below were all hand placed.


What’s a creative project you’d like to try?  This is a real thing, even though it sounds crazy.  For Mardi Gras 2020, I will be decorating plungers and purses for special throws.  That being said, I need to figure out how to put glitter transfers on plungers!  If you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments below!


Tara can be reached at or 312-637-5358.

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – LAWRENCE HOFFMAN

Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry.  We recently had the opportunity to speak with board member, Lawrence Hoffman on his experience and why he chose to serve.

AFCI:  We’d love to hear more about your time in the industry and the role you play in your current organization.


LAWRENCE:  My experience with arts and crafts started at 12 years old in Richmond, Texas, working for Mike Dupey in his Michaels store. My job was cleaning restrooms and breakrooms for $1.00 per hour.  From that point, I had the opportunity to work in almost every facet of a retail organization from stocking shelves to managing departments. After college, I worked for 12 years managing the POG department for Michaels/MJDesigns until MJDesigns went out of business in February 1999.

From there, my career took a different turn.  I went into the staffing business selling engineering and IT staffing along with IT solutions.  Four years later, the familiar retail itch needed scratching. I became a Visual Merchandising Manager with a retailer by the name of Gadzooks, creating store layouts and designs, merchandise presentations and advertising campaigns.

When Gadzooks sold to Forever 21, I got back into the craft industry working for Randy Putnam and Associates (now known as CSC). I helped manufacturers design, develop, sell and market products to retailers primarily in the arts and crafts/home décor retail channels.

My tenure at RPA gave me the opportunity to work with world-class manufacturers and retailers. Now, I’m the vice president of Sales and Marketing for Uchida of America, leading and directing the sales and marketing operations, product development, packaging development, social media and email marketing, trade show management, catalog and sales sheet production and more.

AFCI:  What do you hope to achieve serving on the AFCI Board?

LAWRENCE:  I have been involved in the arts and crafts business for more than 30 years in many different capacities. With my experience on the retail side, the representative side and the manufacturing side, I feel that I have a well-rounded perspective and have a lot to offer the board and organization.

I have also had the opportunity to experience other industries, such as junior apparel, IT and staffing. I can tap into this experience to provide creative suggestions and direction. I love this industry (it is in my blood) and feel that I can make a positive impact on helping create a sustainable future.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

LAWRENCE: I would say that it is vital to join the Association. Things are evolving quicker than ever before. It is important for people to get involved with the industry that they are in. You need to know what is going on but also be an active participant. There is so much we can learn from each other. There is a wealth of experience and information available, and not tapping into that will definitely make the path more difficult.

Board nominations are now being accepted through May 15.  Nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the deadline. 

Do you need more reasons why you should serve?  Check out our recent blog post “The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors”.

The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors


We often get asked, “Why should I consider serving on the board for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI)?”  We’ve put together the top four reasons why you should nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the May 15 deadline.


Serving on a board can be both professionally and personally rewarding.  It is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI at this important time in our industry.  AFCI members are its best advocates.

When you join, you are immediately connected to a global community who you can engage with to exchange ideas.  You are also exposed to new industry opportunities that develop and may potentially grow your business.” – Jim Thielen, Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors


If elected to serve, you will join an influential network of industry executives and volunteer committee members. Every board connection you make expands your network and increases the potential to further your career.

“The time spent listening and learning from my fellow board members is invaluable.  Their expertise, knowledge and understanding of the industry makes me more informed and a better board member.” – Brad Beck, Secretary, AFCI Board of Directors


Board service provides you with a break from the norm. You will have the ability to participate on committees or in discussions that may not relate to your current job.  As a board member, you will develop, review or monitor AFCI long-range plans, such as budgets, investments and strategic business plans.

“The benefit you get out of your experience is directly related to what you put in.  The business intelligence, networking and support you gain from serving can be used to grow your own business.” – Ursula Morgan, AFCI Board of Directors


Board members attend four in-person meetings throughout the year, one of which is held during Creativation, with occasional conference calls added as needed.  AFCI pays for three in-person meetings for board members but not for attendance at Creativation. This includes airfare, hotel, ground transportation and meals.

“The rewards you receive volunteering for the Association outweigh the limited amount of time you spend at Board meetings and on committee calls.   I’ve gained so much professionally and personally from this experience and I look forward to helping the Association grow throughout the rest of my term.” – Ashley Smith, AFCI Board of Directors

We hope we’ve inspired you to join the AFCI Board of Directors.  Board nominations are due on May 15.  For questions or further information, please contact Janet Rapp, Interim Executive Director at

How to Measure ROI in Social Media

By Leanne Pressly, Stitchcraft Marketing


In today’s world, a compelling marketing plan must include social media. While social media platforms have transformed the digital advertising landscape, the metrics key to successful campaigns are still elusive.

For most businesses, seeing high numbers of followers or likes is an easy metric to decide how well their social media campaign is doing. However, in the long run, these numbers are meaningless, especially when it comes to your return on investment (ROI).

So, with that in mind, we want to take a closer look at social media marketing and help you create a better method for measuring ROI.

Step One: What Are Your Goals?

Whenever you start a new social media campaign, you should have a clear and definitive idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, commonly called SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Examples include growing overall sales on your website, increasing your conversion rate, raising brand awareness or building your newsletter list.

Knowing specifically what you’re trying to measure will help you successfully measure your ROI in social media. So, whatever your goal, make sure that it’s quantifiable. Site visits, sales numbers and email subscribers are all hard numbers that can then be calculated into money earned. If you have a nebulous goal in mind, figuring out your ROI will be next to impossible.

Step Two: Learn How to Analyze Your Numbers

One of the greatest tools at your disposal is Google Analytics. This online platform allows you to track data from a variety of sources, including social media. Additionally, many social sites like Facebook provide stats for your profile.

There are several great resources to help you make sense of this data such as A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Analytics from Hootsuite and the Google Analytics for Beginners course from Google Analytics Academy. Overall, the purpose of using these tools is to provide a foundation for measuring ROI quickly and accurately.

Step Three: Determine Your Investment

To make sure that your time, effort and money are paying off, you should first understand what you’re putting into your social media campaigns. Consider the following factors:

  • Hours Worked: The more time you or your team invest in setting up, managing and monitoring your social media campaign, the more it affects your bottom line.
  • Content Creation: In many cases, you may outsource your content to third-party services. For example, hiring a professional photographer or copywriter.
  • Social Software Plans: While it’s free to set up social media accounts, there are many time-saving apps and management tools that cost money.
  • PPC Ads: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an excellent way to budget your marketing campaign. Since you only pay when someone clicks on your link, you can manage your investment and ROI more easily.

Step Four: Calculate Your Earnings

Now it’s time to put everything in terms of dollars so you can determine how your goals will impact your bottom line.

Keep in mind that unless your primary goal is sales, then you’re working with projections, not actual stats. Here are some examples to help you get started:

  • Lifetime Value per Customer: How much do you earn from your average customer? This will be a benchmark when converting leads into sales.
  • Average Sales Visit: When people shop on your site (or in store), what’s the average sales ticket?
  • Conversion Rate: How many leads turn into customers?

No matter what your social media goals are, the end result should be money spent with your company. To do this, you’ll need to find a way to quantify how many of your social leads and engagements turn into paying customers or clients.

For example, a promoted Facebook post that drives traffic to your website can be expected to net you a specific number of sales per click. If you get 100 clicks and have a 5% conversion rate, each post should gain you five new customers. If your lifetime value per customer is $85, then your promoted post should generate $425 in sales per every 100 clicks.

Let’s say your goal is more nebulous, and you want to increase brand awareness. In this case, measuring ROI in terms of dollars and cents might look like this: First, determine how many of your current followers shop from your website on average — this will be your benchmark for determining ROI. From there, you can calculate how much ROI you should net from gaining X number of followers per week or month. If you’re not hitting those goals, it’s time to re-evaluate your social posting strategy.

Bottom Line: Know Your Numbers

Analyzing your social media marketing on a regular basis using SMART goals will help you determine what is (and isn’t) working for your brand.

If you have questions about calculating or increasing your ROI in social media, contact Stitchcraft Marketing today, and we’ll help you craft a better business!


This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Lydia Kamicar, the Association For lydiaCreative Industries’ (AFCI) Director of Education and Learning Services based in AFCI’s Chicago office.  Lydia will be overseeing all of the Association’s education offerings both at Creativation and throughout the year.  She is also a DIY aficionado who isn’t afraid to push her creative comfort zone.

Where are you from? I’m from Northeast Wisconsin but have called Chicago home for the last 15 years.

What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby? I like paper and stamps – making gift tags out of old holiday cards is a particular favorite!

Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled? I made most of the décor for my wedding and was particularly proud of keeping our centerpieces to $25 a table. This involved IKEA lanterns, blue votive candles, painted kraft boxes, and many many hours spent hot gluing gray, yellow and navy yarn around Smoothfoam balls.

Photo credit: GReyes Photography

A few years back I found a tutorial to make a shag rug out of t-shirts and had to give it a try. It involved about 8,000 strips of white t-shirt, dyed with Rit in the washing machine. After 60+ hours, I ended up with some latch hook skills and a 2.5’ x 3’ shaggy gray rug that looked great in our living room and was soft on the feet.

What’s a creative project you’d like to try? I’m starting to plan out a “grocery store” for my kids’ playroom. We’ll make some felt food and craft a fabric awning over the counter-height shelving. I haven’t done much with felt before, so excited to give it a try. My inspiration is coming from Lucy Sparrow’s Convenience Store art installations.

Lydia can be reached at or 312-673-5725.

SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT: Alice Globus, Winky&Dutch

One of the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) newest members, Winky&Dutch, became an instant success after winning the New Product Award at Creativation 2019 for their Machine-Washable Picture Buttons.   We had a chance to sit down with Winky&Dutch owner, Alice Globus to learn more about her entrepreneurial spirit and her award winning product.

Alice Globus, President of Winky&Dutch

AFCI:     Tell us more about you!

Alice:     I am a former rocket scientist from Wall Street who left my career to run the family business after my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  Driven by my love of Star Trek, I studied chemistry and astrophysics later working at an observatory in Chile before entering into finance.  As a fierce supporter of women, I am a member of the board of the Financial Women’s Association, an organization that works to propel women’s careers within the financial sector and empowers underrepresented women by teaching them about financial literacy.

AFCI:     How did Winky&Dutch get started, and what do you contribute to its success?

Alice:     Winky&Dutch was founded by my father, Ronald Globus, and my uncles, his identical twin brothers, Ric and Steve, in 1987. Most observers would consider our founders eccentric with a flair for photography, engineering and fashion. They revolutionized photography with the invention of the first panoramic camera and the lenticular lens, which they lovingly called “Winky.” The Globus Brothers’ search for creative ways to share photographic art led to the Winky&Dutch legacy. Today, I’m proud to be running this women-owned family business.

AFCI:     Tell us more about your award-winning Machine Washable Picture Buttons.

Machine-Washable Picture Buttons by Winky&Dutch

Alice:     I conceptualized our new patent pending machine-washable cabochon shank buttons while I was pregnant with my son, Theodore. I was too tired to hand wash my laundry adorned with Winky&Dutch buttons. Not letting the baby bump slow me down, I applied my chemistry background to design picture buttons that I could just throw in the washer and not worry about hand washing!   

The result was the creation of quality art buttons for handicrafts, knitting and home sewing. Now, I want to make these buttons as widely available to not only moms but also to anyone who wants something fun, unique and creative without a hassle and can trust that their crafts will hold up over the long term.  This is the first innovation in buttons in more than 50 years!

We can create the perfect images within our cabochons to meet the targeted market crafter based on needs of a geographic location or seasonal trends. 

AFCI:  As an accomplished entrepreneur, what advice can you share with entrepreneurs in the creative arts industries?

Alice:     I am a firm believer there are three things that make for a successful entrepreneur:  

The first is finding a niche market that is being underserved. What problem are you solving?  In our situation, there are no machine washable picture buttons on the market. Markets in multiple sectors are taking notice. We have a technology to allow for customization on one button at a time.  How fun would it be if you could upload a photo or pieces of artwork that you made and then a week later, have a denim jacket with those buttons on there?  This is something we are working on developing now.  

Persistence is the next attribute that makes for a successful entrepreneur.  It took me close to two years to design, develop and now begin to execute on a new concept.  We had a lot of bad product before a final product was available.  This rule of persistence also applies if you are trying to raise capital, bring on advisers or the right partners.  You will hear a lot of no’s before your first yes.  You must stick with it to get the results you want.  It is also important to know when something is not working.  It can be extremely difficult to give up after a lot of time and money has gone into something, but you need to acknowledge when you are throwing good resources into a bad well and learn from it.

Lastly, and most important to me, is having the support of your family.  This may sound sappy, but you generally need to have two years’ worth of cash in the bank in order to start a new business.  During that time, you will be in a state where having the emotional support of your family to believe in you when you are putting in the hours is extremely important.  If your husband, wife or parents do not believe in what you are trying to create, it will be very hard to justify to them why you are traveling so much for investor meetings or working long hours to prepare for a sales meeting.  Fortunately for me, my family and fiancé truly believe in me and how I can execute.  

Learn more about Winky&Dutch by visiting their website

Gear Up For Greatness! Make Art Your Business and Life

Guest post from AFCI Creator VIP, Carol Foldvary-Anderson /

Carol Foldvary-Anderson /

If you believe you have to be organized for the future, you are right! We make plans for a vacation, but do we make plans for our future art businesses? Make the mental and physical space so when our time comes, we will be ready and prepared to move forward with ease, accessibility and excitement.

Organizing, clearing out the old and embracing change: It is all about gearing up for what is to come and preparing ourselves for the new life and projects that are truly exciting and those that with which we want to be involved. 

It’s important that time is spent clearing and cleaning: Eliminating the old to prepare and make room for the new life that is ahead. Letting go is the first thing necessary to take place. Let go of those undone projects, those items and art materials that no longer serve you and take away your feelings of being an accomplished, productive human being and art business professional.

I came across a great article years ago that said the things and “stuff” that surround us are essentially representing a part of our past, our present and our future. Take a moment and access that thought. How many of us live in the past? Are you saving tons of dried out paints, crinkled and ripped textured papers, buttons, beads and fabrics that seem to be more in the way than they are inspiring?  Just think about it: How much space are they taking up not only in our studio but also in our mind?

If you are not truly where you wish to be or feel you should be in your life and career, it might be due to a lingering in the comfort zone. As we release and step out of our present comfort zone, we connect to the things and projects that stir our imagination and our inspiration. We are revitalized and given new energy to do that which we wish to be doing in the future. Start moving in the direction that excites you — that direction is the future.

This is your invitation to “Gear up and prepare for Greatness!” Clear out and let go of all of the “stuff” to make the space for the projects coming and for the new art creations to materialize.

It is a scary thought to step out of the past and into the unknown. It is difficult to give away or let go of that beautiful this or that, which is now fully dust laden. Once you embrace the idea, to review your life and studio, and renew yourself, you will find an abundance of new opportunities opening up for you that you had only dreamed of.

“Gear up for Greatness!” As it is in your grasp, give it all you’ve got and more by letting go!

Association For Creative Industries Announces 2019 New Product Awards

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI), the international trade association for the design, manufacture, distribution and retail sales of creative arts products, announced the winners of its popular New Product Awards.

In January 2019 at Creativation, AFCI’s international conference and trade show, manufacturers from all over the world submitted new and innovative retail products in the Show’s New Product Showcase. The judges, consisting of leading industry buyers, influencers and editors, selected the winners based on what makes the product unique, how the product will improve the crafter’s overall experience, and the interest and excitement the product generates for those outside of the crafting community.

The New Product Winners for 2019 are:

FOIL QUILL by American Crafts/We R Memory Keepers


The Foil Quill heat pen allows you to foil projects using your electronic cutting machine! Simply insert the Foil Quill into your machine and foil any design with precision. It works great on paper, chipboard, vinyl, leather and more. With multiple tip sizes and dozens of foil colors, the customization is endless.



These new patent pending machine washable picture buttons are the first innovation in sew on buttons in more than 50 years. Each button is handcrafted in the United States.



The DRIP-LESS glue guns are a joy to use! The patent pending multi-chamber design reduces dripping and stringing, while providing a top-notch gluing experience with more power, faster heating time, ergonomic design, specially engineered nozzles and precise three-finger trigger.

Other New Product releases displayed during Creativation 2019 include:

The Benefits of Creativity

Did you know that crafting can reduce stress and build self-esteem? In fact, research by the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) shows that activities ranging from scrapbooking to knitting can enhance your overall wellness in a variety of ways.

Since March is National Craft Month, there is no better time to try a creative activity. Throughout the month, brick-and-mortar and online stores will explore the many benefits of crafting. Numerous demonstrations, displays and exciting opportunities will highlight the ways you can spend time creating projects that provide both joy and fulfillment.

The charts below showcase some fun facts about the attitudes crafters have toward their activities.  This information is from AFCI’s 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study.


Overall, participating in crafts is special to crafters, and they would really miss it if they stopped. These feelings are strongest among those who participate in edible arts, painting and drawing, as well as kids crafts; followed by paper crafts and knitting and crochet.



Participating in craft activities makes most crafters feel proud.  Activities like paper crafting, painting and drawing, knitting and crochet, as well as needle arts make crafters feel relaxed.  Those who participate in edible arts and kids crafts also feel excited and joyful.



Crafters gain a sense of accomplishment by participating in craft activities.  When people participate in kids crafts they achieve warm relationships and a fun and enjoyable life.


Reap the benefits all month long by following us on social media and #NationalCraftMonth.

Follow us:

Facebook @AFCI.Global

Twitter @AFCI_Global

Instagram @afci_global

New Blog Series: Meet the AFCI Staff – Familiar Faces and New Team Members

As part of the transition to our new management partner, AFCI looks forward to introducing a new staff team who will serve our members and help the Association continue to thrive. The team has spent the last few months working together to ensure a seamless transition.

Each month, the AFCI Blog will introduce you to two staff members who are excited to join the AFCI team.

One name members may already recognize is Jason Baum, who will continue to support AFCI as the Director of Membership. Jason has served AFCI for the last 7 years and has fostered strong relationships with members and industry leaders.

JBaum_revisedJason is a father of one beautiful little girl, an avid (or rabid) football fan, record lover, audiophile, coffee addict, Ugly Christmas Sweater aficionado and guitar player.  He is a professional communicator and collaborator with over 13 years of experience in the marketing, customer service and event world.  Jason’s dream is to win the lottery and invest in a McDonald’s franchise (seriously).  He’s fueled by his love of tequila, 90’s hip-hop and tortilla chips.

Jason would love to hear from you!  Give him a call at 201-835-1218 or send him an email at

We would also like to introduce Kris King, a Sales Manager based in AFCI’s Kristina_King_032315_144Chicago office. Kris will be an integral contributor to Creativation 2020’s success, as she leads exhibit space and sponsorship sales for AFCI’s flagship event.

  • Where are you from? Waynesville, MO
  • What’s your favorite craft and/or hobby? I love to bake. I have dreams of opening up my own cupcake shop one day!
  • Any cool DIY projects you’ve tackled? I love cake decorating. I have made a few cakes for friends and family that were a little more extensive than a box mix, and I have done a few character cupcakes. Recently, I have ventured into cookie decorating, which I really enjoy.  Years ago, I was really into scrapbooking and would love to get back into that as well. Crafting, in general, has always been a feel-good project for me: When I feel stressed or need a pick-me-up, its easy to pull out my KitchenAid or my scrapbook box and see what happens. It’s a wonderful creative outlet.
  • What creative project would you like to try? I want to learn how to knit. I have tried to teach myself and have failed royally! Anyone have some good pointers?

Kris can be reached at or by calling (312) 673-5505.

Stay tuned as AFCI introduces more Association staff members.


National Craft Month Celebrates 25 Years

With 62% of U.S. households crafting at least one project a year, AFCI is proud to announce the 25th annual celebration of National Craft Month.  Running the entire month of March, National Craft Month was started in 1994 as a way to help people discover the joy of crafting and all its many benefits.  National Craft Month has grown from a handful of retailers and manufacturers into an international celebration of creativity with millions of participants underscoring the familiar and near-universal experience of crafting.  Join us on social media all month long as we share our members’ stories, showcase hot new products, trends and more!  Let us know what you are doing to celebrate by using the hashtag #NationalCraftMonth.

Follow us:

Facebook @AFCI.Global

Twitter @AFCI_Global

Instagram @afci_global

National Craft Month fun facts_2019

Candidate Nominations Now Being Accepted for the 2020 Board of Directors

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) is pleased to announce that the 2019 Nominating Committee is now accepting candidate nominations for the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors. Nominations will be accepted through May 1, 2019.

AFCI members can fill out the Board Director Nomination Form or request a copy by contacting AFCI at ­­­­­312-673-5769 or .  Any AFCI member may nominate an Association member or submit him/herself as a candidate to sit on the AFCI Board of Directors for terms beginning January 2020.  Members who currently serve on the Board of Directors who are interested in extending their service must reapply through this nomination process.

The AFCI Board of Directors consists of individuals representing the various sections of the AFCI membership. Members of the AFCI Board of Directors serve a three-year term in which they meet quarterly to address the needs of the industry from a strategic viewpoint, strengthen the ties between AFCI members and the Association, and guide the focus of AFCI to provide member value. Members of the AFCI Board of Directors serve on a voluntary basis, through which they establish networking and business opportunities, advance their careers through industry leadership, and contribute their voice as advocates for AFCI members.

All nominations will be considered by the 2019 Nominating Committee:

  • Chuck McGonigle – Committee Chair
  • Bradley Beck (DESIGN MASTER color tool, inc.)
  • Eric Sauma (Mood Fabrics)
  • Stan Clifford (DecoArt Inc.)
  • Jessica Goursolas (The Creative Network, Inc.)
  • David Ferguson (Ferguson Merchandising LLC)

Board nominations must be received by May 1, 2019 to facilitate the review process. Nominated individuals who wish to be considered will receive a Board Nominee Profile Form to complete and return by May 15, 2020. If a Nomination was submitted and the nominee does not receive the Board Nominee Profile Form to complete, please contact AFCI at 312-673-5769 before the May 15, 2019 deadline.

The 2019 Nominating Committee will review nominations and submit a slate of candidates for the 2020 Board of Directors to the membership. The membership will be notified in advance of the Annual Business Meeting to submit their proxy ballot as outlined in the Association Bylaws.

Nominees will be contacted with an interview time scheduled for July ­­­­­18, 2019. Interviews will be conducted via Skype.

The Benefits of Using Sponsored Content as a Marketing Tool

Sponsored post by Stitchcraft Marketing

Smart business owners are always trying to gain leverage in their respective industries. The best way to do so is through intelligent marketing efforts. One of the best marketing tools a business can use is sponsored content. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of using sponsored content as a marketing tool and how to negotiate sponsored post fees.

What is Sponsored Content?

Before you can understand the benefits of sponsored content, you need to have a strong idea of what it is. Sponsored content looks like ordinary editorial content that you might read anywhere online, including social media pages.  The difference is that the intent of sponsored content is to go beyond simply entertaining the reader and places a particular product or brand in a positive light. When sponsored content is done well, it reads like any other piece of content you find on the outlet. Its purpose is more to tell a story about a brand rather than to push a product. We’ve recently worked with Staci Perry of Very Pink to create video tutorials for our clients Appalachian Baby Design and Zen Yarn Garden. Currently, Vicki Howell’s Ask Me Monday series is partially sponsored by Knitter’s Pride.

Sponsored Content is Less Invasive Than Traditional Ads

Advertising is virtually everywhere you look online. Many companies have large banners that span across the top of a page, in between articles or down columns that are impossible to ignore and can be incredibly distracting. There are also ads that constantly move across the screen as people scroll through a web page, which can be quite bothersome. On the other hand, sponsored content is more subtle. Instead of being impossible to avoid, they allow visitors to focus on the content they are trying to read and only open if clicked on.

Ad Rates are Currently Decreasing

Web surfers are getting increasingly better at tuning out the ads they do not want to view. An increasing number of people are no longer clicking on banner ads to get additional information. Further, people are turning on ad blockers at an increasing rate, so many traditional ads are never seen. So, many advertisers are no longer reaching their target audience. Since sponsored content allows advertisers to reach their target audience with high-quality information, it is less likely to get passed over and ignored like traditional advertising methods.

Long-Term Relationships can be Created

Business is all about creating strong relationships. Not only do you want to have a good relationship with your current and prospective customers, you also want the same with other organizations with which you do business. When you use sponsored content, you enter into a relationship with the whoever is creating the content. Over time this relationship becomes solidified and makes you both stronger.

Keep Your Program Simple

When you decide to sponsor content, your best course of action is to keep it simple, especially when you are first starting out. If you overextend yourself and have too many content creators, they can be difficult to manage and keep track of. So, keep it small and manageable and do your diligence in who you’re choosing to sponsor to get the best results.

Negotiating Sponsored Post Fees

Now that you know the benefits of using sponsored content as a marketing tool, you need to know how to negotiate what to pay for it. Here is some some helpful information negotiating a fee that is fair for everyone involved.

Factors to Take into Account

Negotiating a price takes more finesse than simply blurting out an arbitrary number. Some factors you should take into considerations when determining a fair price include:

  • The amount of traffic the content creator gets.
  • The length of time required to create the content.
  • The size of the content creator’s social reach.
  • The content creator’s domain authority.
  • Any extra value the content creator is adding.
  • The niche market the content creator appeals to.
  • The size of your brand.
  • The amount you can afford to pay.
  • What measurable result are you seeking from sponsoring content with this creator.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you should be able to determine the best price to pay to sponsor content.

Our Program

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you navigate the landscape of sponsored content. We maintain an in-house network of reviewers who are eager to try new products in exchange for their testimonials. Our reviewers publish their content on blogs, podcasts and across social media platforms. We also have experience negotiating sponsored product reviews with influencers and big names in your craft-specific industry. If you’re interested in getting your product out into the world for review, contact us today to get started!


Free your creativity with Brother. Just add imagination!

Sponsored post by Brother International Corporation

Brother has the products that will stimulate your crafting imagination in new and exciting ways.  Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned crafting expert, Brother has a range of user-friendly machines to help you make outstanding projects.

BRTHR-026066 SNC Creativation Social Post 3 500x500 2

The ScanNCut series is the world’s only home and hobby cutting machines with a built-in scanner.  It’s just about the only electronic cutting machine you can pull right out of the box and get right to work creating sophisticated and stunning projects.

Now with the ScanNCut DX, you can precisely cut paper, fabric, leather and more with ease thanks to Brother’s auto-blade sensor technology.  This incredible, time-saving feature automatically detects material thickness, letting you avoid trial and error, to cut precise built-in patterns as well as your own custom patterns.

When it comes to sewing and embroidery, Brother has a wealth of crafting options all sewn up for you.  Whether you’re into fashion design, home décor or Cosplay, an affordable combination sewing and embroidery machine, like the Brother SE600 can really set your imagination free.

The SE600 comes with 80 built-in embroidery designs but also lets you import your own embroidery designs. It also includes built-in fonts for personalization and monogramming, a real plus for crafting projects.

Looking for more ways to personalize? Expand your options from A to Z!  Add Brother P-touch to your crafting machine lineup. With P-touch you can embellish satin ribbons, decorative tapes, and so much more.

With Brother, it’s easy to turn creative visions into creative realities. Just add imagination! Visit the Brother booth #1909 at Creativation.

Setting Clear Intentions

Guest blog post by AFCI VIP Creator, Carol Foldvary-Anderson /

carol vip

Life is not a sprint to the finish line. Life is an ever-changing path, walking up hill, gliding down and meandering through the meadow of abundant flora and fauna. Make plans to enjoy all of the delights and sweetness of life’s experiences. You will get where you wish to be, when the time is right and you are ready! Enjoy the journey!

“Setting Clear Intentions” following though to having a particular project come to fruition is key in getting anything accomplished, in your arts business and in life. Having a plan of action, and also leaving those options open, if something that truly captures your heart, will get you where you wish to be faster. I have found when you set clear intentions you program your thinking and doing to accomplish the final result you are reaching for. You are actually attracting what needs to be in your life for you to feel happy and fulfilled.

When I find myself going though what many psychologists might call “Monkey Mind,” when your thoughts go in all directions and you think to much and rethink, you then find yourself going in circles, and getting nowhere. By living the act of setting your thoughts to clear intention, focusing on what the real heartfelt issue is, and keeping your thoughts, emotions and actions aligned to achieve your goals, you will find yourself spending less time in your mind.

Set clear intention by writing to-do lists, separating what is most important to what can wait to be done. You can start with accomplishing three important tasks per day towards your goal. Set your mind and your actions to accomplish these tasks and by the end of your week you will have achieved fifteen action steps towards your dream goal.

If life, gets in the way, like it always tends to do, and you feel you are being sidetracked, catch up the next day by taking on more then three tasks or block out your to-do lists in a week rather then one day at at time. Work with what ever plan fits into your lifestyle. Remember you are creating a life, as much as an arts business!

Relax and have fun in the process! Live in the moment, and know all will come your way in time.

All in all, I have found that when attending CREATIVATION I see it as setting the right and clear intention to further grow my business as a AFCI Designer/Blogger. Planning to attend Creativation helps me set and develop a to-do list based on what I have learned and the connections I have made in the past, and the connections I would like to make in the future.

There is nothing more motivating when you know where you wish to be in your career and business and find the right avenue to expose you to the right people and influences that can make that happen.  You will find me in Phoenix, AZ at CREATIVATION!

By the way, I have been a AFCI Member since January of 2007. If you would like to know some unknown facts about me take a look below. Being a member of AFCI has enhanced my career in so many ways, by giving me the confidence I needed to be where I am today! Thank you AFCI, you ROCK!


Phone: 775.721.5338

Carol Foldvary-Anderson (varyCarol) is a Creative Artist/Designer VIP Member of the (AFCI) Association for Creative Industries formally the Craft and Hobby Association, Arts Educator, and grant recipient on several occasions from her home state of Nevada. She has found that teaching, encouraging and inspiring others to live their joy is her passion. Carol has been working her art and business for over 30 years.  Is she successful in creating an art-filled life? Yes, she certainly is!
Little Known Facts About Me…!

1. Early in my career I worked with a novelty company in San Francisco, CA and illustrated 15 mugs and plates… which were sold as souvenirs for the city and the Bay area. That project gave me the authorization to join CHA as a Designer Member back in 2007, and I have not missed a year as a member since then.

2. I have had the wonderful opportunity to have illustrated several Adult Coloring Books produced and distributed by Dover Publishing of NY, before the big boom of Adult Coloring Books took place. I made the contact with Dover Publishing early in my career when previous CHA, now AFCI provided Designer Showcase tables. Currently I am working with Prime/FaveCrafts designing FREE Downloadable Adult Coloring eBooks.

3. I enjoy working with and promoting non-profit organizations that instill the values that I believe are important. I donate works, auction off art, and provide classes/workshops for fundraising purposes.

4. I began my art career entering contests, one contest granted me the opportunity to design, produce, and built several large works of art in the public art realm, at a local community college working with contract labor and managing the overall project. 3 pieces that I was commissioned to create sold for $1000’s of dollars.

5. I avidly support the Nevada State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts as I have applied for and successfully received several Grants funded by these organizations. I was invited to create an ornament for the White House during the George W. Bush Administration through my participation with the Nevada State Arts Council.

6. I was accepted to the Nevada State Artist’s & Community Roster! Which took me to the level of applying for Art Residencies in all kinds of places I would not have thought otherwise. Yosemite, remote Baker, Nevada, and other opportunities in Museums. I have also applied and received state and national funding for areas of business that I would have done anyway to build my business, and to have the life experience.

7. I am the inventor designer of an art technique I am promoting “Oil Pastel Smudge”. A journey which has given me access to be able to present this article and others to AFCI. At CREATIVATION 2018, I entered and was accepted to compete in “Innovation Center” with my Oil Pastel Smudge technique and met some potential clients to further the journey.

8. For over 10 years, earlier in my career, I was an active member of the Nevada Inventors Association, where actual business practices are shared. I’ve been very surprised more artists did not see the value in joining such a forward thinking group, as I see inventors are artist’s on a different, yet similar level.  It’s all about “The Business!” and how you wish to live your life, is what I believe!

Management Change for AFCI Headquarters

Note from Jim Thielen, Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors


On behalf of the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors, I wanted to share an important update with you.

The AFCI Board of Directors has decided to make a change in management and staffing for the Association.  After much discussion and a thorough review of strategic options, we have chosen to partner with SmithBucklin, an association management company that will assume the operational activities of the AFCI effective April 1, 2019.

SmithBucklin is a professional services company that manages well over 100 other associations.  They will bring to AFCI deep experience in supporting business trade associations, including some that complement and have synergies within our industry.

We would like to recognize our current staff team for all their contributions to the association and we are working with them individually on thoughtful transition plans.  We thank them for their work on behalf of the Association.

While the Board has decided to make a management change, throughout the transition, I assure you that we remain focused on hosting a successful Creativation event in January 2019.  Our current team will be working in tandem with new staff members from SmithBucklin and many of the new team members will be at Creativation.

Beyond Creativation, we are already mapping out timelines for a strategic planning process.  We are dedicated to maximizing the value of AFCI membership and will be working with our new team to further strengthen our member value proposition.  We will be seeking member feedback as a part of this process and there will be opportunities to get involved and be a part of shaping the future strategy for AFCI.

The AFCI Board of Directors has decided to make this change in order to benefit you as a valued member and ensure the long-term success of our Association. We look forward to seeing you at Creativation on January 17-21, 2019 and to all the exciting new developments ahead.

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact me directly at

Best regards,


Jim Thielen

Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors


The Exit Plan – How to Sell or Close Your Craft Business

by Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing

Perhaps you’re getting a little restless. You’ve built your business into a successful enterprise, and now you find yourself thinking about new challenges. Maybe you daydream about retirement. Whatever your circumstances, the time will come when you’re ready to sell or close your business.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of selling vs. closing down. We’ll discuss some of the steps involved in selling your business. And we’ll talk about what you should do now to make sure you’re prepared for a smooth transition when the time comes.

Selling vs. Closing

You’ve spent years building your business. You deserve to reap the benefits of all the work when you leave. In most cases, selling your business will bring a better financial return than simply shutting down. The price at which you sell is based on the expectation of future revenues, as well as the value of your assets. When you close, you’ll simply be disposing of the assets at a steep discount.

But, if your priority is moving on as quickly as possible, closing down is the way to go. Selling your business will likely take a minimum of 6 months, and might take more than a year. What if you don’t find a buyer? You could find yourself closing down the business a year or two later than you initially wanted to.

Preparing to Sell Your Business

Get your financial house in order

A prospective buyer is going to spend a lot of time examining your books. To maximize the value of your business, work with your accountant to make sure your financials are clean.

You’ll need to have your business tax returns for at least the last 3 years. If you’ve delayed filing your taxes, get it done before you put the business on the market.

Pay off as much business debt as you can. Your buyer will likely ask that you clear outstanding debt with the proceeds of the sale, so you might as well take care of this in advance.

Be sure the business assets are separate from your personal assets. If your car is owned by the business, transfer the title.

Get an independent assessment of your company’s value

There are lots of formulas for estimating the value of your company – 3 to 6 times annual cash flow and 2.5 times annual profit are commonly quoted. But every business is different, and those variables can make a big difference in the value of your business.

Consider retaining an experienced business broker to produce a valuation of your company. For a fee, the broker will analyze your financials, along with the internal and external factors affecting your business value. They will use this information to determine the price you can expect your business to fetch.

When Beth Casey sold her hand-dyed yarn company, Lorna’s Laces, she didn’t need a broker to handle the sale. She had already agreed to sell the business to a long-time employee, Amanda Jarvis. Casey had a broker perform a business valuation. The price Casey and Jarvis had tossed around was right in the middle of the range given to them by the broker. Casey feels the broker’s fee was money well spent. It was reassuring to have an unbiased and independent source confirm that the business was being sold for a fair price.

Assemble your team

Talk to your accountant and your attorney. If they do not have experience in business transfers, you may want to ask if they can recommend a specialist.

Do you need a business broker? According to, you should bring in a broker if:

  1. You need help finding potential buyers
  2. You don’t know what your business is worth
  3. Your business network isn’t very extensive
  4. You want to sell as quickly as you can

The broker’s fee will likely be about 10% of the selling price. In exchange, the broker will help you through every step of the process.

If your business is internet based, Quiet Light Brokerage is highly rated. For companies with revenues between $1 million and $50 million, BusinessExits is a popular broker. For smaller companies, is a great on-line option.

Clean up Your Marketing

One of the biggest assets of a modern business is the relationship with an existing audience. Any potential buyer is going to evaluate your website, your email list, and your social media activity. Will those customers and prospects stick with the business under new ownership?

If you are the public face of your company, begin to pull back a bit. Make sure your customers are familiar with your brand, not just your personality. Your social media following is not a valuable asset if it can’t be transferred seamlessly to the new owner of the company.

Identify Potential Buyers

In looking for a buyer, start close to home and work your way outward. Here are some possibilities to consider:

A family member: If you have children or other relatives already working in your company, are they interested in taking over the business?

An employee: Selling to a employee (or to a group of employees) can make for a remarkably smooth transition, since you won’t need to spend as much time bringing them up to speed on operations.

Your suppliers, distributors and customers: You may find that one of your suppliers or distributors would welcome the opportunity to bring more vertical integration to their business. Even if they don’t want to buy your company, they may know others who are interested. For retail businesses, do you have a customer who spends a lot of time in your shop? Ask if they are interested in buying the company!

Your competitors: Would your business represent a smart extension of product line or distribution network for one of your competitors?

Industry organizations: You’ve spent years developing relationships within the industry. Put that network to use. Every organization has a few members who seem to know everybody and everything. Arrange a conversation with that person and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in buying your company. Check the member benefits of the organizations to which you belong. Craft Industry Alliance has a classified section on their website where you can list your business for sale. Other organizations might have similar classified listings.

Of course, selling your business to a family member or somebody else close to you comes with a unique set of challenges. Any dysfunction in those relationships is likely to be magnified. Beth Casey offers this advice:

“Remember that at the end of they day, this is a business transaction. Whatever your relationship, make sure everyone walks away from the table feeling they got a fair deal. This isn’t a zero-sum game. Everybody can walk away a winner.”

Start Today

According The Balance Small Business, one of the biggest mistakes potential business sellers make is waiting too long and failing to plan ahead. It’s a lot like keeping house: if you spend a little time each day keeping things tidy, you won’t need to spend the whole day cleaning before company arrives.

Talk to your accountant about keeping your books as if you intend to sell the business tomorrow. Keep your eye out for potential successors among the people you work with every day. As much as you love your company, you never know when that perfect buyer will walk in the door with an offer you can’t refuse!

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you create and execute a marketing plan that eases the transition to a new business owner We can also act as a relationship broker for certain sales.  Contact Leanne at the agency to find out how we can help you build your business.

‘Tis the Season for December Trends

This Trends Report is brought to you by the AFCI Trends Committee

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Trends Committee is always on the lookout for creative trends to keep your business in the know about what’s popular on the Internet and with crafters, makers and DIYers. Here are the current trends we are seeing.

1. Lighted Christmas Trees

Submitted by Kathy Cano-Murillo,

This holiday season you’ll see these vintage style trees, reminiscent of the one Grandma used to have.  You can purchase them in retail outlets or better yet, make your own version at a paint your own pottery studio.   The motif is also used in illustrations, jewelry, wall art and more!


Mr. Christmas Ceramic Christmas Tree Figurine at Target

2. Fa la Llama

Submitted by Debra Quartermain,

The Llama icon trend continues with the fun “No Prob-llama” and “No Drama Llama” sayings on everything from pillows to signs. Images appear in holiday gift wrap, party decor and housewares. Of course the creative world is filled with adorable stuffies, ornaments and pillows. Expect to see many llamas wearing holiday attire this season!


Photo credit: Debra Quartermain,



Happy Llamakah Card from Paper Source

3. Pa Rum Pum Pom Pom

Submitted by Jennifer Priest, Smart Fun DIY

Pom pom crafts and felt ball crafts are everywhere this holiday season!  Pom pom garlands, trees and ornaments are showing up as holiday décor.  With multiple pom pom maker tools to choose from, crafters can make pom poms in any size to DIY their own pom pom holiday decor. Looking for a trendy gift?   Pom pom scarfs, pom pom edged blankets, pom pom wall hangings, and pom pom keychains are on point.


Pom Pom Christmas Tree found at Hobby Lobby


DIY Ice Cream Cone Ornaments by Jennifer Priest, Smart Fun DIY


  1. Premiums & care continue to rise 
  2. High prescription costs lead to denying treatment 
  3. High Deductibles limit our ability to pay for everyday health care costs


The Anger Index is a Consumer Reports summary of the problems facing every individual who is not insured or under-insured (meaning a high deductible plan)


Clearly there is a continuing concern.  In fact, over 60% of uninsured and under-insured people and 26% of those fully insured say they cannot afford everyday health care costs.

With the end of the individual mandate within the Affordable Care Act, consumers now have choice.  They are no longer penalized for having coverage that does not really protect them nor fit their health needs or their budget.

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) has created a program that addresses these burdens directly for members who have these same issues and are considering what really can work for them and their family.



  1.  Low premiums and no deductibles 
  2.  Low co pays 
  3. Covers 90% of everyday health costs including a Prescription Drug Plan

When to Look for Plans:
You can start looking at AFCI Plans on 12/3/18 for coverage to start on the 1st of the following month. There is no open-enrollment end date!

Where to Look for Plans
Sole proprietors visit:
Businesses with more than 3 employees email:

How to Ask Questions:
Email: to ask questions or request more information. We will respond within 1 business day.

Who can Sign-Up for Coverage:

  • AFCI Individual/Sole Proprietors & Families
  • AFCI Small Businesses (Groups greater than 3 employees can request an adoption agreement & employee enrollment forms) via the contact email.

Eclectic Products Launching TOP SECRET Product to make you come UNGLUED!

This is a sponsored post by Eclectic Products

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

We want to kick off the New Year with our most loyal and creative supporters, get inspired, and let you in on our TOP SECRET product launch. Our chemists have been working around the clock to produce something SO innovative and SO elusive — we may have to “unglue” your jaw from the show room floor!

And speaking of something new…… if you come see us at booth #1013, we will let you in on some TOP SECRET information…… It’s a new product that we are VERY excited about sharing that is making everyone come UNGLUED!  We can’t reveal too much. The new product is part of our E6000 family and is almost limitless in its uses.  IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PLUS! – You’ll find out what that means when you visit us at our booth!


We are hosting our resident “Glue Guy” and expert, Mark Montano. Mark, designer extraordinaire, prolific author, and TV host, is determined to make crafting HIP! Come visit our booth and create a project with Mark using the newest product from his favorite adhesive brand – E6000!

One of the things we enjoy most at Creativation is meeting folks face to face and demonstrating what our products can do. This year we will have Unicorn SPiT inventor, Michelle Nicole, at your disposal to ask the “need to know” questions! Turn ordinary objects into holographic-like MASTERPIECES. We will be creating magic with Unicorn SPiT SPARKLiNG, and sharing ideas that will get your creative wheels rolling.  You will also have the ability to bring a little “Sparkle” back home with this year’s make-n-take project. Unicorn SPiT is ideal for creating beautiful jewelry, amazing craft furniture and tables, beautifying clocks, picture frames, embedding keepsakes, making bed trays, jewelry boxes, plaques & much more!

We are eager to see everyone at Creativation in Phoenix in January! Visit Eclectic Products at booth #1013 and let’s paint the town!  We promise to make you SPARKLE and leave a lasting impression that will STICK with you forever!

Announcing the New AFCI Board Officers

The AFCI Board of Directors recently elected three new people to serve as officers.  We had a chance to sit down with each of them about their newly elected positions and what they are looking forward to most in their new roles.


Jim Thielen – Chairman

AFCI:  Jim, congratulations on being elected as Chairman.  You’ve been in the creative industry for sixteen years and have dedicated your time to serve as a member of the Board.  In this new role as Chairman, what are you hoping to achieve?

Jim:  As a member of the Executive Committee, I am committed to the vision of creating a healthy, vibrant and innovative community that enriches people’s lives through creative activities.  I will work with the entire Board to ensure we are delivering high value services in support of our members, so together we can make the vision a reality.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

Jim:  There are so many exciting and new opportunities in the creative industry.  The industry is rapidly changing and evolving to include much more than arts and crafts.  When you join the Association, you are immediately connected to a global community that you can engage with to exchange ideas.  You are also exposed to new industry opportunities that develop and may potentially grow your business.

AFCI:  As you already stated, networking is one of the biggest reasons for joining AFCI.  The Association produces events for the members so that they can connect with each other.  What is one of your favorite memories from an AFCI event?

Jim:  My favorite AFCI event was Creativation 2018.  The educational seminars and workshops were high quality and interactive, allowing people to share and learn from each other.  The topics were new and relevant so people that attended discovered new ideas that had the potential to spur the growth of their businesses.

Joe McClain – Vice Chairman

AFCI:  Joe, you are fairly new to the creative industry.  What will be your primary focus serving as a Board officer.

Joe:  First, I’d like to say just how honored I am to be elected to represent our membership as an officer.  I’ve been in the industry for just over three years since taking over as CEO for Help Heal Veterans, a nonprofit that manufactures and distributes therapeutic arts and crafts free of charge to veterans and active duty military undergoing health care.  As someone who comes from a career of service, and currently leads a non-profit whose sole mission is one of service, it should come as no surprise that I’ll be focused on how I can best serve our membership.  In my mind, that means working with some of the great industry leaders on our Board to help create and nurture an environment where our very diverse membership can succeed.  There’s a lot of change happening right now in our industry.   As we all know, change can be a challenging time for any industry, especially if we’re slow to adapt.  In my mind, it’s also a time of great opportunity.  As a new officer, I hope to help guide our Association to shape a future that best enables member success.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

Joe:  Joining an association and interaction with your industry peers are key factors in keeping your finger on the pulse of trends, the business environment and innovation. Being able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and leveraging the resources that only an association provides will help your business succeed.   There’s also the intangible benefit that creatives and innovators understand:  that creativity is often sparked by interaction with like minded individuals who share your passion. You’d be hard pressed to find another forum like AFCI to generate that spark.

AFCI:  What value have you gained by attending an AFCI event?

Joe:  At a recent event, I was talking to a group of Designers over a cocktail and discovered that the healing power of the creative process is something that applies across all demographics, not just the veterans I serve.  From that discussion and listening to their ideas on what may appeal to the diverse demographic I serve, we at Heal Vets expanded the product offerings for veterans by using materials that were different for us.  Our change has proven popular with clinicians, therapists and the vets they treat.  The confidence to take that leap came from the interaction and follow-up discussions made at an AFCI event.

Bradley Beck – Secretary

AFCI:  Brad, we’d love to hear more about your industry background.

Brad:  I have been in the creative industry for 35 years.  I started out as a Manufacturer Representative for my Dad’s company, covering the West Coast back in the Tall Mouse, Moskatel’s, H&H Craft & Floral Supply days.  I have been at DESIGN MASTER color tool, inc, the COLOR design resource, for the last 20 years.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone that was considering joining the Association?

Brad:  Join us and get involved. The benefits you gain from joining an organization like AFCI is directly proportional to how involved you get.  You can become an active member by exhibiting or attending Creativation, volunteering for a committee assignment, or networking at one of the many social events throughout the year.  Your investment in time will be richly rewarded.

AFCI:  You must have so many memories tied to our industry.  What is one of your more recent memories?

Brad:  Yes, there are so many.  More recently, I would say the time spent listening and learning from my fellow Board members.  Their expertise, knowledge and understanding of the industry makes me more informed and hopefully a better Board member.


Meet the AFCI Board of Directors at the Annual Business Meeting taking place during Creativation on Monday, January 21 starting at 7:30am.  Learn about your Association’s future plans, share your feedback and discover ways you can help impact the industry.  Register here.

Creating Effective Live Crafting Video Demos to Build Your Brand

This is sponsored content by Aaron Roth, VP Sales and Marketing,  Arkon Mounts

Shown here, Janet Wakeland of demonstrates how crafters can use Arkon’s phone and tablet stands for demonstrations and tutorials.

Visit Arkon Mounts at Booth #627 at Creativation 2019 and attend the tutorial led by Arkon VP Aaron Roth on Sunday, January 20 from 3-4pm titled, “Crafting Videos Made Better with Arkon’s Remarkable Creators Phone and Tablet Stand Bundle.” Learn the importance of creating high-quality crafting videos.


If you have a Facebook or Instagram page, you’ve probably seen other crafters live streaming as they create their next amazing masterpiece. Going live to a global audience may be easy for some, but for many others, the mere thought of public speaking can be truly debilitating. Fear of speaking is the most common phobia, ranking even higher than the fear of death. Embracing the use of live video will help you overcome these fears and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your business.

LIVE STREAM ESSENTIALS (Tools Required to Go Live)

If you own a business, odds are that you also have a mobile phone. Your mobile phone is arguably the single most important tool for your business. Not only does it serve as the lifeline between you and your existing customers, it can also be used to create compelling content to attract new customers. Some also prefer the use of a tablet computer (iPad) due to the larger screen size, making it easier to see comments. Phones and tablets are basic essentials for every live streamer.

The three best platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, though their respective features may be slightly different depending on whether you’re an iPhone or Android user. Be sure that you regularly update your apps to ensure that you have access to the latest features.

IMPORTANCE OF A STABLE BROADCAST | Mounts, Holders, Stands, & Tripods

While not required to go live, having your phone or tablet secured in a quality holder is strongly recommended as it will greatly improve the quality (stability) of your broadcast and the viewer experience. Having your device mounted also means that your hands are free to craft or demonstrate during the live video. These types of broadcasts are some of the most popular!

Arkon Mounts offers a full assortment of mounts, holders, stands, and tripods for live streaming. Here are the mounting solutions recommended for your video or live stream demonstrations.

The Remarkable Creators Video Phone Stand Bundle (Model RCBTABLED) This popular bundle combines the best-selling Arkon Pro Stand, which allows crafters to shoot professional overhead views of their demonstration. It also includes a Tablet Clamp Mount, which attaches to the shaft/pole portion of the Pro Stand and is used to log in to live video apps on a secondary device like an iPad to see comments or to see the view of the phone that’s positioned overhead. Arkon’s LED Ring Light is a fan favorite in the crafting communities, particularly with those who create live video demonstrations. It clips onto the top of your phone, doesn’t block the camera, and features a USB-chargeable battery. Battery life is usually about 45 minutes per full charge.


The Remarkable Creators Clamp Phone or Camera Stand with Ring Light (Model CLAMPRCB) This new bundle is essentially the clamp version of the Remarkable Creators Phone and Video Stand Bundle and features three essential video products: Arkon’s Pro Stand Clamp Mount for Live Video (Model CLAMPRV29), Tablet Clamp Mount Add-On (Model TAB131), and Clip-On LED Ring Light (Model SPLEDRING). A camera adapter is also included for use with pico projectors or MEVO cameras. The clamp is less prone to tipping and can be secured to a counter, table, podium, desk, or other clampable surface up to 2.25 inches wide.


ARKON Live Streaming Essentials Bundle

Arkon also offers the Live Streaming Essentials Bundle, which features a Phone Tripod with the LED Ring Light and Ultrasonic Remote. The tripod phone mount fits all smartphones up to 4” wide and allows the phone to be positioned in either landscape or portrait orientation. The ultrasonic remote control is designed to work with both iPhone and Android phones and is ideal for using with the tripod to easily take photos or videos from up to 30 feet away. Includes a timer, zoom capabilities, flash on/off, and automatic focus.




Aaron Roth is the inspirational Vice President of Sales and Marketing and co-owner at Arkon Mounts, the most recognized and respected brand in the live streaming video category. In addition to being a regular speaker at live streaming and social media events, you’ll also find Aaron broadcasting daily on Instagram and Facebook from the Arkon Live Lounge, an office studio at the Arkon headquarters in Arcadia, California. Arkon has an extensive assortment of mounts, holders, stands, and tripods to support your live streaming video broadcasts.


  1. Join, and go live from Facebook Groups related to your business
  2. Create “shareable” content
  3. Use Arkon Mounts to hold your phone or tablet steady
  4. Clean phone or tablet camera lens before going live
  5. Engage with your audience; Say hello to people as they join your broadcast
  6. Always have your branding in view of the camera (something with your logo on it)
  7. Use relevant hashtags on ALL Instagram and Facebook posts to increase your reach (e.g. #crafting, #crafts, etc.)
  8. Utilize giveaways of your product to create excitement around your brand
  9. When an App sends out an update, immediately download and go live to see if there are new features.  Facebook and Instagram Live continue to improve on a regular basis
  10. Have fun, and build great friendships!


Arkon Mounts supplies a wide range of high-quality tablet and phone mounts, tripods, and other accessories designed to enhance the live streaming experience. Arkon celebrates its 30th year in business in 2018.

  • 600+ mounts, holders, stands, and tripods for phones, cameras, tablets

instagram_app_large_may2016_200 fb_icon_325x325twitter-iconyoutube

2-Year Warranty on ALL Arkon Mounts

November Trends Report: 3 Creative Trends We’re Seeing

This Trends Report is brought to you by the AFCI Trends Committee.

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Trends Committee is always on the lookout for creative trends to keep your business in the know about what’s popular on the Internet and with crafters, makers and DIYers. Here are the current trends we are seeing.

All of the trends in this report were submitted by Jennifer Priest, Smart Fun DIY


Weaving and bohemian textures are still here in force.  Weaving projects with yarn and textiles are being used as home décor and for statement fashion pieces, like DIY totes and DIY pillows.


DIY Faux Woven Pillow by Kailo Chic


Keep an eye out for oversized pom poms and tassels.  These embellishments are being used in multiple ways in craft projects and DIY décor.


Giant Pom Pom Throw by Vintage Revivals


Go extremely tiny or extra large – from miniature piñata earrings to giant wall hangings, either way you will be on trend.

pinata earrings

Moon & Star Pinata Earrings by Meri Meri


Embroidered Cleo Wall Hanging by Anthropologie

Teaching Your Passion™ 4-week course

By Marjie Kemper

As a long-time Designer Member of AFCI, I appreciate the value of teaching and taking classes. I’ve taught in-person classes for many years at many different venues, from small mom & pop shops, to a major retail chain, to AFCI’s annual conference  when it was the Craft & Hobby Association MegaShow.  I’ve also taught online for and I’ve self-hosted my own online courses.  Through a combination of in-person classes and the wonder of the internet, I’ve been honored to teach over 7,000 students over the last six years.

Over the years, many of my students and peers have asked how I was able to establish myself as a teacher in all of these venues.  This often recurring question caught my attention and prompted me to create an intensive 4-week course where I teach people how to teach their passions, whatever they may be.

What is Teaching Your Passion™?

Teaching Your Passion™ is a 4-week online course that is chock full of everything you need to learn to teach classes live and online.  I take you through all the steps necessary to determine what to teach and where to teach it. We cover finding and evaluating teaching opportunities, pitching your ideas to stores and event organizers, getting hired and getting paid, dealing with travel and transportation issues, classroom management and logistics, and much, much more.

AFCI Blog 1_3 Teaching-Your-Passion™-registration-opens-October-29-last-time-for-2018

What’s in the course?

This course consists of 15-modules jam packed with everything I wish I’d known when I started teaching nationwide and online six years ago.  I share my exact systems, strategies, and scripts. This isn’t fluff… it’s tried and true.  It’s exactly what I’ve done to land teaching gigs in small shops and major retail stores, at retreats and conventions, and online.

How about videos and tech?

I teach technical things like how to make videos, how to create graphics, and how to use social media to promote your classes and events. I’ve included content calendars, planning strategies, and lots of checklists.  I’ve also included loads of videos and worksheets as well as resources showing what systems and products I use on my courses.

What about live interaction?

You’ll enjoy a private Facebook group for communication, strategizing, and networking.  I will personally be active in the group every day for the whole four five weeks, and I hope you will, too!  You can access the course on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.  You don’t need to sign on at any specific time…. work at your own pace!  Since I am checking in every day, I can answer your questions regardless of the time you post them.

AFCI Blog 2_3 Sneak peek at sample of course materials - Teaching Your Passion™ with Marjie Kemper

When does the course start?

Teaching Your Passion™ starts on Monday, November 5.  It’s normally a 4-week course but this time I am spreading it out over 5 weeks, so that those who live in the USA can have a week off during Thanksgiving Week.


Here’s what some of my prior TYP students say about the course:

“Taking this class is a must if you plan on teaching your craft. Marjie gives you the best instructions. She really helps you put everything into perspective. Instructional materials are awesome! This class went above and beyond my expectations.”  [Angela Huggins ~ New Jersey]

“I have successfully and with less stress taught my first 3-hour live class, all thanks to Marjie Kemper’s Teaching Your Passion™ course!  Marjie has thought of everything in this very extensive and thorough class. She’s broken everything down to bite-size nuggets of knowledge so you never feel overwhelmed.”  [Carole Monahan ~ Connecticut]

“Marjie’s manner is upbeat, encouraging, supportive, and inclusive.  I benefited from her vast experience. The interaction with Marjie and other students allowed us to share what had worked for us and what we needed help with.  And Marjie was able to answer our specific questions and share ideas related to our fields of interest, which will, I am sure, make our teaching better. She made new techniques seem easy, something very valuable to me.”  [Marilee McKelvey ~ Massachusetts]

“Marjie simplified social media and how to use all the various platforms easily.  This class gave me the tools I need to grow my art instruction business quickly and easily.”  [Karlene Schoonover ~ Texas]

“Marjie has inspired me to go forward with teaching. I have not been so motivated in several years!  This class was full of information, and process. I learned what I need and what can be shelved. The class was incredible and for once I feel empowered.  I wish I could bring Marjie home to live in my studio.”  [Mary Ellen Maney ~ Massachusetts]

What is the AFCI Member Benefit?

AFCI members save $50 using code AFCI at checkout.

How Do I Sign Up?

Registration is now open and closes when the course begins on Monday, November 5.  Sign up here.  Be sure to use the special AFCI member benefit code for $50 savings!



Marjie welcomes your questions at and you can learn more at Marjie Kemper Designs.

Create an Effective B2B Drip Marketing Campaign

by Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing


A drip marketing campaign can be an effective tool to turn prospects into customers. But what is drip marketing? How can it best be deployed by manufacturers, wholesalers and business service providers?

In this article, we’ll explain the process and value of drip marketing, show you an example of a drip marketing campaign, and talk about how to use this tool as part of your overall B2B marketing plan.

What is Drip Marketing?

A drip marketing campaign is a series of strategically timed emails that are delivered to your customers and/or prospects to guide them down the road toward further engagement with your brand. Defined triggers, or specific responses, will automatically generate next steps that are relevant to the prospective customer.

You can think of a drip marketing campaign as a series of breadcrumbs leading your prospect down the path from introduction to providing value to establishing credibility to making the sale.

Why is Drip Marketing Effective?

According to a 2014 study by marketing automation provider Yesware, 70% of email marketing campaigns end after the first email. If your B2B marketing ends with a single email, you’re missing a lot of opportunities. The same study showed even if you don’t receive a reply to your first email, you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to the second one. Still no response? Keep sending.  There is still a 25% chance you’ll hear back from the recipient sooner or later.

Drip marketing helps keep you top-of-mind with your prospects. They may not be ready to buy when they receive your first, second or fifth email, but each communication builds familiarity and credibility.  When they are ready make a move, you’ll be their first call.

Drip Marketing Example

Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a large trade show like AFCI’s Creativation, or The National Needlearts Summer Show. You’d like to invite existing customers and prospects to set appointments to meet with you in your booth. You’ve obtained the email addresses of registered buyers from the show’s sponsoring organization.

Your first email would be sent about 2 weeks before the show and could look something like this:

Subject: Looking forward to meeting you at Creativation

Hello (name):

We’re putting the finishing touches on our booth for the upcoming Creativation show, and can’t wait to show you what’s new for 2019.

Can we set up an appointment to meet at the show? I want to be sure to give you my full attention when you visit us in Booth #(XXX). Please reply with a couple of times that work well for you and let’s get this on our calendars.

Looking forward to sitting down with you.


Note that this email includes a Call To Action – “reply with times that work.” We’ve told the prospect exactly what we’d like them to do.

If the prospect replies as requested, you’ll send an immediate response confirming an appointment time. You’ll then schedule a reminder email to be sent 2 days before the show.

If you don’t get a reply to your first email, your second email would be sent 3 or 4 days later, and would read like this:

Subject: Creativation Appointment slots still available

Hello (name):

We’re expecting Creativation to be our busiest show yet, and our appointment times are filling quickly. We’re thrilled that so many of our customers are excited to see our 2019 collection!

To help you prepare for the show, here is a link to our 2019 Craft and Color Trends Forecast. I hope you find it useful as you put together your buying plan.

I’d love to walk you through our new line of (whatever) and show you how it works with the trends we’ll be seeing next year. Can I set aside an appointment slot for you? I’m open between 9:00 and 10:00 Saturday morning, or between 2:00 and 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Let me know what time is good for you.

Looking forward to seeing you in Phoenix!


Note that this email raises the stakes a bit by employing FOMO (fear of missing out). We’ve implied that the prospect’s competitors are scooping up all the appointment times. They need to act quickly to reserve their spot.

We’ve also encouraged the prospect to see us as an authoritative source on what’s going to be hot next year, by linking to a trend report. Better yet, since the trend report lives on our website (maybe a blog post?), clicking the link brings the prospect into our environment.

Once again, a reply from the prospect will generate an immediate response confirming an appointment time, with a follow-up reminder 2 days before the show.

Still no reply? Send a third email about a week before the start of the show:

Subject: See you at Creativation!

Hello (name):

We’re looking forward to meeting you at Creativation next week. Be sure to come see us in Booth # (XXX). Our entire team is excited to show off the new products we’ve developed for you and your customers.

We’ve still got a couple of appointment spots open for Monday morning.  Please give me a call at (XXX-XXX-XXXX) immediately if you’re available. I’d love the chance to show you how our new (whatever) can fit into your assortment.

We’re bringing a limited number of sample packs you can take home to try our newest products at your convenience. Show this email to any member of our staff in Booth #(XXX) to claim yours.

See you in Phoenix!  Don’t forget the sunscreen…


Our focus has shifted from making an appointment to getting the prospect to visit the booth, while still leaving the appointment door open. Note that we’ve included the booth number twice. We’ve also included 2 CTA’s in this email: call if you’d like to make an appointment, and bring in the email to claim a sample pack.

Of course, you’re going to collect business cards at the show, and you’ll divide them into current customers and prospects. You’ll follow up on these leads with a new drip marketing campaign!

Making Drip Marketing Work for You

There are 5 basic steps to implementing a drip marketing campaign.


We’ll look closer at each step.

Segment Your List

Drip marketing is not a one-size-fits all solution. The more personalized and specific your emails, the more effective they will be.

At the very least, segment current customers from prospects. Your messages to current customers will focus on retention, service and upselling. Your messages to prospects are more introductory and educational.

Consider segmenting your list by the source of the lead.  Did you meet them at a trade show? Did they fill out the “contact us” form on your website? Did they respond to a lead generator offer? Each of these circumstances merits a different drip marketing path. See our blog post on targeting and segmenting for more information about segmenting your list.

Define the Path

For each segment, map the path your drip marketing campaign will follow. Your map for prospects who downloaded a lead generator might look like this:

Sequence Subject Purpose
Email 1 Thank you and welcome This is the handshake. You’re acknowledging the prospect and beginning to make friends.
Email 2 Introduction to company Let the prospect begin to get to know your company and what you do
Email 3 Link to relevant content – a blog post or how-to video Begin to provide value and establish credibility
Email 4 Link to a list of current best sellers – e.g, “20 Top Selling Colors for Fall 2018” Continue providing value while more directly bringing your product or service into the conversation
Email 5 Link to a great cornerstone content piece Continue providing value and establishing credibility
Email 6 Specific product or service descriptions, introductory offer, free shipping on first order Move towards closing the sale, perhaps add some enticements to buy.

How quickly will you move through this sequence? Will you send an email every 3 days? Once a week?

At each step in the sequence, define what happens if the customer makes a purchase as a result of that step. Does the lead move into another segment, perhaps a first-time customer follow-up campaign?

Employ Automation

Effective drip marketing is only sustainable through the use of the auto-responder tools included in your email platform. Work with your email provider to be sure you understand how to set up the triggers for automatically generated emails. All the popular platforms have this capability, and they all work a little differently. See how  Mailchimp’s automation works here. For Constant Contact, click here.

Write the Emails

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind as you write the emails that make up your campaign:

  • Keep it casual and friendly. You may be engaged in B2B marketing, but there is still a person reading your email and making the buying decision. Don’t be too formal or too corporate.
  • Keep it short. Ideally, your reader won’t need to scroll down to see the meat of your message.
  • Always extend a hand. Every email should invite the reader to get in touch if they have questions or if you can be helpful. Be sure to include the contact information for your sales or customer service staff.
  • Always include a Call To Action. Well designed click-through buttons and other links will help you see where you are connecting with your prospects.

Evaluate the Results

Set aside time on a regular basis to analyze the results of your drip marketing campaign. Which emails have generated the most response? Which links are drawing the most clicks? How many prospects have been converted by a particular campaign?

See what lessons you can learn, and how they can be applied to future campaigns. Your drip marketing campaign will always be a work in process, evolving to meet the changing needs of your customers and your business.

An effective drip marketing program takes some thought and work to plan and implement, but it can produce much better results than a one-size-fits-all email campaign. You’ll find more information on auto-responders and drip marketing as part of Stitchcraft Marketing’s online course, Magic Wand for Social Media. To find out how we can help you make drip marketing part of a comprehensive marketing plan, contact

October Trends Report: 2 Creative Trends We’re Seeing

This Trends Report is brought to you by the AFCI Trends Committee.

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Trends Committee is always on the lookout for creative trends to keep your business in the know about what’s popular on the Internet and with crafters, makers and DIYers. Here are two creative trends we’re seeing right now.

1. Sprinkles!

Submitted by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Crafty Chica


MexiSprinkles by Candy Ramirez

Sprinkles have gone above and beyond the normal rainbow pebbles. New sprinkle brands are popping up and feature custom mixes for every personality. From Friday the 13th to Hocus Pocus, you can see many of them for Halloween. Regular favorites include mermaid tails, cacti, pinatas and many others. And people are using them on everything from cakes and doughnuts to ice cream and chocolate-dipped pretzels.


MexiSprinkles by Candy Ramirez

2. Instagram Challenges

Submitted by Jennifer Priest, Smart Fun DIY


Walnut Hollow Instagram Challenge

Collaborative social media based challenges are everywhere on Instagram. Challenges include daily prompts to get your creativity started. Most challenges focus on a theme and occur every day for one month. You can find challenge through their hashtags and get attention from other participants by hashtagging your posts for the challenge. People are looking for community, inspiration, and connection and get it by sharing their projects in these online challenges, like AFCI member Walnut Hollow’s #BurntOctober wood burning challenge.

Attendee Spotlight: Alison Bevis

AFCI Member, Alison Bevis owns The Crafty Chain in Brisbane, the capital of and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland.

AFCI Members group picture

AFCI Members (left to right): Anita Takemoto, Cheryl Stapleton, Alison Bevis, Brooke Snyder, Cindy deRosier

Earlier this year, Alison completed the post-Creativation survey that was sent to all attendees. She shared that she would prefer other locations than Phoenix for the trade event. (It’s a long trip from Australia!) And, she wasn’t the only person who felt this way. So, in conjunction with the City of Phoenix, AFCI invited Alison and four other attendees who had a similar opinion to revisit Phoenix and explore the culture and things to do.

We spoke with Alison after the trip to learn what she discovered and if her opinion of the location changed.

What are some of the places and things you discovered that Creativation attendees should know about?
“The Downtown Phoenix Ambassador Program is really unique. We have community volunteers in some country shires in Australia, but to have people who will walk you back to your hotel at night or help you carry bags to your car…well, that is just the best service!!”

What was your favorite Phoenix business or place you visited and why?
“I really enjoyed visiting Porter Barn Wood; what a cool forward-thinking young bloke – he will do well in this world!! The (Hazel & Violet) printing shop was a highlight too! It would be a nice workshop with some friends while in town.”

The favorite Phoenix restaurant you tried?
“My goodness…we didn’t have a dodgy meal anywhere!!”

Why are you looking forward to attending Creativation?
“Besides catching up with all my NEW friends!! It is the best place to see new product from the wholesalers, manufacturers and to place orders (before many other businesses) and see the demos with these products to take this knowledge back to my store.”

Register for Creativation

Creativation Logo

Join thousands of creative businesses for Creativation, January 17-21, 2019 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Education will start on January 17; the trade show will open January 19-21. Register for your badge, classes and events today at

Thinking about extending your stay to explore Phoenix? We’ve partnered with the City of Phoenix to provide you with resources to help you plan your trip. Click here to explore trip ideas, see things to do nearby the Phoenix Convention Center, and find free virtual travel guides.

Need a hotel? We’ve made it easy for you to book hotels near the event in Phoenix through our new hotel booking partner, Hotels for Hope. Hotels for Hope’s 600,000+ hotel partners allows us to expand the number of hotels at great rates available for Creativation, which gives your company more choices of where to stay! Plus, for every Creativation hotel room night booked through Hotels for Hope, $2 will be donated to the Kids In Need Foundation, AFCI’s Charity of Choice. Book your hotel now!

Penny Black: Exceptional Designs For Every Style

This is sponsored content by Penny Black.

PB Blog Post Graphic

With their NEWEST collection of stamps and dies, Penny Black will surely inspire you with exceptional designs for every style.

Penny Black’s brushstroke stamps are always a fan favorite. This unique style of stamp will give your cards the look of hand painted artwork! Additionally, this new collection will have you stamping breathtaking winter scenes, combining the charming line art with your favorite coloring media, and smiling big as you stamp critters and snowman friends. This new collection also includes a wide array of brand new die cuts perfect for all of your projects.

Not only is Penny Black a leader in developing unique stamp and die cut designs, but their BLOG, FACEBOOK PAGE, INSTAGRAM, and YOUTUBE CHANNEL are full of ideas and tutorials. Sign up to be a PENNY BLACK CLUB MEMBER (it’s free!) for inspiration and news delivered directly to your inbox. And be sure to head over to Penny Black’s WEBSITE and ONLINE STORE to see all of these new designs.

A Year of Creativity & Community Giveaway

AS A CREATIVE BUSINESS OWNER, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the steps required to be successful. How do you obtain wholesale partnerships? Where can you buy your supplies in bulk? How can you better your craft? How can you run this one-person show all by yourself? What systems can you put in place to be more efficient and productive? Is there a way to outsource the parts of your work that make your head explode?

At the Association For Creative Industries, we strive to deliver innovative high value services as we support our Members who provide products and services to educate, entertain, and inspire creative consumers.

We have partnered with our friends at Dear Handmade Life to offer you an epic giveaway! This giveaway is meant to inspire and motivate you as well as give you the tools to help you take your creative business to the next level.




I hope you’re sitting down – this is a GOOD ONE. One winner – and their friend – will win a FREE TICKET to Dear Handmade Life’s Craftcation Conference AND a 12 month membership to AFCI!


Listen, you’re slammed. We get it. So we’ve made this as easy as possible. Just click over to **THIS** post on our Instagram and tag your friend in the comments. That’s it! You’re done!


You’re welcome to tag multiple friends, but please – ONE TAG PER COMMENT. You must be a creative industry business to enter. Enter anytime between Tuesday, September 18, 2018 and Midnight PT on September 25, 2018. Winners will be announced by October 2, 2018 via Instagram direct message. You will have 48 hours to claim your prize and provide your email address or we will select a new set of winners.


The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) is the premier trade association for the global creative arts products industries. AFCI strives to deliver innovative high value services as we support our Members who provide products and services to educate, entertain, and inspire creative consumers. Our Members include the manufacturers, retailers, distributors, designers, educators, digital content providers, professional makers and DIYers, and other creative professionals that comprise the $36 billion+ creative arts industries in the United States alone. For more information about AFCI, membership, or its annual Creativation trade event, visit


Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference, is an annual four-day conference held in the artsy seaside town of Ventura in Southern California. The nationally-known conference features industry experts leading attendees in small business smarts and creative craft workshops as well as social gatherings to connect and foster community through activities and inspiration. You’ll find that you not only will make new friends, but you’ll reconnect with yourself too.

Watch: Lawn Fawn Interactive Die Set Video

This is sponsored content by Lawn Fawn.

In this video, Lawn Fawn owner Kelly Marie Alvarez introduces a super fun, new interactive die set, Double Slider Surprise! She will show you how to assemble this die set plus, she will make 3 cards showing the different ways to use this set!

All products used in this video, plus all NEW Fall & Winter goodies are now available at Visit us for more ideas, information, and inspiration!

About Lawn Fawn

Lawn Fawn is a small company from Southern California that specializes in crafting products (clear stamps, dies, paper & more) that are fun and lively. Lawn Fawn was started in 2010 when Kelly Marie combined forces with her husband Mike and friend Erica with a mission in mind – to bring smiles into the lives of crafters! Click here to learn more about Lawn Fawn.

Let’s Hang, The Ultimate Pitch Winner: Where Are They Now?

Who remembers Let’s Hang? Armando and Alfredo Ulloa, the brother duo from Texas, pitched their innovative wall hanging tool during the first-ever The Ultimate Pitch contest at Creativation in 2017. Thanks to the program, Let’s Hang is now available at all Michaels stores in the United States, on, and on We recently spoke to the inventors to learn more about their journey, including what’s next for Let’s Hang! Read on for their story and to find out how you could be the next The Ultimate Pitch $10,000 winner!

“Since winning The Ultimate Pitch contest in 2017, my brother, Alfredo and I, have been on quite the ride to making our dreams a reality with Let’s Hang. We can say without a doubt, had it not been for us entering the Innovations Center at Creativation, we would not be where we are today. Where is that you ask? Currently, Let’s Hang is now being sold at all United States located Michaels stores,,, and we are in contract negotiations with QVC to appear on their network programming.

The Let's Hang Pitch

Armando and Alfredo Ulloa pitching Let’s Hang at The Ultimate Pitch at Creativation 2017

This all came to fruition as a result of submitting our invention and being selected as one of the finalists to go to the trade show and pitch our invention for a chance to win $10,000. What was more valuable than winning that big chunk of change, was the ability to show industry experts from across the world, what the customer value proposition was for Let’s Hang. We were fortunate enough to meet the Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing for Michaels, who loved the idea and just knew it had to be in Michaels stores.


Let’s Hang, the all-in-one hanging tool, allows you to hang your artwork and frames perfectly in just 60 seconds.

After signing a license and royalty contract with a subsidiary of Michaels, we began working with design engineers to create a reproducible Let’s Hang tool that was both cost effective and did not compromise customer usability. What was created is a beautiful, sleek, modern design that is like no tool currently out in the market. The fact that a first-time user can hang a frame in less than 60 seconds is a testament to the updated design quality in keeping with the integrity of the purpose for Let’s Hang.

Armando and Alfredo Ulloa

Armando and Alfredo Ulloa right after they won The Ultimate Pitch at Creativation 2017

Bottom line, what we have tried to say in a sort of long drawn way is, if you have the opportunity to submit your invention for The Ultimate Pitch…DO IT! The amount of exposure and opportunity to meet with industry experts will be well worth the time and money spent traveling to the event in Phoenix. Even if you do not win the competition, we have kept in touch with other contestants, and some of them were able to turn their product into real world sales by networking with retailers interested in their products. So, moral of the story? You won’t know what you have unless you put it out there! So hurry up and submit your invention and make your dreams come true, with a little help from Creativiation, because after all, it takes a village!”

Apply to the Innovations Center – Deadline October 31, 2018

You could be the next $10,000 The Ultimate Pitch winner!  If you have a brand new product or idea perfect for the creative industry, submit your idea to the Innovations Center. You could be selected to exhibit at the Innovations Center at Creativation 2019 and pitch your product at The Ultimate Pitch competition on Sunday, January 20, 2019.  The deadline is October 31, 2018. Click here to submit your innovation now!

Free Project! Experience the Magic of Artesprix Permanent Thermal Transfer Markers at In the MKNG

This is a sponsored blog post by Esprix Impressions

Do you love all things colorful, creative, and magical? Come experience the magic of Artesprix Permanent Thermal Transfer Markers with our Artesprix Team and our special guest Ken Hess, of Ken’s Creations at Booth S-04 at In the MKNG™. We will be hosting a ‘Create and Take’ event where attendees can create their own personalized item to take home.

Not only can you use Artesprix Markers with plain copy paper to create your own unique designs, but our markers work wonderful with a lot of craft items. And now anyone can add a touch of sparkle and shine to their personalized creations for an out of this world look by sublimating on Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl!

In this blog post, we’ll show how easy it is to create shimmery t-shirts, totes, and other totally fun items by sublimating onto White Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl using the Artesprix Markers!

Materials Needed:

  • Artesprix Permanent Thermal Transfer Sublimation Markers
  • Silhouette Cameo 3 Vinyl Cutter (or preferred cutter)
  • Silhouette Pen Holder attachment (optional)
  • Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl
  • Plain copy paper
  • Heat press
  • Thermal tape
  • Heat-Resistant Gloves
  • Piece of silicone-treated paper
  • Protective Teflon sheet
  • T-shirt (a dark-colored, cotton t-shirt is a good choice to start)
  • Scissors

Heat Press Settings for Glitter HTV Application:

  • 385ºF
  • Medium pressure
  • 3-5 seconds

Heat Press Settings for Sublimating Glitter HTV with Markers:

  • 400ºF
  • Medium pressure
  • 40 seconds

Determine a Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl Cut

There are a few different ways to approach creating a glitter vinyl cut design, which will act as the shimmery backdrop for the sublimated drawing. Sublimation newbies and those sublimating glitter HTV for the first time may execute their first project better by sticking with a basic heat transfer vinyl shape. This will give you the freedom to sublimate your marker design somewhere within the outline of the shape, as opposed to attempting to line up a complex vinyl cut to a complex drawing.

By cutting a more basic shape (square/rectangle/circle) will help to keep the heat transfer process simple, and you can ideally worry less about the marker design accidentally overlapping the edge of the vinyl and sublimating onto the t-shirt itself (polyester tees, 50/50s and tri-blend t-shirts will allow for the marker colors to transfer).


However – if you’re feeling extra creative and a little daring, and you’d like to try sublimating a more complex drawing on their heat transfer vinyl, encourage them to create their vinyl cut file in their preferred design software (or they can also download a fancier cut file if they’re still learning how to create their own designs). For this t-shirt, we downloaded a free vector design file courtesy of Freepik.

Pro-Tip to share: If you want to attempt lining up their marker design and the cut glitter heat transfer vinyl edge to edge and without worry about the possibility of overlap/accidentally sublimating part of their drawing on the actual t-shirt, you may want to choose a darker-colored t-shirt made of 100% cotton.

Cut + Weed + Press the Heat Transfer Vinyl

Once the glitter vinyl design is determined, the file is almost ready to be sent to the vinyl cutter. You may need to be reminded to mirror their designs – this is a critical step for both the heat transfer vinyl and the sublimation marker drawing to ensure the t-shirt design reads correctly.


Cut the vinyl and weed it, then heat press the glitter HTV to the t-shirt right away (385ºF, medium pressure, 3-5 seconds, hot peel). Since the sublimation process is triggered by heat, it’s good protocol to allow the t-shirt to cool in between applying the vinyl and sublimating the marker design on to the glitter HTV.

Let the Coloring Begin!

Now’s the fun part – it’s time to get coloring! For this extraterrestrial t-shirt, we utilized the Silhouette Pen Holder and the Artesprix markers to trace the full alien design on to a piece of copy paper.


If you don’t own the Pen Holder or you chose a more basic shape of cut glitter HTV, you can still let your imagination run wild! We do recommend tracing/measuring the size of the heat transfer vinyl cut-out (regardless of the shape) before coloring to ensure the coloring is taking place within the surface area of the glitter vinyl.


Ready to Sublimate & Shine

Once the glitter vinyl/t-shirt has had some time to cool down and the drawing is complete, lay the t-shirt out flat on the heat press platen. Using scissors, cut out the marker drawing as close to the outline as possible. Insert a piece of silicone-treated paper inside the shirt, as this will help prevent any excess marker ink from transferring to the back of the inside of the shirt in the event that there is any bleeding during the sublimation process.


Place the drawing directly on top of the pressed glitter vinyl – once you’ve registered the drawing with the pressed HTV to your satisfaction, secure the drawing to the t-shirt using heat-resistant thermal tape. Double-check that the heat press temperature has been increased to 400ºF and before placing a protective Teflon sheet on top of the t-shirt/drawing to prevent any excess color from transferring to the upper platen of the heat press. Proceed with pressing the tee for 45 seconds with medium pressure to ensure that the marker colors transfer vibrantly and completely.


While wearing protective gloves, carefully remove the transfer tape and drawing from the t-shirt after it has finished pressing (hot peel). Pull the silicone sheet out from the inside of the t-shirt – now check out the glittery artwork in its ethereal glory! We guarantee you will love this fun t-shirt trick and the new-found ability to create stellar items using your own drawings and a little bit of glitter vinyl.


September Trends Report: 4 Creative Trends We’re Seeing

This Trends Report is brought to you by the AFCI Trends Committee. Interested in submitting a trend? Contact Kristen Farrell at

The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Trends Committee is always on the lookout for creative trends to keep your business in the know about what’s popular on the Internet and with crafters, makers and DIYers. From pom poms to vintage rustic designs, here are four creative trends we’re seeing right now.

1. Pom Poms (They’re Here to Stay)

Submitted by Debra Quartermain, Debra Quartermain Design

Pom Pom Trim Boho Bag

Boho bag designed by Christie Troxell

“What a fun and light hearted trend, the classic pom pom and pom pom trim is still showing up everywhere! From DIY yarn pom pom crafts to strings of multi colored pom pom as room dividers, wall accents and window décor. Clothing hems, sleeves and necklines often have a delicate edging of tiny pom pom trim or large pom pom tassel strings. This corresponds with the popular boho trend.”

2. Crystals

Submitted by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Crafty Chica


“Crystals! The law of attraction has escalated beyond positive thinking. From rose quartz crystals to amethyst – people are turning to nature’s jewels to attract positive energy in their lives. Look online to see scores of DIY crystals, DIY crystal-inspired soaps and candles, and artful accessories such as crowns and earrings. Look at this DIY crystal tiara from HelloGiggles.”

3. Vintage Rustic Designs & More Fall Vibes

Submitted by Lisa Kettell, Lisa Kettell Designs

General Store Ceramic Platter

General Store Ceramic Platter

“What does September mean? Summer vacations come to a close, kids go back to school and Autumn festivals start to brew. It’s this time of year that we begin to get our rustic on. I am seeing a variety of vintage rustic designs. Stores just can’t get enough of general store motifs and farm to market supplies. Think wood, metal and ceramic. All mixing together as one. From wood crates, signs and displays to blanks ready for customizing. Laura Ingalls would be proud.”

Blank Metal Displays

Blank Metal Displays

Blank chalk board signs

Blank chalk board signs

Blank Wooden Planks

Blank Wooden Planks

“Let’s not forget the warm and cozy vibes of red and black. This means we will all be acquiring lumber jack plaid. Designers just can’t get enough of this warm fall combo, which I believe will extend into the holiday season. From fashion, home décor to crafts, plaid has taken over.”

wooden crate

Main Street Bakery Wood Crate

“Are you a foodie? One look at the general store and marketplace designs hitting the scene and you will be. Nothing like getting inspired to bake and create. Especially when you have really great products on the market to play with.”

4. Paint Pouring

Submitted by Candy Rosenberg, A Vintage Girl

Paint Pouring

Paint Pouring By Diana Mango

“I have been bombarded recently with the following trend, Paint Pouring. Although this is not new to the art world, it is new to your average consumer. I have not had a chance to try it myself and I have everything I need to do it, but I am little scared. I have watched many hours of YouTube videos and there is so many ways to do it that I am not sure where to start. I believe the biggest apprehension is the space that is needed and subsequent mess that is made, maybe I will just dig in but meanwhile I am going to share some Paint Pouring love right here.

What is Paint Pouring?
According to Marion Boddy-Evans it is pouring, puddling, dripping… the defining characteristic of this acrylic painting technique is that you don’t apply the paint with a brush or palette knife, but rather use gravity to move the paint across a canvas. The results are unlike anything you can get with a brush: fluid flows of paint without any brush marks or texture.

A great informational article by Golden Paints with a great explanation of the entire process can be found here.

The first artist that I would like to introduce is Diana Mango and quite honestly, I had not seen this technique hardly at all until I seen her doing it and sharing on her personal Facebook. We are fellow swappers on several Artist Trading Card groups, so we have been trading art for well over a year. She just jumped right in and was showing her finished work. She had a natural ability in creating cool effects with Paint Pouring. She has recently created a Facebook to show her work at, stop by if you get a chance.”

Paint Pouring

Paint Pouring By Diana Mango

Paint Pouring

Paint Pouring By Diana Mango

“Now, Diana Mango is a young woman that is budding artist but by no means has exhibits in art galleries and the such, this just shows that anyone can truly do this. However, there are some learned tricks and many techniques to create certain results by way of practicing.

These are completed works that I found on the Internet that are more known artists, so you can see how they are differ regardless of the one that is creating it.”

Paint Pouring

Paint Pour with the Double Dirty Landscape Technique by Caren Goodrich

Paint Pouring

Rick Cheadle of Cheadle Designs

Paint Pouring

Nata S. Fine Art on


Your Resource for Trade Tariffs News


The Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) supports all of our members, here and abroad, and is closely monitoring the threat the proposed trade tariffs have on the creative industry as a whole. Therefore, we’ve joined a coalition of 60+ Associations opposing the trade tariffs on either side – coordinated by the National Retail Federation. It is our joint belief that these tariffs would punish U.S. consumers while doing little to create U.S. jobs because tariffs are essentially a tax that U.S. businesses and consumers would pay.

Below are several articles about the trade tariffs in general as well as articles specifically about how they impact the creative industry. We’ll update this blog post regularly with new articles. Bookmark this page to get easy access to the latest news.

President’s Announcement – September 24, 2018

The President of the United States announced that the new tariffs will take effect on September 24, 2018. They will start at 10% and then increase to 25% on January 1, 2019. The final list includes 5,745 full or partial lines of the original 6,031 proposed tariff lines.


General Trade Tariffs Articles

Creative Industry Trade Tariffs Articles