Tag Archives | CHA

CHA rebrands as Association for Creative Industries

The Craft & Hobby Association announced this week at the Creativation 2017 Conference & Trade Show that it is rebranding as the Association for Creative Industries, effective immediately.

Association for Creative Industries logo

The rebranding to AFCI (as the Association for Creative Industries will largely be known) was created over the past year by a task force consisting of members of the Association’s Board of Directors and the assistance of consultants from Verse Group, a strategic research and creative branding firm. In addition to the new name, the task force created a new vision and future plan for the Association that was the result of research, interviews, and membership surveys.

“Our rebranding coincides with our vision of a healthy, vibrant and innovative community that enriches people’s lives through crafting and other creative activities,” says Mark Hill, Chief Executive Officer and President, AFCI. “Our new name is the beginning of AFCI serving as the leading advocate, information resource, research partner, and friend for our thousands of global member companies. It was intentional for our new name to incorporate ‘For’ because everything we do and strive for is FOR our members.”

The first visible signs of the new AFCI branding are the Association’s logo and new website. The colorful logo is described in the announcement as “based on the role of AFCI as the heart of creativity”, and incorporates the same marbled rainbow of color as the recently unveiled Creativation logo.

The Craft & Hobby Association has increasingly struggled to find membership, along with exhibitors and attendees for its shows, since the decline of the papercrafts bubble in recent years. Removing the outdated “hobby” (which is a relic of the long ago time that model cars and other such items were seen at the show) from the Association’s name, and replacing “craft” with the broader “Creative Industries” is an attempt for AFCI to claim craft segments such as sewing and fine art under its tent. How much interest these industry segments, which already have their own dedicated associations and events, will show in the newly incarnated Association for Creative Industries is yet to be seen. Several major sewing companies, such as Coats & Clark and Prym Dritz, did exhibit at Creativation 2017.


Update | 11.12.2012

Wow, the news has been coming fast and furious this past week! We’ve got a little bit of everything – including new products, a big sale, a design team call, and a big industry retirement – to talk about.

(And did you notice the new name? Noteworthy is now “Update”!)

In case you missed our big announcement last week, Nally Studios is the new owner of Craft Critique, the craft industry’s leading product review website. We have exciting plans for the website and hope that both existing Craft Critique readers and our Scrapbook Update audience will like what they see as we grow the site.

Digital diva Renee Pearson is having a creative team call for 2013 for her online education website. Creative team members will gain free access to classes and workshops, and participate in creating layouts, photographs and projects to be used as class samples. They will also be expected to take part in promotional activities via blogs, social media and other venues. Deadline for applications is November 20th. Continue Reading →


CHA Announces Selection of New CEO

The Craft & Hobby Association has announced the selection of a new CEO to replace Steve Berger, who departed in May 2011 in the middle of his contract. Berger had been CHA’s top executive since 2003. Tony Lee, CHA’s Vice President of Meetings & Expositions, has been serving as interim CEO during the search for a permanent replacement for Berger.

The association’s new President & CEO is Andrej Suskavcevic (Shoosh-kav-chev-itch), who had previously been the CEO of the Commercial Finance Association since 2007. His resume also includes a position as Vice President of Operations at Financial Executives International, and serving as Chief Operating Officer at Zepter International, an international cookware and tabletop company.

Suskavcevic is a Certified Association Executive, and a member of the American Society of Association Executives. His educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in finance from Montclair University and a master’s of business administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Continue Reading →


Big CHA Releases, Small Budget: What To Do?

Twice a year the scrapbook industry reveals it’s latest and greatest. CHA is not only a huge event for buyers and manufacturers, but those of us watching from home get to see all kinds of peeks into what is coming to stores in the near future. Seeing all of the sparkly new scrapbook supplies through blogs and twitter, not to mention video tours of booths from the show floor, can be overwhelming – both visually and to my budget! How is a crafter on a budget to choose without having to take a loan? Today I have some tips and tricks that I utilize, and that I hope you’ll find useful.

By taking some time to look around and see what is coming, and what is available, from various manufacturers and educating yourself on what your choices are, it becomes easier to resist impulse spending. Knowledge is power – and often by looking around you’ll find lines that complement each other, or are very similar, and products that truly are your “must have” items.

Here are my six rules for scrapbook supply shopping on a budget:

Rule #1: Be picky. Perhaps this sounds too simple – but when you find yourself in love with a particular line of products, it’s often the impulse to buy one of each. Instead, stop and pick no more than 2- 3 items from that given brand or line. Pick your absolute favorites that will be most useful rather than binging on any one brand or line.

Rule #2: Watch for the great bargains. The above sticker sheets from Tim Holtz and The Girls’ Paperie have an MSRP of $4.99 for seven sheets of stickers. Not only that – but the sticker designs showcase many of the best design elements from the lines so that you get a lot of value (not to mention a ‘sample’ of the entire lines) for a great price.

Rule #3: Beware of patterned paper. While seemingly inexpensive, sheets of patterned paper can add up quickly. Often new papers, while lovely, can be substituted out with older versions of similar designs. This especially goes for ledger, stripes, dots, gingham, and other classic designs. Choose carefully, and keep your existing stash and your personal creative habits in mind.

Rule #4: Invest in classics. Cardstock is a great example, or ink pads, or useful stamps or basic punches. When a product comes out that is clearly going to last a long time and be a timeless classic in your stash – it’s worth spending money on.

Rule #5: Keep an eye out for new designs that will blend nicely with your existing stash. Studio Calico (pictured above) has some items this release that I know already will work well with other brands and lines I want to work with. When choosing items, I try to be aware of what I already have, and what will complement (vs repeat) what I already have on-hand.

Rule #6: Beware of repeats! There were several lines at this CHA that reminded me a lot of lines from a few years ago. Before you invest in new stuff, check out your own stash to make sure you’re not causing history to repeat itself.

By putting thought into your purchases, and carefully selecting the few items that you love the most, you can infuse the latest and greatest into your craft projects while using up what you already have in your existing stash of supplies.

[Disclaimer: May Flaum has done design work for both Tim Holtz and The Girls’ Paperie.]


Organization: Digital Totes

Remember when I said that scrapbooking wasn’t really tote-able anymore? Oops, I meant paper scrapbooking wasn’t really tote-able anymore. But there’s another kind of scrapbooking that is still completely portable for a large portion of its practitioners: digital scrapbooking. And I’ve got the bags to prove it.

If you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got portable digital scrapbooking. The question is, how do you haul it with you? And what accessories do you need to take along? I’ll tell you what I use to haul my digital creative tools.

First, let’s talk about the all-important tote. I have several for my MacBook. (I actually own more camera and computer bags than I own shoes. Seriously.) Which bag I use depends on the situation.

My workhorse bag is by geek favorite Timbuk2. The San Francisco-based company makes premium bags that are functional and durable. Mine is a discontinued model called the Hacker, a vertical messenger bag which features tuck-away backpack straps as well as a messenger-style shoulder strap. It is very similar to the Blogger bag (the major difference was the backpack straps) that the company still offers, although the Hacker doesn’t have the TSA-compliant feature that version 2 of the Blogger has. The Blogger is available in several different colors. List price for it is $110 but it’s available for as little as $88 on depending on the color.

This bag has some features that I really like. It is very weatherproof (ever seen what a summer rain storm looks like in Florida?) when it is wet outside. There are lots of small pockets to corral my various small items like card readers and earbuds. And the laptop compartment is incredibly well cushioned and lined in lush, sturdy corduroy to protect my machine.

(Note for trade show attendees: I also have Timbuk2’s Hidden Tote, a zip-away tote that is made from fabric created from recycled plastic bottles. It is fabulous for throwing in my trade show roller bag and using for carrying the overflow of catalogs and handouts that I pick up over the course of the day.)

As much as I love my Hacker, however, it isn’t the perfect bag to take everywhere with me. When I fly, I am usually carrying both my dSLR camera and my laptop. There are advantages to being able to keep them with me in the same bag, so I have another bag  for my laptop when I fly: the Kata KT DR-467.

This bag is great because it keeps all my gear together but still fits under most airline seats, and gives me a little extra room for in-flight comforts. (When I don’t have my laptop with me, I frequently use this bag for hauling my camera gear on theme park day trips. The empty laptop compartment can hold souvenirs such as t-shirts or spare supplies for my daughter. It also comes with a foul weather cover in case we get caught outside in a shower.) The updated version of the bag (the Kata DR-467i Digital Rucksack) has a feature I really like – a tripod attachment – and sells for $89.90 on Amazon.

And of course, if you’ve ever seen me at CHA you know I also have a rolling bag for my laptop as well. Currently I’m using a Swiss Gear one that is styled like a catalog case. It would make a great companion if I wanted to attend a crop hybrid-style, with some digital and some paper gear.

All of these bags are functional, but they look, well, functional. So for the rare occasion when looks really do count, I have a leather bag that I picked up at an outlet that isn’t very practical but carries my laptop and lets me look good doing it. Sometimes we must suffer for fashion, right?

What goes in these bags is surprisingly minimal, at least as it relates to my creative pursuits. I have a Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger, a Sandisk MobileMate SD Plus USB Card Reader, and my power cord. I don’t carry a mouse, or other external devices. Occasionally I carry a Western Digital My Passport external hard drive for back-up purposes. I know some serious users will carry a small tablet device (you can even buy a case for some of the smaller Wacom ones). But for me I just stick to a trackpad when I  am on the go (and most of the time at home too). It keeps things simpler.

Using this system of bags keeps me pretty well equipped to be creative digitally anytime, any place!


May’s Top Tips for Making The Most of CHA

I’ve been working in the craft industry for a number of years now, and I have attended trade shows as a buyer, an independent designer, and an exhibitor. Now I will attend as a reporter for Scrapbook Update. I have booked my flight and hotel, so now it’s time to get serious about planning my time in Anaheim. Today I’d like to share some of my tips for attending the show and preparing for it in advance. I’m sharing tips that should work for you no matter what capacity you’re going in – or how long you’ll be there.

Starting now:

  • Schedule. If appropriate e-mail people or companies pre-show (3-5 weeks prior). Try to set appointments, make contact with people you know, and figure out who you want or need to see at the show.
  • Style. Work out your outfits now. Comfortable pants or a long skirt or dress that can hold up to standing, bending, and squatting for eight plus hours paired with a top that you don’t have to adjust all the time is key. The perfect top is one that’s flattering but also won’t cause you to be uncomfortable, flash people, or give you issues all day long. I suggest bending and squatting in front of a full length mirror before packing any clothes – you might get some surprises about how revealing your outfit might end up being!
  • Tote. Figure out a good bag. Will you be dragging pounds of catalogs around, or just some business cards and not much else? Will you be storing your bag and working a booth? What you do and what you’ll pick up needs to figure into your choice of bag. From a big rolling tote to a shoulder bag to a backpack, there are plenty of options. Just remember you will be hauling it around all day long and you should be able to fit a 12 x 12 piece of paper inside (just in case you receive any samples).
  • Research. Surf the internet. See those sneak peeks, find out what everyone is excited about, figure out don’t-miss spots on the show floor. You can also find out when your favorite personalities will be doing make & takes or demos on the show floor.
  • Organize. Make some lists. If you have friends you want to meet up with, be sure and get their cell phone #’s. Write your contact names & booth information down, make sure to list out all the ‘must sees’ on your list.
  • Supplies. Have your supplies in order now. Business cards, order forms, programming numbers into your cell phone, printing hotel & flight info, and so much more can be done right now and you’ll avoid that last minute rush.
  • Tech. Don’t forget to pack your camera, charger, phone charger, and other electronic gizmos!
  • Space. Pack light. Odds are you’ll be coming home with more stuff than you brought, so keep space in your suitcase.

On the Show Floor:

  • Photos. Ask before you start snapping photos. Most companies are ok with it, but show rules require you to ask permission to photograph product or samples.
  • Business Cards. When you give out a business card… try to remember to get one from the other person.
  • Explore. Be open to companies you hadn’t considered before. You never know what manufacturer is going to be great and which one won’t.
  • Business. Think big, but accept small opportunities. Getting your foot in the door is a whole lot better than nothing.
  • Purpose. Never forget that manufacturers are there to show off their wares and make sales. If you’re not a buyer then be aware of priorities and don’t monopolize an exhibitor’s time or keep them from a customer.
  • Solo. If you are trying to make new contacts and get new work walk the floor alone, or with only one other person. While being in a group is fun, not much actual work will be done.
  • Service. If you have a BAD product (especially with you at the show) go and tell the company. If they are totally off in their customer service and don’t apologize or offer a replacement on the spot, then go tell their competitor. You’ll know a company to avoid in the future, make a new contact, and might even get an (improved) replacement.
  • Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Forget your shyness and just talk to everyone.
  • Be Social. To avoid coming home with major regrets… see above. (Talk!)  Also don’t forget to take photos with the craft personalities and friends you get to visit with.
  • Write. TAKE NOTES!!! Write down everything that you can. Take 1-2 breaks a day to sit, have a drink, and write. You won’t remember as much as you think you will. Seriously.

For YOU:

  • Drink. Stay hydrated. You’ll feel more energized, look better, not get headaches as easily, and be in a better mood overall. Drink up!
  • Hide. Bring under-eye concealer and Clear-Eyes or a similar solution for your eyes. Bloodshot eyes with bags under them due to lack of sleep is not a good look.
  • Hiking. Wear shoes suited for standing 8 hours or more. Even if you have the best Nikes out there, your feet are going to be tired. Think about that before you go for high heel boots or pointy toe cute shoes.
  • Creative Wear. Homemade accessories rock. Make yourself a necklace, a hair clip, or a flower top so you don’t lose your pen – anything! This is a craft trade show – show off your creativity! (If you are an aspiring designer this is an especially strong suggestion for you.)
  • Nutrition. Bring in snacks and bottles of water (or your preferred beverage). Being able to down a Fiber 1 bar, eat an apple, or suck on a jolly rancher is quick and much cheaper than the snack bar.
  • Moisture. Chapstick and moisturizer are both good ideas. There is just something about a convention center that’s dehydrating! Be sure to be good to your skin and bring these life savers.

After the show:

  • Manners. Pen some thank you notes if appropriate to anyone who went above and beyond.
  • Do it. Follow up if you said you would. Nothing worse than making a ‘show floor promise’ and not coming through for the person or company you said you’d do something for.
  • Contact. E-mail or stay in touch with new friends or contacts. Forward photos as promised and get to be even better friends – all the better to have more fun at the next show!
  • Journal. On the trip home take time to write down any more notes or ‘don’t want to forget’ items in your CHA journal. It’s a great way to keep things in your mind as well as fun to look back at years down the road.

Above all, my number one tip for you is this: You never know who’s listening. The hotel lobby, Starbucks, café, elevator, even the airport is filled with people in the craft industry. Before you start in on a hot gossip session or spill some serious dirt make sure you are truly alone and in private. That middle-aged man who doesn’t seem like anybody who’d care might be an executive, a husband, or an industry person you don’t recognize. That elderly woman could be somebody’s mother or… you get the drift. Say only things that you’d be OK with everyone knowing if you’re not in the privacy of your car or room.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips – and if you have some to add please feel free to do so by adding a comment. Also if you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them here in the comments.