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CHA Mega Show 2014 | A First Time Perspective

What was the CHA Mega Show 2014 in Anaheim, California like for a guy who is not a crafter? Amazing actually. Let me tell you my story.

First, in the briefest of autobiographies, my name is Mike Nally and I’ve been married to Scrapbook Update’s editor Nancy Nally for over 20 years. My career background is in business and technology. My creative background can most simply be described as “photographer and technology geek”.  The world of papers, adhesives, paints, and the like has always been a bit confusing and overwhelming for me.  But, now that I’m a full time member of the Nally Studios LLC team, we realized that I needed to increase my education about the space in which we do our work.  It was time for me to go to my first CHA Mega Show.

CHA Show Entrance SignI could probably write a book trying to describe all of the fantastic moments I experienced at the 2014 CHA Mega Show. But, before someone hits me with a “TL;DR” let me try keeping this article to the point by giving you some of the highlights.

Passionate People

I can’t begin to describe what an wonderful welcome I received time and again from the people I met while in California. The world of CHA is obviously a tightly knit family and I am humbled that I was so quickly welcomed into that family with warm handshakes, pats on the back, and a wonderful collection of hugs.

And the enthusiasm these same people feel for the craft and hobby space? Incredible is the only word that seems to fit.  There is a passion that I honestly have never seen from any other group of enthusiasts. Not only are they very proud of their contribution to the space with their various products and services but there is an undercurrent that their products and services are providing tools to create things that are important.  Crafting is more than a past-time. It is about building legacies and recording the “now” for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. It is about carving out small pieces of immortality. Does that sound over-the-top? It would have to me as well had I not experienced it myself.

Tim Holtz Little B DemonstrationAnd hard working? It seemed everyone – the attendees as well as the exhibitors – was in constant motion! To stop felt like a lost opportunity to see something incredible or to engage with someone amazing. It didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the energy myself. By the end of the week I was wonderfully exhausted along with everyone else.

CHA Registration Opening the CHA Show FloorCreative Diversity

I must admit, what I was expecting from the show was row after row of paper, adhesives, and embellishments. What I found instead was a creative diversity that was shocking and wonderful to discover.

Teresa Collins Samples Technique Tuesday SampleLion Brand SphynxDyan Reavely Art JournalPrima Marketing SampleAnd these pictures only scratch the surface of course. So many different ways of expressing yourself. It was overwhelming but I’m very energized to keep exploring all of the possibilities. I may not ever be a traditional scrapbooker or take up knitting but that hardly means that there isn’t room for me at the creative table.

The Size

Again, there is no way of truly describing just how large this show is. I’ve been to several huge industry trade shows for both the computer and automotive industries and this show floor was still amazing.  I did what I could to capture a few images to demonstrate the volume of exhibitors and products available to explore.  However, if you find these images at all impressive, take what you imagine they demonstrate, and multiply them by about ten and then you will be close to understanding just how many wonderful people and wonderful products are a part of the CHA Mega Show.

Ranger Booth Aerial 01Prima Booth AerialPlaid Booth AerialRanger Booth AerialTechnology

I was pleasantly surprised to see how technology was carving out (no pun intended) a place in the world of crafting. From complex cutting machines down to the re-imagining of classic tools, the space is welcoming the movement the rest of the world is caught up in when it comes to gadgets.  Okay, maybe “welcoming” is a bit generous. I did feel that many people are cautious when it comes to technology invading what they feel is a simpler space.  I get it. If I choose to put down my iPad or turn off my television to take some time to create in the physical world it seems counter-intuitive to turn on another gadget in order to do that. The key was balance. Show how your new tool, be it a pair of scissors or a 3D printer, fits into my creative process without causing me to lose my emotional connection to what I’m doing and we can talk. And a number of exhibitors were doing a great job of doing just that. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Silhouette MachineWe R Flower Punch BoardDistress Marker SpritzerFinal Thoughts

I could go on and on with this article. I never even got to how fantastic all of the educational classes were that I was able to attend. So many people in this space “get it” and know that education is what will help them accomplish their goals within the craft and hobby world. Be it just for fun or for business the educational opportunities are something I wish more attendees would take advantage of in the future.

Put simply, the craft and hobby space is alive and well and I couldn’t be happier to now be a small part of it. There is room for traditional crafters as well as people like me who are interested in pushing the envelope. What was most special for me was the energy I felt from nearly everyone I met. There is a true passion to see the craft and hobby space not just survive but to grow. That passion was seen no more clearly than from folks that work so hard to put this show on,  the executives and staff of the Craft and Hobby Association. A quick thank you to all of you as well.

Another fan boy is born right? Well, yes and no.  The space is far from perfect. Many are holding on too long to the past refusing to see that the industry needs to change and evolve. Others are moving too far away from the core in an effort to reinvent the space at the cost of losing its soul. But, then, when is anything this exciting and organic ever perfect?

If there are any specific questions I’ve left you with please feel free to put them in the comments below. I’d love to talk more about anything else you might be interested in that I may have glossed over or have missed in the interest of brevity.  Thank you for your time.

34 Responses to CHA Mega Show 2014 | A First Time Perspective

  1. Allison Pauls March 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    How does the industry need to change? Who is holding onto the past and why? I would like you to clarify those statements.

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      I think the one thing that stood out most for me was the number of companies that were holding on to the same sorts of products and techniques I first became aware of, in scrapbooking specifically, back in the late 1990′s.

      To be clear, there is nothing wrong with “traditional” techniques. Heck, painting on canvas certainly hasn’t changed much over the centuries has it? I was just caught a bit off guard that at a “new product” expo I didn’t see more companies trying to be innovative in a space that is increasingly being eroded by folks thinking Instagram and Facebook is the place to share their photography with friends and family.

      • Allison Pauls March 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

        Excellent point..it is a changing digital world. I am heavy into cardmaking at my store, and with Canada Post jacking up postal rates over 30% soon, that will be affected. We tend to be very creative people, not always tech savvy.
        Thanks for your reply.

  2. keely March 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    Great article Mike. I enjoyed reading your perspective!!

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks keely! I’m not much of a writer but with Nancy’s help with editing I hope I managed to bring something interesting to the table.

  3. Sandi March 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Wonderful article. I loved hearing your perspective on Cha and the industry. I do hope we will hear a lot more from you! Of course I knew right from the beginning I would enjoy it because anyone Nancy loves we would love also.:)

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      Awww…. so sweet! Thanks for the support Sandi!

  4. Janine Rudolph March 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful photography here. This also was a joy to read. You were observant, upbeat and not afraid to give your opinion. Nancy has a keeper. Write more; take more pictures! I will keep reading.

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Wow! Thanks Janine. You just made a long-time photographer very happy!

  5. Bethany March 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I’m very impressed (and that is not easy to do). You brought such a fresh perspective to CHA. I look forward to hearing more of your ideas and insights of the Scrapbook Industry.

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

      I have so much more to learn but what a great group of people to learn from! Thanks for your kind words.

  6. Tanya March 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Enjoyed reading your story. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and feelings with us. Very good read, indeed.

  7. Debra March 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article – your writing, photography and perspective. Looking forward to hearing more from you soon!

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words Debra!

  8. Dale from Western Australia March 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this. I wonder if I took my hubby along to a Show if he would feel similar. Perhaps not but your view was interesting and your article enjoyable to read. Wish I could go to CHA (with a side stay at Disney).

    • Mike Nally March 10, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      It was a wonderful experience even as the “hubby” along for the ride. And we did manage to sneak in an afternoon at Disney. :)

  9. Jennifer Rogers March 11, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Hi, Mike. I feel like you have been part of the team since the year you did Tim’s tags at the kitchen table with Nancy! Now that it is official- great perspective you shared. I found myself nodding at the wrap-up sentences- evolution vs losing soul… spot on!

    • Mike Nally March 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks Jennifer. We had a great time with those tags. I wonder if it might be time for a rematch? ;)

  10. gabmcann March 11, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    Excellent article Mike – I loved reading your perspective

    • Mike Nally March 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Thanks! It was just such a positive week I wanted to share.

  11. LindaBabe March 11, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Speaking of Mike’s version of Tim’s Tags, I hope we see something like that again! The creative differences between you was quite inspiring.

    Good article!

    • Mike Nally March 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      My real niche is digital to be honest. I find it very frustrating to be creative without an “undo” button. :) Maybe a digital vs paper matchup? Hmmm…

  12. Karenliz March 11, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Wonderful article! I love your perspective. I hope to read more articles from you

  13. KIZER & BENDER March 11, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Well done! Welcome to the family!
    Georganne & Rich

  14. Sharon March 11, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Mike, can you list your top 3 examples of ” moving too far away from the core” and top 3 “holding on too long to the past”?

    • Mike Nally March 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      Hmmm… if I thought I was more qualified I might go there but the comment about legacy products was more of a gut feeling than anything so detailed.

  15. Cindy deRosier March 11, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this. I love the fresh perspective and you brought up some excellent points.

    • Mike Nally March 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      Thanks Cindy. Hopefully Nancy will let me write more in the future? ;)

  16. Candyce March 12, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    I was looking forward to your answer to Sharon’s question. You talked briefly about companies that aren’t bringing out anything new when you answered Allison’s question, but I, like Sharon, am interested in what you consider going “too far”.

  17. michelle March 12, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Thank you for writing about CHA. I appreciate your coverage and the photos. Michelle t

  18. deb June 27, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    I am so glad I saw this article Mike. Your insight was very helpful since it was your first CHA. I’ve often wonder what it would be like to be there for the first time….how open this group is to newbies.
    I was also thrilled to see the article because since Nancy left PRT I’ve lost track of “things”, so now I know your hard work paid off, and you’re working hard again with a partner I think very highly of !!! Nancy has taught me so much about the industry … I have no idea where I could have gotten this help elsewhere.
    Last thought since you love computer work…. a Mike’s video entitled “lets go digital” for newbies would be great. Then a series of videos on “fixing that picture you love so much” on your choice of software (but, remember we crafters are all so broke from our hobby we need an inexpensive tool if thats possible when talking about software) would be just wonderful as well. Mike’s photo equipment review is also need. I was looking at video cameras recently, and heck I don’t even know where to begin to compare one camera over another, or what the info given about each camera means. Same thing with cell phones cameras….how do I know how good the camera on the phone is?….its important to us now that so many of our photos are taken with our phones.

    “in the interest of brevity” LOL, I’m so windy it’s awful, but I’ll shut up now..big hugs, deb in Iowa

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