I’m writing this post on the plane flying from Los Angeles back to Boston after a weekend spent at Craftcation. This is the first conference I’ve attended that’s related to the work I do now. It was a sacrifice for my family for me to leave for four days and I want to first say thank you to Charlie for taking off work and to Katie, a student at Wellesley College, for helping him wrangle our kids and cover for me while I was on the other side of the country.
For the four days of this trip I rediscovered what it is to just be myself. I made decisions about food and time and comfort with only my own desire to guide me. I reconnected with myself as an individual. I also discovered, that I have a new career. I’m a professional with a job. I knew that, but it was reflected back to me in a really powerful way that made me feel strong.
Delilah and Nicole organize Craftcation so that it feels both handmade and professional at the same time. There’s washi tape decorating the walls, and yarn-wrapped driftwood on the tables, and a gorgeous pop-up shop stocked with indie-made goods. There’s a turquoise VW bus to shuttle you around downtown Ventura and a podcasting booth decked out in rainbow streamers and pompoms.
But there’s also 90 workshops, an easy-to-understand program showing you where to go when, badges, and water for all the presenters, and great food. They let me have my own room where I took a bath every night and had a view of the Pacific.
Thursday night I walked to the opening dinner with Nancy Soriano who told me about the work she did to infuse handmade into Country Living. (Do you remember those years when Country Living was amazing? That was Nancy.) We sat with Kaari from French General and Cathy Callahan (whom I wrote about when she stopped being Kathy of California). Determined to be confident and outgoing I walked up to Megan Auman and introduced myself and she was lovely.
I went running on a path along the beach and watched the sun rise over the Pacific both mornings. Guys pedaled past me in wet suits with surfboards strapped to their bikes.
Friday morning I was invited to a breakfast hosted by CreativeLive and sat next to Amy Tan(gerine) and a lovely quilter whose name I wish I remembered. The rest of Friday and all of Saturday was intense. I sat on three panels and taught a class and allowed myself to be scheduled for way too many office hours even though every one of these things was wonderful. I didn’t eat lunch.
The main thing was that my class went well. I explained to a crowded room how to make an email newsletter that they would love to send, their subscribers would love to receive, and would be the best thing to grow their business. They listened and ask great questions. My slide deck worked. Three people told me that it was the best class they took all weekend and that felt incredible. And Diana Fayt came up to say hi afterward.
It was really weird to be on stage. I kept thinking, “Why am I up here?”
During office hours I met Pippa who has long gray braids wrapped around her head and brought impeccably sewn mohair mice to show me. She said, “What I’ve learned from your blog has been life-changing. Whenever you’re feeling down or unmotivated picture me and know that what you’re doing matters.” That was worth the trip in and of itself.
I met Emily McDowell who was wearing turquoise hoop earrings and is very tall. On a panel she talked about having faith that you’ll always be able to develop more ideas and being afraid that if for some reason you can’t then you’re whole thing will end and I nodded my head vigorously. I sat on a couch and made Blair Stocker tell me how she approaches her teenage daughter’s Instagram account. “Take the phone away at 9pm. No technology upstairs. Don’t read their texts.” As a mom of a soon-to-be 6th grader this advice was exactly what I needed.
I stayed up way too late Friday night, and even later Saturday night, talking and walking along the boardwalk with Tara Swiger, Kim Werker, and Lauren Venell. They explained Knitty to me and Cooperative Press. We talked about making plans for our businesses if we should die and we made up a ridicoulous concept for a craft podcast that I should host that made us laugh like crazy.
In the rainbow podcasting booth I recorded a show with Deborah Balmuth, the publisher of Storey. She’s down-to-earth and smart and has incredible institutional memory of the way craft publishing has changed over the last 15 years. A real sound guy named Mike who had a mixer recorded the audio! I’ll air the show on April 20.
On the flight I read Amy Poehler’s book and laughed and cried the whole time. It was the perfect accompaniment.
One of my goals for 2015 was to attend a conference or a trade show. Craftcation was the perfect choice. I texted my husband (from the bathroom because that was the only place I could be where I didn’t see someone I should be talking to). “Everyone is here,” I wrote. “It’s just amazing.”