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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Unleash Your Creativity with Design Ideas from Deflecto®

Guest post from Chris Vanasdalan – Marketing Manager at Deflecto

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

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

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

Check out some of our recent posts:

Toddler Sorting Bins

Deflecto_Toddler sorting game._blog

Starry Night Light


We even have how-to videos:

Organize Child’s Bathroom


Looking for more inspiring design tutorials? Visit us at

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

Visit to register.

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


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

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


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

Good luck!

AFCI Announces New PR Member Benefit!


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

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

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

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

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

Member Benefit of the Month: Peak Branding

PBI Mountain Logo in Electric Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join Us Today For #GivingTOOLSDay

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

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

The Art of Volunteering

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Carol Foldvary-Anderson / / 775.721.5338

Do You Show Your Employees Appreciation?

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

Gratitude shared in person beats applause from the crowd.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

For more information about TinyTys™, visit

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

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

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

By Rebeca Mojica, Master Artisan, Linkt® Craft Kits

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Launch Your Product at Creativation 2018

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

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

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

Personalized Marketing & The Know-Like-Trust Funnel

By Mari Chiba Luke, Stitchcraft Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do people begin to like your brand online?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any questions, contact Kristen Farrell at (201) 835-1209 or


#AFCIMakeMyDay: Meet Susan Dench of The Createrie Co.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Preparing Your Store for the Future


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


5 DIY Steps to Turn Your Idea into a Tangible Product

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

Not so fast.

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

Innovation DIY Infographic.png

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

Read the full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at

Meet TJ Perry

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Feel free to reach out to TJ directly at or 201-835-1232.

So, You Want to Become an AFCI Ambassador?

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

What is an AFCI Ambassador?

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

How do I get started?

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

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

Call our Membership Department at 201-835-1200 or send an email to


How the REAL ID Act Could Impact Your Travel to Creativation


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Resources

Special Offer from Office Depot

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

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

OD_SeptOffer_2017 (2)

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

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

6 Smartphone Photography Tips

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

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

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

Photograph Tips

Read the full article in the current edition of Gradient, which is available online at

National Sewing Month with The Sewing Loft!

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

AFCI Partners with the Kids In Need Foundation’s Second Responder® Program

The Association For Creative Industries has partnered with the Kids In Need Foundation’s Second Responder® Program to support relief caused by the recent natural disasters throughout the United States.


The Second Responder® Program works with local authorities, schools, and select sponsors to provide school and art supplies to students impacted by devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tornadoes. These events tear through communities leaving shock and despair for those in the path of destruction. For children, it means starting over and, in some cases, replacing all of their personal belongings. Small items like a backpack or a notebook can take on huge significance to a child.

During the last four years, the program has:

  • Provided thousands of backpacks filled with new school supplies directly to affected students
  • Worked with several Fortune 500 companies to expand efforts to bring school supplies to affected schools and students
  • Assisted countless devastated schools supporting more than 15,000 students
  • Launched a new program to provide teacher totes to help impacted teachers with supplies

Unlike those providing the critical necessities of food, shelter, and medical aid after a disaster, the Second Responder® Program operates during the recovery period following the devastation, bringing hope and a reminder that things will get better with time when we work together.

You can easily make a donation to the Second Responder® Program through our AFCI Second Responder fundraising page. Together, the AFCI community support will get students and teachers back into the classrooms as quick as possible. Thank you for all you do.

#AFCIMakeMyDay – Celebrating You!


AFCI’s MAKE MY DAY campaign celebrates and rewards the creativity, accomplishments and positive impact AFCI members have within the industry and society.

We want to see what you’ve been up to! Show us what you’ve been working on by posting a picture of an exciting new project, a cool new business development, or the positive impact of craft using #AFCIMakeMyDay.

We’ll select a winner each week to feature on the AFCI Blog.

At the end of the year, we’ll select one winner to be featured in the Spring 2018 issue of Gradient, the Association’s printed magazine!

AFCI Designer Section Looks to Make Your Day at Creativation

One of the reasons rock art is popular is it’s a random act of kindness that improves a friend or stranger’s day. Inspired by this trend, members of the AFCI Designer Section will be creating and hiding pieces of art at Creativation to make your day!

Trish Cortez, who is coordinating the Sharing the Creative Heart event, discusses how you can get involved!

Last year, I was invited to participate in a rock painting event. It was held around Thanksgiving, and we left the rocks for people to find. Some of the rocks were painted beautifully; others had inspirational messages painted upon them. We did not leave any type of a tag or message saying this was free, we just left it in plain site.

We could paint as many as we wanted. I made mine on Black Friday and painted bright colored flowers with words.

I am coordinating a similar event for the AFCI Designer Section at Creativation. We are asking Designers to make a piece of art, bring it to Creativation, and hide it somewhere in the Phoenix Convention Center. Each piece will have a tag with this beautiful design by Rita Barakat to signify it is a gift for whomever finds it.


Artwork ©Rita Barakat

We are doing this to share what we love and hope it brings joy to those who attend.

As Designers, we all have huge hearts and that’s how we rock!

Designers wishing to participate may contact Trish Cortez at Tags for art pieces will be available in the AFCI Designer Section Facebook group.

1-on-1 with Shama Hyder – Creativation 2018 Keynote Speaker

We’re thrilled to announce our Creativation 2018 Keynote Speaker is Shama Hyder. Shama is the Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning agency, The Marketing Zen Group, and best-selling author of two books: The Zen of Social Media Marketing and Momentum. As a speaker and strategist, she’s worked with leading brands, has been featured across major media channels, and has received numerous recognitions, including the Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award and one of the “Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs” by both Inc. Magazine and Forbes.


Shama will give an insightful presentation on what businesses need to thrive in the digital age, and how to consistently market and grow an organization in the face of unrelenting change. We interviewed Shama to give you a preview of what you can expect to learn from her speech.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I wear so many hats. I am a CEO, an author of multiple best-selling books, keynote speaker, serial entrepreneur and investor…and those are just the professional hats! As a person, my family is extremely important to me, and I consider my employees part of my family as well. The team is very close knit, and I couldn’t do what I do without them. As a leader, I believe my job is to create value and empower others to do their best.

Your company, The Marketing Zen Group, has grown an average of 400% annually since 2009. How did you start the business and what do you attribute to its success?

We grew 400% in our first year alone. A big driver of our growth has been a keen understanding of social media and the digital ecosystem. We were arguably one of the first social media agencies in the country. We’ve been blessed to work with some amazing brands and companies, including Mary Kay, Chase Business, and the YMCA, to just name a few. dubbed you the “Millennial Master of the Universe”. Why are Millennials important to a business’ bottom line?

Millennials are no longer some small subsection of society. They have really led this technological revolution of sorts. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Just think about that! It will be the other generations that are the minority. This means your customers, your vendors, your buyers, your partners…and understanding this generation becomes crucial and critical to success.

Can you provide a preview of your keynote presentation at Creativation?

I can’t wait to speak at Creativation. Whether you are a small business or a big box retailer, there will be something in it for you! My goal is to simplify the digital landscape and to truly define what it means for the industry. I also love sharing tactics, so not only will I be covering the broader strategy, but I’ll be sharing specific tips, tools, and case studies that the audience can implement as soon as they leave. I am big fan of low hanging fruit!

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

It’s an AMAZING time to be alive and to be an entrepreneur. Technology, access, resources, and the ability to reach millions is tangible and real. You have to think of yourself as an editor, not a perfectionist. As an editor, you are constantly looking at progress, improvement, making things better for the 2.0 version. That type of mindset and attitude is key to being successful in this digital age.

Register for Shama’s Keynote presentation on Tuesday, September 12 at 11am EDT at

Tips for the DIY bride

This is a guest post by Camille Wooding, DIY Place.

DIY has become quite fashionable among millennials getting married.  That ability to have something unique that reflects your style and be in on the latest artisan trends is hard to resist.  And hey – is cheaper, right?

Weeeelllll – maybe,  maybe not.  First of all – don’t mix up DIY  with “handmade” – DIY means “Do-It-Yourself” – you, your friends, your family.  It requires commitment of time and effort.  You have to design the elements, obtain the products and then make the stuff.  It’s a tall order.

Here are some handy tips:

  1. If you are not into craft and you don’t have a close friend or family member who is, DIY is not for you.
  2. Choose your DIY wisely. While you can, theoretically, make anything you see on Pinterest (I say this, just as a parent tells a child they can do anything when they grow up), many craft items require special machines an tools such as die cut machines, paper trimmers  and embossing tools.  If you don’t have these machines, unless you plan to buy them, you are stalled.  Even if you buy the tools, add time for learning how to use them.  Stick with items you know how to make.
  3. Make sure your design is consistent – get feedback on the overall design from a professional or from friends you trust. A good idea will be to choose a line from one manufacturer because they match colours for you.  Once you know the theme and colours, you can also visit your local craft store.  Many times the owners have access to manufacturers products that are not on the shelf and can order these for you.  They also have information about products that are due to be released so it expands your options.
  4. Local craft store owners can also give you advice on appropriate tools. Depending on your needs, a few punches and a paper trimmer may be all you need instead of a die-cut machine.  This can save you lots of money.
  5. Budget – DIY is not necessarily cheaper. It can be inexpensive if you know what you are doing. For example, it may be less costly to buy generic cake boxes and decorate them, than to try to make the boxes yourself.  If you want 1,000 flowers – its not going to be cheap.
  6. Plan. Plan. You need to plan out the process and allocate the required time.  You need to make the prototypes and time each one so you have a realistic view of how much time you need to spend on each element.  Invitations need to be done first and you should plan to get the other DIY stuff (boxes, tokens, centre pieces, place cards, agenda etc.) at least a month before the wedding.  Why? – Because that month will be chock full of other wedding stuff – rehearsals, makeup testing, dress fittings, bridal showers etc.
  7. Communicate and gain commitment. Don’t assume friends and family are available when you need them.  Get them to commit to a schedule ahead of time.
  8. Be flexible – what you have in your head, is not necessarily what the final item will look like. Also, you may not be able to find all the elements you are looking for.  Have some alternative ideas in mind when you go shopping.  You may be inspired by something you didn’t think of.  You local craft store owner can also give some help here.
  9. Keep it simple. Unless you are a craft pro and have lots of time on your hands, keep the designs simple.  This makes it more manageable.
  10. Know when you need a pro. Most of the items are expendable (yes, a lot of it ends up in the garbage).  Things like your guest book remain with you forever.  Spend more time on this or get a professional to do it.
  11. Take little steps – do things in small batches at a time. You don’t want to start off too ambitious and lose steam.  You need to keep your momentum going (and have some fun while you are at it.)
  12. Yes – you need a decorator. It could be hired help or a friend but you would not have time to set up the room if you are getting married the next day.


Canadian Anti-Spam Law – Are You Compliant in 2017?

This is a guest post by RealMagnet.

If you send marketing emails to customers in Canada, it’s time to update your practices to make sure you’re in compliance with Canada’s Anti-SPAM Law (CASL) Private Right of Action (PRA) provision, active as of July 1, 2017. It’s time to do your due diligence and get in line with the latest rules – as long as you’re making this effort, you’re protected from legal liability.

realmagnet infographicOn July 1, 2017, the Private Right of Action (PRA) provision of the Canadian Anti-Spam Law takes effect. Under this rule, recipients who have been sent mail in violation of CASL can sue for actual and statutory damages against the sender.

Download our 7 Step Guide to make sure you are in compliance with CASL in 2017.

“One Big Make-n-Take”: A Look Inside AFCI’s Visit to the Japan Hobby Show

In April, our President & Chief Executive Officer, Mark Hill attended the Japan Hobby Show, the largest consumer craft show in Japan. Organized by the Japan Hobby Association, the 41st annual Japan Hobby Show took place in Tokyo and attracted over 200,000 consumers over three days. From trends to new relationships, a lot emerged from Mark’s visit. The AFCI staff sat down with Mark and discussed his experience. Read our conversation.

How was your visit to the Japan Hobby Show? How did this experience differ from other shows you’ve attended?

The trip was successful. The Japan Hobby Association came to Creativation 2017 earlier this year, and extended an invite to us to attend its annual event.

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The Japan Hobby Show was the largest and busiest consumer event that I’ve ever attended. What is unique about this show is that every exhibitor utilizes hands-on demonstrations to introduce and engage consumers. Think of it as one big make-n-take. Consumers pay a $15 entrance fee and then visit booths to sign up for make-n-takes for an additional fee. They pay for the experience and go home with a finished project having learned how to use the products involved. Both the consumer and the manufacturer see immediate value.

In addition to the exhibitors’ booths, there was an area dedicated to individual designers who were also teaching projects that consumers could pay for and complete. The area was about half the size of a football field, which included about 50 different tables that could seat six to eight people each. There was a menu at the front of the area that showed projects available in each section; consumers would go in, sign up and pay, and then go back at the time the project was scheduled and have an interactive learning and playtime experience.

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What were some of the trends you noticed? Did you see any universal trends?

The biggest trend by far was jewelry making produced using a liquid UV adhesive, which comes clear and in many colors. Consumers embellish their rings, charms, story lockets, and etc. with various types of precious and non-precious stones, and then use a UV lamp to harden the liquid.

Indoor gardening and miniaturization is a trend that is occurring globally. I saw it in Europe at Creativeworld earlier this year. Both in Europe and Japan, this trend has evolved from the miniature fairy gardens we’re seeing in the United States. Even more miniaturization is occurring in Japan; model-sized hedges, plants, vegetables and all sorts of things are being used to make attractive table settings and other small décor pieces

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Another universal trend is painting and drawing. Yet, at the Japan Hobby Show there was an expanded use of colored markers and paint markers in manga or anime style art. This animated style can be found in coloring books and appeals to many young consumers.

There was so much there: Weaving baskets, and creating bags and other accessories using both natural materials and different colored lacings; Production of small accessories like handbags and hats using small pieces of fabric; Stenciling as part of a multi-media, small finished home décor pieces; Crocheting small projects for home décor pieces was also popular.

One of the most interesting areas was the edible arts section of the show. In addition to cake decorating and sugar crafting, there was a booth showing how to design with sushi.

What were you looking to accomplish at the Japan Hobby Show?

A core focus of AFCI’s strategic roadmap is to expand our global reach by partnering with international organizations like the Japan Hobby Association. During this visit we established a partnership to help boost trade and membership in both countries. Furthermore, we agreed to facilitate new business in each other’s events, to find ways to have Japanese suppliers exhibit at Creativation and U.S. suppliers to participate in the Japan Hobby Show.

You were considered a guest of honor. What did that mean to you?

On the evening of the first day, I attended a reception with Japan Hobby Association member suppliers and the Association’s Board of Directors. As the guest of honor, I had the opportunity to speak of and advocate partnerships with the Japanese creative industries.

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In addition, I discussed our 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study findings and the $43+ billion dollar U.S. market, which the companies in attendance found interesting and exciting. This shows the value of our industry research on a global level. As a result of our newfound partnership, the Japan Hobby Association will be sharing consumer insights about the Japan market with us, which will be available to our entire membership later this year.

Did you make any new connections?

I was able to reengage a number of companies that I had prior working relationships with in my career. I was also able to meet the Association’s largest suppliers and distributors and other industry leaders over the course of the three days.

How is our rebranding to the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) received overseas?

The Japan Hobby Association and its member companies were aware of the changes we’ve made to Creativation and our membership. They were very complimentary of the changes and are look forward to seeing more progress as our new partnership develops and strengthens.

Mixed Media 2017 Exhibitor: The Crafter’s Workshop

Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


Tell us a little bit about your company.

“Before we made stencils, we owned a retail store – and what a story we could tell! We know what your challenges are and what your days are like. We get it. Buying stencils should be the easiest part of your day and we do our best to make that happen. Oh, and we make all of our stencils right here in the USA!!”

What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“As always, we will have the newest, freshest looks for your Fall/Winter merchandising plans. Lots of styles to choose from which are sure to tempt your customers!”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Let’s just say it’s going to be Jolly, Holly Mixed Media Event!!”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“As a ‘recovering retailer’ myself, it’s so important to get out of your own bubble (ie: your store!) and hear how other store owners around the country are tackling the same issues.”

Mixed Media Event 2017 Exhibitor: Prima Marketing Inc.

Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“Expect innovation, education and a myriad of fresh products to spark your creativity. Our booth is always a reflection of our unique look and style and we always welcome everyone to come and see our newest products and designs.”

What are you most excited for with AFCI hosting the mixed media event this year?

“We are excited at the opportunity of showing attendees our latest mixed media products and educating our customers on the latest techniques and trends.”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Yes! We will have our sneak peeks of our latest releases on our blog in the upcoming months:”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“We think it’s a great opportunity to experience mixed media products through the vision of each vendor. We believe that our innovative products and designs make us a leader in mixed media and this even facilitates the education and creativity for our customers.”


Mixed Media Event 2017 Exhibitor: Lawn Fawn

Meet the exhibitors that will be at the Mixed Media Event 2017 in this blog interview mini-series!


Tell us a little bit about your company.

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!!”

What can attendees expect/look forward to at your booth?

“Attendees can expect a fun booth with all day make and takes! We love being able to connect and have fun with amazing store owners!”

Do you have any product teasers or sneak-peeks?

“Although we don’t have sneak peeks yet, you can expect super cute products that will make you and your customers smile!”

How will retailers in the creative industry benefit from this event?

“Retailers will benefit from this event because they will be the first to see new products. They will get to try it in our classes and make and takes which is always fun! We love being able to connect in person!”


The Power of Pinning


This is a guest post by Patti Biro.

Creativation Flashback

At the Phoenix event I was able to share some insights regarding how to use Pinterest to promote your creative business. Pinning for business is a little different than pinning for pleasure. It requires a strategic plan and some best practices.  To recap some of the tips I shared in my workshops read on!

Shelf Life
Unlike other social media platforms a single pin has true staying power. While an estimated 40% of clicks on your pin happen in the first day you will continue to generate clicks and repins for 30 days and longer. This extends the value of each and every pin that you create to reach a larger audience. Taking the time to create a great pin with staying power will maximize the shelf life.

Best Time to Pin
You will generate the most likes, clicks and repins if you schedule your postings in the evening hours. That is when Pinterest is most active. Target your pins for Saturday mornings or Fridays after 3:00 to capture the most traffic. Work days and work hours are not the time to pin. Use those times for other social media and outreach activities.

Be Original
We know you are creative-so be original too! 80% of the content on Pinterest is repins from other boards and pinners. If you create original content you can highlight your product or business to the best advantage. Be a bit out of the box and share ideas on how to use your product, offer a sneak peek behind the scenes as you create your products or something about your creative process.

The Big Picture
Pinterest boards and individual pins can be used to sell not only products but also services and events. Create boards that highlight your products but also keep your audience engaged with other content. Are you going to be at an art fair, outdoor market or pop up event? Use Pinterest before, during and after to generate interest and attendance and to share the fun of the event.

Grow Your Followers
It is just good manners to follow everyone who follows you! You can also grow your followers by searching out larger groups of likeminded pinners (some groups have several thousand followers). You can find a list of different pin groups and their size at You should also follow your vendors and suppliers to grow your reach.

Keep your descriptions short.  Between 200-300 words is the recommended length. This is the place to be informative-not funny or cute. Add hash tags with caution. The only place you can use hashtags is in the pin description and they work a bit different on Pinterest.  A best practice is to keep hashtags to a minimum using no more than three.   Always link back to your website.

Use the description to add advice, give basic instructions or how to-s. This kind of description will get you more notice. If you are repining content add you thoughts and show your creative side! For example if you just found a Pin of a fantastic setting that inspired you share what is special about it to you and how you plan to apply it to your creative work.

Don’t Forget to Clean
Remove older pins especially pictures of events long passed or product you no longer sell or create. Take it one board at a time and clean house! If there is something you want to save just for your own use create a Secret Board that only you can see.

Now you are on your way to Winning with Pinning!

Have a look at some of our other seminar throwbacks from Creativation University 2017.

31 Days of Crafting: Tech-Crafting at AFCI!

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

We were fortunate enough to have AFCI Professional Maker/DIYer Member, Natasha Dzurny of TechnoChic, come by today and craft with us for #NationalCraftMonth!

We made flashing bow ties and flowers using her tech-craft kits.

Have a look at some of the pictures taken today!

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

31 Days of Crafting: Scrapbooking for a Cause

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

March is a busy month for AFCI Affiliate Member, Crops of Luv. Crops of Luv is a nonprofit organization that makes scrapbooks for families with critically ill children.

They are hosting one of the largest crops they’ve had during the year where they will complete over 20 scrapbook albums for families who have critically ill children that have been granted a wish.

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As one can imagine, it is a huge undertaking! It requires tons of hours of prep time in order to get all of the album’s and embellishments ready for transport to their event venue in Tucson from their studio in Phoenix.

It is a great event with an amazing scrapbooking group called the Pantano Christian Scrapbook Chicks – a group of over 120 scrapbookers that get together monthly. Once a year they host a crop in Crops of Luv’s honor.

Crops of Luv has been able to not only make scrapbooks but raised over $2,500 each time they had one of these crops. This is their sixth year having this event.

Jody McNeilis, Cofounder of Crops of Luv, states “We are very grateful for the opportunity we have to not only complete our albums for these deserving families but to raise much-needed funds to continue our mission.”

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Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

31 Days of Crafting: “It Runs In the Family”

This is a guest post by AFCI Staff Member, Kristen Farrell.

Most of you have probably heard and/or used the idiom, “It runs in the family.”

My great aunt, Kathleen Sullivan was a fine artist. Art was not her full-time job; yet, she painted whenever she had the time and inspiration, and even sold some of her pieces. Two generations have come and grown, and I’m sorry to say her talents have not been inherited. However, she instilled an appreciation for art in my family that will never be lost.

Almost one year ago to the day, my husband and I closed on our first home. About two weeks ago, we finally got around to hanging pictures and several of my great aunt’s paintings (or as my husband would say, “we finally gave in to putting holes in the walls”).


For National Craft Month, I’m celebrating my aunt’s artwork. I’m proud to share her creativity and have it serve as a daily reminder for me to make time to do what I love.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-6-42-27-pm

I’m also hopeful for another family artist. Over the past few years, many of my cousins have had children. Who know, maybe there will be another artist among us sooner than we think.

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

31 Days of Crafting: Instagram Photo a Day Contest

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

To celebrate today, we invite everyone to join Therm O Web’s Instagram NCM Photo a Day Contest.


Each day, post a picture and tag #thermoweb with your photo that goes with that day’s challenge theme. They’ll be watching for your responses and, in turn, they have some absolutely amazing prizes to give out to you for participating! They have fabrics from Moda, papers from Photo Play Paper, books by Erin Schlosser and Amy Friend, kits from Maya Road, Art Impressions Stamps, Blend Fabrics, Deco Foil products, HeatnBond and much, much more. But here’s the thing . . . you won’t know what day they’re giving those prizes out. So the best way to win . . . is to participate and share as much as you can throughout the month!

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

31 Days of Crafting: Roll-up Checkerboard

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

For AFCI Designer Member, Betsy Burnett aka #CrazyShoeboxLady, March is a DOUBLE CELEBRATION! She celebrates National Craft Month as well as being involved in the Quality Craft Item of the Month – a time where year-round collectors from all over the world collect items to put into shoebox gifts. Betsy coordinates a group of charity crafters that calls themselves the #CrazyShoeboxCrew and they collect items to put into the shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child (OCC).

OCC is an international charity that sends gift filled shoeboxes to children in need all over the world. Shoeboxes are filled with: Personal Care Items; soap, toothbrush, comb, washcloth, School Supplies; notebook, crayons, markers, notebook, pencils, pens, gluesticks, rulers, toys, clothing items, a stuffed animal and more!

After creating and collecting items all year they have a huge shoebox packing party the first Saturday in November.

According to Betsy, Operation Christmas Child typically receives the least amount of boxes for children in  the 10-14 year old age range. With this said, she created a roll-up checkerboard to fit the bill!  The roll-up checkerboard is perfect for a boy or a girl it can even be personalized by the colors you choose, or the items you use for checkers.

Let’s see how Betsy put together her project!

Supplies Needed:
Fabric placemat at least 12” x 18”
“Checkerboard” stencil from Plaid Crafts “Farm Life Collection”
Acrylic Paint (Folk Art Acrylics Shown)
Stencil Brush
Masking Tape
Paper Plate
Peel and stick Fabric Adhesive Tape Therm-o-Web
24” length of Ribbon

Markers, Buttons, tokens (12 each of 2 different colors)


1” velcro pieces

Make sure placemat is clean and ironed flat if necessary.
With placemat facing you lengthwise, position the checkerboard stencil on one end of the placemat and tape stencil in place using masking tape.
Using stencil brush, apply paint to the stenciled areas, remove stencil and allow to dry.
Apply 2- 2 inch pieces of Fabric Fuse to the non painted end of the placemat. Fold non painted end of placemat up to the checkerboard to form a pocket. Apply firm pressure to taped areas to make sure the adhesive bond is secure.
Fill the pocket with the pieces you have decided to use for checkers and roll up board. Mark area on back side you wish to place the ribbon tie. Remove checkers. Apply 1 1/2 inch piece of Fabric Fuse to middle of ribbon (you might have to trim or fold over the adhesive depending on the width of your ribbon.) Place ribbon unto area marked, and apply firm pressure to secure adhesive.
To play: unroll mat and remove checkers
For storage: place pieces inside of pocket and roll up. Tie ribbon to secure.


Once rolled up most normal sized tokens being used for checker pieces should stay in place for storage. For bulkier pieces apply a piece of velcro along the edge of the pocket using fabric fuse.

Would you like to learn more about Operation Christmas Child and how you can pack your own shoebox gift for a child in need? Check out their website for more information.  How to pack a shoebox!

Check out the #CrazyShoeboxCrew on Facebook.

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

31 Days of Crafting: Suminagashi and DIY Tech-Crafts!

March is National Craft Month! All month long we’ll be sharing stories from your peers about what they are doing to celebrate and how they are encouraging others to discover the benefits of creativity.

To kick off National Craft Month, we are featuring two extremely creative and kid-friendly projects recently done by AFCI Designer Member, Carol Heppner.

Suminagashi Candle Holder

Carol’s first project is a candle holder… but not just any ordinary candle holder. Carol used Suminagashi marbling, an ancient Japanese marbling technique where ink floats atop the water and then transfers to plain paper, to create vibrant designs. Instead of using marbling inks, Carol use enamel paints from Testor Corporation for her project. The enamel paints also float on water and are able to dry quicker than inks. She then hand washed the finished marble glass with a soft cloth.

The finishing touch to the design is by Kool Tak’s Shiny Foils.

Let’s get started!

When creating this candle holder:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s precautions listed on the bottle of paint.
  • Cover your work surface with a plastic tablecloth.
  • Use craft gloves to keep your fingers clean.
  • Have long hair?  Use a hair tie to keep hair from falling into the marbling mixture.
  • Protect your clothes when working with paints.


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  • Craft gloves
  • Plastic tablecloths
  • Low-tack masking tape
  • Disposable aluminum pan filled with water
  • Toothpicks
  • Glass candleholder, jar or vase


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  • Testors Paints  #1127 GL Orange and #1169 FL Yellow
  • Ultra Clear Tape, 1/8”
  • Sea-Tones Shiny Foils


  • Place the masking tape onto areas of the glass that will remain unpainted.
  • Put on the craft gloves.
  • Add about an inch or so of room temperature water into the disposable aluminum pan.


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  • Place a tiny drop of paint onto a toothpick and then touch it to the surface of the water.
  • Use another toothpick to place the second color of paint onto the surface of the water.
  • Continue to add the paints a few more times.
  • Leave some of the paint as drops.
  • Drag some of the paint in different directions with a new toothpick.


carol heppner party favor q

  • Dip and then roll the glass into the paint on top of the water.  Make sure to cover all exposed areas of the glass.
  • Remove the glass from the water.
  • Let the paint dry on the glass.
  • Remove the low-tack masking tape.
  • Wrap the Kool Tak Ultra Clear Tape, double-stick tape, around the glass.
  • Apply the dull side of the Shiny Foils onto the Kool Tak Ultra Clear Tape.

Note:  Do not discard this paint/water in sinks because the paint can stick to the sink. Use a piece of paper to scoop all remaining paint from the water.
Carol Heppner glass for party and weddings 1_edited_20170222165237580 (1)



TechnoChic DIY Tech-Craft Kits

Carol Heppner technochic flower 2

During the Creativation Show in January, Carol met with AFCI Professional Maker/DIYer Natasha Dzurny, creator of TechnoChic DIY.  One of her goals is to inspire more women and girls (age 8 and up) to use electronics in their creative endeavors.  Natasha gave Carol a DIY light-up paper flower to make with her ten-year-old niece.

The TechnoChic DIY paper flower kit is a great entry-level project for young girls.  The kit comes with paper flowers, an LED light, a battery and a brooch pin.

Carol Heppner technochic flower 3


The DIY light-up paper flower kit also make an awesome party activity.  Each kit makes ten LED flowers.   The kit’s step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and the finished flower will bring a sense of pride for the maker.

Carol Heppner Technochic flower 1

Stay tuned for more stories and tips on the AFCI Blog and all of AFCI’s social media channels.

What are you doing to celebrate National Craft Month? Share your story by emailing or using the hashtags #WeAreAFCI, #CRE8TIME and #NationalCraftMonth on social media.

Exhibitors: Who’s New at AFCI’s Creativation for 2017

By Amanda Formaro, Crafts by Amanda.

There were plenty of new exhibitors at the 2017 Creativation show in Phoenix, Arizona. A full alphabet of new faces, from AFA Inc. to Zorbitz Inc. and plenty of letters in between. I had an inside look while on the show floor and was impressed by the variety of innovative product offerings. I went live on Facebook and took viewers through several of these exhibitors during the show if you’d like to walk along with us.


My first stop was at the Ann Williams Group booth where I chatted with Colleen. I should probably say that I’m a crafter and a painter, I don’t do any sort of needlework (yet). However, I love the idea of the Loop de Loom fast weaving loom that allows you to craft scarves, bags, and even stuffed animals in a much shorter time than traditional looms. The Loop de Doo bracelet maker would be ideal for tween girls and I think would be especially sought after by camp directors and scout leaders. Products available cover a wide range of ages, starting at age 6 all the way into adulthood. With brands like Craft-Tastic, Craft Crush, and Loopdedoo among others, there seems to be something for everyone!


I’ve seen plenty of DIY projects out there that show you how to change out your drawer hardware, but I’m loving the idea behind Cameleon Hardware’s design plates. These easily changeable plates are made from recycled Capri Sun and candy wrappers collected from schools. The concept is simple. Glue anything you like to the design plate and change out your drawer handle hardware any time you want. Leave the hardware in place and change out the plates as your kids grow and your tastes change. A very affordable way to change out your décor and style!

Next I visited Susan from Masterson Art Products where I learned about the Sta-Wet Handy Palette. As a painter that uses acrylics, this product piqued my interest. It’s made up of a thin sponge and special palette paper that provides a layer of moisture to help keep your paint hydrated, preventing it from drying out prematurely. This product comes in several sizes and replacement sheets are also available. Susan also showed me the Rinse Well which provides painters with access to fresh water without having to stop and head to the sink every ten minutes. The Rinse Well flushes the dirty water and refills the well with clean water. Finally, we had a look at their newest product, the Sta-New brush holder. Masterson says this allows brushes to properly dry by hanging them bristles downward. This forces the water to run down the bristles instead of into the handle, extended the life of your brushes.


I stopped by the Wilson Enterprises booth to have a look at their Birch Wood product line. All their birch wood is harvested from the upper peninsula of Michigan and is all kiln dried. Their items are used for a variety of things including ornaments, coasters, vase filler and photo plaques. They are used in scrapbooking, stamping, painting, carving, wood burning, screen printing, deco paging and plenty more. Many of their beautiful items have become quite popular for weddings too. From large slices of birch wood stacked to make a wedding cake stand to tiny slices of birch wood branches used in candle lit mason jars. Their products can be found in over 2,000 retail stores including big craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby.

I know a lot of crafters and seamstresses that will love this next one. I stopped by the Scissorfobz booth where I could check out their line of products. Pretty hand-beaded scissorfobz come with a protective cap adorned with ornamental jewelry. All are different and unique making them great gifts. They even come with an extender chain for your larger scissors. Their scissor covers are made with their proprietary scissor gripper material inside. When you put your scissors inside the sleeve it grips your scissors so that the cover does not come off until you take it off. These covers come in a 4-size value pack and are available on their website as well as in their Etsy shop.

I came upon some of the cutest crochet, knitting and sewing kits at The Crafty Kit Company booth. If you followed along on Facebook live you know I spent quite a bit of tie in their booth gushing over all the adorable kits available. Aside from the individual kits, they also have themed sets (polar set, African set, forest set, etc.) that are geared toward the kids. There’s a special token included with the sets. Once your child has completed all the animals in the set they send the token back to the company and will receive a scene in the mail to match their set.


Another source for darling kits for kids was the Haan Crafts booth. Sabrina Cassidy of Haan Crafts told me that they are a leading educational kit manufacturer with kids’ growth and development in mind. They offer adorable bagged felt craft kits that come in a variety of animals including a penguin, elephant, owl, cat, hippo, dog, tiger, raccoon, pig, and a monkey. They are packaged in resealable bags so kids can keep their project inside while it’s still in progress. Each kit has preprinted felt with stitching, placement and cutting lines on every piece. The kits include all the supplies needed including stuffing, needles and floss. Each package makes a 7-inch stuffed animal and a matching key chain animal. Their materials are made in the US from recycled plastic bottles.


Talk about a blingy booth! Brightz are lights you can use in crafting, in jars, as accents, tucked into flowers, threaded with ribbon, woven through bicycle spokes… you name it you can probably do it! Be sure to check the packages for details first, but I even witnessed lights submerged in water in a flower vase (not the battery pack of course). A great way to add some sparkle to weddings, an anniversary celebration or holiday party. Brightz are widely distributed and can be found on amazon, in mass merchants, craft stores, basically all over.


One of my favorite product additions at this year’s show was Colorwear. Introduced by The Mountain, Colorwear is a new concept of coloring t-shirts. This shirt manufacturer out of New Hampshire dyes the shirts and then prints the designs onto the shirts that you can color with Tulip brand fabric markers (included in the kit). Each shirt is hand dyed with eco-friendly water based inks and dyes and then printed with gorgeously detailed coloring book designs. You won’t find these in the big box craft stores though. If you have a favorite boutique store you like to visit check with them, or browse their 50 different designs on


If you knit or crochet you know the struggle that is the traveling yarn ball. Kate, the founder of YarnIt, was working on a knitting project aboard an airplane when her yarn ball rolled off her lap, under the seat and all the way up the aisle. When she finally retrieved it, her beautiful white yarn was covered in grime and crumbs. That’s when she came up with the idea of the Yarnit. This plastic ball with locking plug holds your yarn keeping it from falling and rolling across the floor. A new design is also in the works for skeins instead of just balls of yarn that they hope will be available by Mother’s Day 2017. And here’s a handy tidbit. The Yarnit has a removable silicone base that is perfect for holding small items such as tiny scissors and other notions.

At the U-Paint Metal Crafts booth I found myself surrounded by hundreds of paintable metal designs. Turns out, the Frank Morrow Company offers over 6,000 different designs! These paintable molded metal items work great as sun catchers, on wind chimes, as lapel pins, refrigerator magnets, and ornaments. They are per accessories for a scarf or handbag as well. With 6,000 different designs there’s definitely something for everyone, including boys! Sometimes it’s a little harder to find things the boys will enjoy, but I don’t think you’ll have that problem here.


Enter the world of Diamond Dotz. Seriously, the gorgeous bling in this booth was overwhelming. One of my favorite things about crafting is intricacy. I get lost in the zone as I concentrate on tiny details. If you are the same chances are you will love these Diamond Dotz. The company offers kits, big and small, which uses a polyester fabric coated with special adhesive and a stylus which has chemical reaction with their dots. You use the stylus to pick up the dot and place it onto the designated area of the canvas using a code that identifies the colors of each dot. In the end, you’ll have a dazzling piece of artwork only available at


Finally rounding out my tour of the new exhibitors I stopped by the Giani booth. For about $80.00 you can buy a kit that will transform your entire kitchen. It’s true! There’s a little preplanning involved of course. If you have cats that like to jump on the counters, you may need to block off the room during your project. You’ll need to allow your counters to dry for 24 hours before you can use it at all, and then allow 3 days before you put anything significant on it. There’s a 14-day waiting period for heavier items like a microwave. The kit comes with everything you need to make over your kitchen. You can visit their website or stop by

There was a dazzling array of new exhibitors this year at Creativation, you can see the full list of them here. I am excited to try out some of these “new to me” products and hope you will too.


This is a guest post by Hannah & Rosie, The New Craft House.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that we recently spent a week in the USA. Whilst we were there to enjoy the sunshine and the food and whilst we may have extended our trip to include a few days in LA (!!!) we actually had a pretty important reason for visiting. We were asked to attend the Creativation show held by the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) in Phoenix and basically nothing was going to stop us jumping on that plane out there.


The AFCI, previously the Craft and Hobby Association, hold shows in the US every year. We’ve never made it out to the US show before so we’re really excited to attend. The show has hundreds of exhibitors from across the craft spectrum, lots of workshops and seminars and a general crafty buzz that is hard to beat. Held over 5 days we got stuck in from the start and kicked things off by participating in the Fashion Fusion Challenge.


Hannah Sewing during the Fashion Fusion Challenge

The challenge was simple – using the patterns, fabric and tools provided, design and make an outfit. We were held up on the Greyhound so only had a few hours to finish the outfit but we managed it! Hannah sewed up a matching skirt and top with cute embellished bees appliquéd onto the top. Judging day came round and it WON the sewing category! Rosie even walked the catwalk in it at The After Party one evening.


We really enjoyed just walking around the show and meeting lots of new faces. One of our favourite stands was Sweet Georgia who had lovely yarns and a comfy spot to just sit and knit for a while. Check them out on instagram, we’re told they have some UK stockists too. The ladies on the Knit Pro stand (called Knitters Companion in the US) were so friendly and even gave us a couple of pairs of plastic needles when we told them that we hadn’t been able to bring our metal ones on the flight. They saved us 12 hours of boredom on the way home!


We had a great time in Phoenix and are really hoping we can go back next year. We’ll also be sharing a post shortly about why being a member of the AFCI is a great idea if you’re a designer/maker, stockist, supplier, manufacturer or even a blogger!


Hannah & Rosie

Top 3 Trends from Creativation 2017

This is a guest post by Amber Gerstel, Damask Love.


Did you make it Creativation? Or did you stay home this year, and watch closely as social media kept you up to date? Either way, I’m here to bring you up to speed on some of the trends I spotted while walking the Creativation Show floor.

Before we dive in, I guess I should introduce myself! I’m Amber and you can find me blogging the day away on Damask Love. You can also catch me on the Home Shopping Channel where I sell all sorts of tempting, crafty goodies.

The 2017 Creativation Show was filled with unbelievable amounts of innovation and creativity, but as I walked around, there were a few trends and themes that kept popping up – so that’s what I’m here to bring you! The Top Three Trends of Creativation 2017. Here we go!

Palm Trees, Popsicles, Pineapples – oh my!

Of all the recurring themes at Creativation 2017, this was the one I saw most – and I’m not mad about it! It may have been chilly and rainy in Phoenix, but in the Convention Center, things were warming up with lots of summery, warm paper collections.

Amy Tan:  The Amy Tan On A Whim collection featured adorable notebooks, puffy embellishments and patterned papers all with a tropical feel. Her paper flower backdrop was a frequent stop of Creativation selfies.



My Minds Eye: MME is a personal favorite of mine and their “Palm Beach” collection is probably why I love them so much! Flamingo paper, palm leaf notecards and foiled pineapples – there’s nothing NOT to love.



DecoArt: Even though they’re known for paints, DecoArt had several touches of paradise throughout their booth at Creativation. Their stencils featured plenty of tropical vibes. How beautiful is this tray created with a palm leaf stencil?


EchoPark: If you’re yearning for summertime, take a peek at the Echo Park “Summer Dreams” Collection. Popsicles, bikinis and of course a few flip flops complete this perfect theme.



Silhouette: The folks at Silhouette paid special homage to tropical temps with a full display featuring flamingos and the CUTEST donuts-turned-pineapples.


Sweet SugarBelle: Who knew that cookie decorating could be so mesmerizing! I spent more than a few minutes at the Sweet SugarBelle booth, where she decorated cookies, showing up how a candy corn cookie can also be decorated to look like a watermelon! Genius and perfect for any time of year – including summertime.



I’m sure it comes as no surprise that planners were in attendance at this year’s Creativation Show. Several companies launched planner dies, papers and tools. Let’s take a look! Me and My Big Ideas: This company is known for creating beautiful, practical calendars with their expandable disc-bound system. This year they showcased their wide selection of planner stickers, Pocket Pages, die cuts and more!


We R Memory Keepers: There’s a new tool in town for all your planner lovers! The We R Memory Keepers Planner Punch Board let’s you easily create custom planner pages and inserts with your favorite papers. Punch holes for any size or style of planner up to 12 inches, including basic holes, spiral bound, and disc bound.


Sizzix: With coloring stickers, Thinlets dies and more, Sizzix added some great products to the world of planner-ing (is that even a word?!)


Webster’s Pages: If you are a planner and a lover of bright, bold colors, Webster’s Pages has everything you need! They’re lineup of colorful spiral planners stopped me right in my tracks! I think I want the teal and pink floral pattern! Or maybe the bright yellow? What about you?



For the Love of Layering

And last but not least is a trend that took me a bit my surprise: layering stamps! Several companies launched stamps that layer beautifully to create dimensional images without adding any bulk to your cards. Let’s take a peek at two of my favorites!

Hero Arts: I wish you could have seen these in person! They are amazing…but I must say, the croissant has a special place in my carb-loving heart! With these stamps, you can add such “WOW” to your paper crafting and they’ve done all the hard work for you. All you have to do is stamp.


Waffle Flower: When it comes to layering stamps, I was most impressed by the incredible “marble” stamp set offered by Waffle Flower Stamps. With it you can create the look of marbling on your card! So smart!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour through a few of the trends at Creativation 2017. Which trend is your favorite?!

#makeitwithMichaels at Creativation!

Michaels is proud to be a sponsor of the 2017 Creativation Show. As a company rooted in the spirit of creativity and making, we are excited to bring that energy to Phoenix this weekend! Through a variety of fun and engaging events you’ll find numerous ways to #makeitwithMichaels. The trade show floor, will host The Michaels bookstore sponsored by our friends at Baker and Taylor. Drop by for a chance to join (and meet!) some of your favorite artists. Project sheets will be available for guest to take away all the exciting tips and tricks they hear.

On Sunday evening, The After Party at The Duce, is sponsored by Michaels and is not to be missed! The night will be full of creativity and innovation, as the top looks from the fashion fusion collaboration are showcased! Guests will be able to use the evening to mix, mingle and make. The night will be a great time to network, find inspiration, and of course-kick back and have a little fun J

We hope you’re ready to enjoy the weekend and unleash your inner maker!

Your Crafting Corner: Work Your Magic

This is a guest post by Office Depot.

When you start a craft project, working in a bright organized space is the key to success. The space needs to be organized, the atmosphere must evoke creativity, and your supplies have to be within arm’s reach. If any of these scenarios are off, then your work – and your sanity – suffer. Finding a solution to simplify your space can seem impossible.

Luckily, Office Depot has picked the best craft room organization products to store your tools, papers, beads and any accessories in between. Improve the flow of your space with collapsible boxes that stack and slide under your desk, or brighten your area with clamp-on lamps that can move to any spot that needs extra illumination. Whether you need to stock up on general craft supplies or are looking for a specific type of storage cabinet, this selection will do the trick when it comes to sparking your creativity.

It’s important to remember that everything has its place when trying to keep chaos at bay. Keeping your workspace tidy should be a breeze once you’ve incorporated some of Office Depot’s clever organization solutions. Find just what you need to help keep unruliness to a minimum and productivity to a maximum.

Who says your organizational solutions and desk accessories have to be boring? Liven up a drab workspace with stylish accents that also serve a purpose. Create a unique theme with coordinating pieces or choose colors and elements that complement your existing décor.

Best of all as a CHA member you can take advantage of the newly launch Office Depot member benefits program.  You will receive 10% off the everyday web price on everything business needs, from must-have crafting and office supplies including ink, to printing services that will help build your brand.  Office Depot has category experts and dedicated account managers that will provide you with personalized service.

For more information, visit the Office Depot Booth #2539 at the CHA’s 2017 Show or take advantage of your member savings at

Top 5 things you need to know before you go to Creativation

This is a guest post by Angel Hickman Peterson of Fleece Fun and DIY Video for Bloggers


Whether you’re a seasoned  CHA member or a newbie who’s just barely registered this year will be everyone’s first time at Creativation!  I’ve put together a few tips ( many I wish I knew the first time I went) to make your trip to Creativation enjoyable and profitable!


Tip ! – Download the Creativation app

This app is key to having a good experience.  Not only does this app contain the show’s schedule, and list of vendors, but it also has maps, social media tracking, and downloads for courses and classes.  Once you input your schedule information it will also tell you what classes and events you have coming up.


Tip # 2 – Pack comfortable shoes

Don’t get me wrong I love trading in my daily yoga pants for my convention skirts and jewelry – but leave the heels at home.  The showroom is BIG and you’ll be on your feet for a large chunk of the day.  Wear shoes that will work for you and invest in some gel inserts.  Upside – you’ll easily make your daily steps goal on your Fitbit.


Tip #3 – Bring Business Cards

Whether you’re a blogger or the head of a major company business cards are the life blood of networking. While this process might seem antiquated – it still works!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with someone that I wanted to connect with after the show asked for their card only to be met with a sheepish smile and excuse that they didn’t have a card.  “They didn’t arrive in time for the show… etc.”.  To be honest that slip of paper with your contact information will get lost in the bottom of my purse.  There are lots of overnight business card services – it’s worth the cost so you don’t miss out on networking opportunities.  Have a way for people to contact you – put it on a card.

Bonus tip:  I like to carry small post its and write a few notes about the person and what we talked about and stick it to the card so I can remember them later.


Tip# 4 – Have proper luggage

This is not a “carry on only” trip.  There are two reasons for this: First, you’re going to be taking home samples, lots of samples and you will need a place to put them.  Make sure you have ample space in your luggage for these. Second crafting samples don’t always agree with the TSA.  And while it’s technically legal to carry 30 metal crochet hooks in you carry on it might raise a few eyebrows (and red flags).  It’s just better to keep crafting supplies in a checked bag.  It will make your (and the TSA agents’) life easier.

When I first went to the CHA mega show I noticed while I was waiting for the exhibit hall to open that most of the people had a rolling bag.  I confess that I thought it was strange (and a little dorky).  After about 2 hours of walking the hall with my large sample filled bag digging into my shoulder, I realized the genius (and un-dorkiness) of having a rolling bag to put everything in.  It’s worth having a rolling bag to save your shoulders.


Tip #5 – Smile and say hello

I’m an introvert.  I make a concerted effort to smile and talk to people.  It’s amazing you can meet at Creativation.  It’s great to meet other creatives who have a passion for making amazing art, crafts and general awesomeness.  I think this is the most important tip out of all of them.  A smile and friendly attitude can open doors and opportunities.

NEW Deco Foil Color line, Transfer Sheets and Mixed Media Products at Therm O Web Booth #513!

Winter CHA Creativation Show is just around the corner…in fact just a few short days away in sunny Phoenix Arizona. Our team is excited to bring you brand new, innovative products that will have you thinking outside the box!

Our Deco Foil™ product line has been a success with our consumers and retailers and with that success we continue to build and grow the line. This year we’re pleased to announce 5 NEW colors to the Deco Foil™ color line. Introducing: (from left to right)

Amber, Emerald, Amethyst and Lapis Watercolors along with Summer Rainbow which is a beautiful ombre transfer foil.


With the addition of these 5 new colors that brings the total up to 31 amazing choices of Deco Foil™ Transfer Sheets. Our Transfer Sheets work beautiful with our core adhesive products: Deco Foil™ Liquid Adhesive, Deco Foil™ Foam Sheets, Deco Foil™ Hot Melt Sheets, Deco Foil™ PeelnStick Toner Sheets, Deco Foil™ Toner Sheets, Deco Foil™ Fusible Spray and our Deco Foil™ Adhesive Pen! Here are some examples of the beautiful projects you can make for both paper and fabric with our Deco Foil™ Products!


aqua canvas

Mixed Media Elephant pillow

In addition to our Deco Foil™ we have some exciting new products for Mixed Media! We’re thrilled to introduce our new iCraft® Mixed Media Adhesive and iCraft® Mixed Media Sheets available in Heavy and Lite.


Our Mixed Media Adhesive is the perfect liquid adhesive to keep on hand for all types of projects including paper, metal and fabric. Our Mixed Media sheets add a unique and dimensional texture to projects. With unlimited options of how you can work with them from stamping, inks, sprays, paints….and our light sheets can be torn for a unique look! Here’s some ideas for what you can make with these new products!

SPC Canvas details 1

Amazing Mixed Media Canvas using our NEW Heavy and Lite Sheets along with Summer Rainbow Deco Foil.

Fall Mixed Media Leaf Wreath by Audrey Yeager



Those leaves are diecut from our Mixed Media Sheets then painted and foiled!


Stunning flowers created from our Mixed Media Sheets by Audrey Pettit!

This year ThermOWeb is proud to be a sponsor for the Fashion Fusion Collaborative Challenge! We’ve joined up with fellow companies at CHA for the chance to have designers work with some of our favorite products. The participants will pair up and create either a top or an a-line skirt using a variety of products provided by the sponsors, along with an accessory. Therm O Web will be providing our Liquid Fabric Fuse™ along with our Deco Foil™ Liquid Adhesive and Transfer Sheets!

Our Liquid Fabric Fuse™ is created specifically for fashion eliminating any sewing or ironing! Here’s a video to learn more about our Fabric Fuse™ Liquid Adhesive!

blog-header-new-logo-1Be sure to stop by our Booth #513 at the show to see all of our NEWEST products! For more information about all of our products, visit us online at Visit our blog for projects, tutorials and step by step instructions on how to use our products! And be sure to sign up for our newsletter to keep updated on what’s happening at Therm O Web!

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

Jo-Ann Sponsors Creativation Celebration and much more!


The 2017 Creativation Celebration sponsored by Jo-Ann Stores takes place on Saturday, January 21. Look forward to networking with creative industry professionals, witnessing recognition of industry veterans and award recipients all for a great cause — benefitting schools and students through The Kids in Need Foundation.

Join us Monday, January 23 for The Ultimate Pitch. Aspiring innovators will pitch their product to seasoned leaders in the creative industry for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize and CHA’s Top Creative Innovation of 2017 honor. CHA Board Officer and Jo-Ann Stores’ Senior Vice President of Marketing and Omni-Channel, Chris DiTullio, will serve as a judge.

For CHA exhibitors and attendees interested in creative inspiration all year-round, visit for projects with detailed how-to’s, and our company blog, The Creative Spark, which showcases trending projects covering sewing, fashion, food crafting, home décor, party planning and more.

Share your projects with us on social by using our hashtag, #handmadewithjoann