Free your creativity with Brother. Just add imagination!


Sponsored post by Brother International Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to be a Successful Retailer in an Online World


Sponsored post by POSIM

How do you keep your physical store competitive in a digital world where so much commerce now happens online?

It can be quite simple. Brick and mortar stores need to look for online opportunities to expand their customer base. There are lots of free options available through the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few. Plus there are tons of tools out there to help, and it is not as intimidating as you might think. Dozens of companies are springing up all over the internet that can help you create ads, schedule them on a calendar and post them to the popular social media networks. These tools can greatly help you build the right size ads with the appropriate content that aligns with a specific network, and many offer free versions for the casual user who does not need a ton of analytics. This is perfect for beginners who want to get their feet wet without a significant commitment of time and money.

Email marketing is one of the most affordable online marketing tools. It gives you the ability to promote your brand, sell products, and increase sales. It even converts better than social media! According to a McKinsey & Co. survey, email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. POSIM’s Point-of-Sale integrates with MailChimp, a simple and intuitive email platform to keep your customers in the know. When companies like POSIM and MailChimp work together, it makes it easier than ever to reach out to customers with the latest deals, events, and news from your store. You can even set up focused marketing campaigns to your top customers by using POSIM’s best customer report. Plus, Mailchimp’s “Forever Free Plan” allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 sends per month and gives you access to most of the Mailchimp features all for free.

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Another great way to compete in an online world is through social media. Social selling is all about using social networks to build relationships and loyalty. These networks let you showcase your products using your style representing your brand and values. If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, set one up today. Pinterest can be one of the best ways of generating traffic and customers. According to the international brand and marketing firm, KANTAR | Milward Brown, “93% of Pinners have used Pinterest to plan for or make purchases.”

It is vital to understand your customers wants and needs and be able to adapt to them. Adapting to such changes could be the difference between a brick and mortar store failing or thriving. Kohl’s recently adapted by allowing Amazon purchases to be returned in stores and Nordstrom now offers a unique upscale shopping experience that includes tailoring and manicures all to expand their customer experience.

From online-only deals to the popularity of Cyber Monday eclipsing Black Friday, e-commerce is changing how retailers do business. POSIM’s fully integrated e-commerce solutions with Shopify, Zoey, and Magento give retailers more options to get their products to market quickly. After an online sale, information is updated automatically within POSIM creating a new invoice with the customer information, allowing you to easily fulfill the order.

These are just some examples of online marketing that is readily available right now. Once you see some success, you can expand your efforts, and the sky is the limit. New customers exist outside your local area, and the opportunity is waiting to bring your brick and mortar store into the world of online shopping. It is essential to partner with the right companies, ones that not only have great tools but are also invested in your success. The question remains, are you ready to take your physical store into the world of online?

Setting Clear Intentions


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT ME

Email: Art@varyCarol.com
Websites: http://www.varyCarol.com
http://www.MakeArtYourBusiness.com
http://www.OilPastelSmudge.com
http://www.Calligraphy-theLetteraryArts.com
Phone: 775.721.5338

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management Change for AFCI Headquarters


Note from Jim Thielen, Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact me directly at jp_thielen@yahoo.com.

Best regards,

jim

Jim Thielen

Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors

 

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


by Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing

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

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

Selling vs. Closing

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

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

Preparing to Sell Your Business

Get your financial house in order

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

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

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

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

Get an independent assessment of your company’s value

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

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

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

Assemble your team

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

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

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

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

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

Clean up Your Marketing

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

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

Identify Potential Buyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start Today

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

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

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

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


This is a sponsored post by Eclectic Products

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcing the New AFCI Board Officers


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

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Jim Thielen – Chairman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe McClain – Vice Chairman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bradley Beck – Secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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