Summer Trends Report


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

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

CHIPBOARD

Submitted by Candy Rosenberg, {a vintage girl}

Chipboard

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

‘CRAFT WORK’ LOOK

Submitted by Debra Quartermain, Debra Quartermain Design

Craft Work Look

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

PAINTED FLOWER POTS

Submitted by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Crafty Chica, LLC

Painted Flower Pots

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

EMBROIDERY HOOPS

Submitted by Lisa Kettell, www.lisakettell.com

Embroidery Hoops.jpeg

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

RAINBOWS

Submitted by Lisa Kettell, www.lisakettell.com

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

NARWHALS

Submitted by Lisa Kettell, www.lisakettell.com

Narwhals

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

ORANGE

Submitted by Lisa Kettell, www.lisakettell.com

Orange.jpeg

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

Meet AFCI’s New Executive Director


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – URSULA MORGAN


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEET THE AFCI STAFF – TARA GRAY


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

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

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

Purse

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

headdress.jpeg

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

Plungers

Tara can be reached at tgray@afci.global or 312-637-5358.

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – LAWRENCE HOFFMAN


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

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

Lawrence_Hoffman_Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOP 4_REVISED

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

(1)    REWARDING EXPERIENCE

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

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

(2)    NETWORKING

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

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

(3)    NEW OPPORTUNITIES

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

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

(4)    LIMITED TIME COMMITMENT

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

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

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

How to Measure ROI in Social Media


By Leanne Pressly, Stitchcraft Marketing

MEASURING ROI IN SOCIAL MEDIA

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

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

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

Step One: What Are Your Goals?

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

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

Step Two: Learn How to Analyze Your Numbers

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

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

Step Three: Determine Your Investment

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

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

Step Four: Calculate Your Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line: Know Your Numbers

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

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

Gear Up For Greatness! Make Art Your Business and Life


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

Carol Foldvary-Anderson / varyCarol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Creativity


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

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

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

AFFINITY

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

Affinity

EMOTIONS

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

EMOTIONS

VALUES

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

VALUES

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

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