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.
Little hula dancers who performed for us at the opening dinner.
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.”
Allison Hoffman says
That sounds incredible! I would love to go to this someday. I ‘m glad you did so well and had fun too!
You would love it, Allison. Maybe you could teach, too? Or at least do some signings. This is totally your crowd.
Great recap. And so nice finally meeting you in person. Wish we had more time to chat! I definitely feel recharged from this weekend.
Great to meet you, too, Christina!
Seeing everyone’s Instagram photos really made me wish I was there! It seems like such an amazing and enriching experience! I hope to get the opportunity to attend one year, until then I will continue to read wonderful write ups like this!
I’ve watched so many conferences and trade shows and summits on Instagram. I totally understand that it’s impossible to go to most things when you’re home with little kids. When you do finally get to go, though, it makes it so wonderful and such a terrific escape. I think you enjoy it even more when you have to wait!
Maria Clark says
Fantastic that you were able to attend Abby. What a thrill to receive inspiration, rest and re-connection doing something you love.
I’m glad you had a good experience!
If you ever get a chance to go, Meagan, I think you’d really like it.
Christine Haynes says
So wonderful! It was a pleasure to meet you and I hope our paths cross again!
Truly. I’ve just emailed you, Christine 🙂
Beth Grim says
Thanks for sharing this, Abby. It’s been so great watching you grow your business over the years (step-by-step!) and now you are an expert in your field and a full blown professional. And I agree with Pippa, you have a huge, positive effect on the world of Softies (and beyond); don’t ever forget how many folks you’ve inspired and empowered!
Thank you for still being in touch after so many years, Beth!
I was also at the table with you on Thursday evening. The music/dancing was too loud to connect but since that evening I have delved into your blogs posts and have thoroughly enjoyed the reading.
I have subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to more.
Thanks for the purity, sharing your reality and the intricate research of your posts.
Craftcation15 was indeed inspiring.
All the best,
Thank you so much! The music did make it a bit hard to connect at the table. Thank you for following up and subscribing to my newsletter. I hope you enjoy receiving it! I hope we get to connect in person again soon.
nicole stevenson says
so glad you joined us this year and super happy your class went so well! i knew i would 🙂 truly honored to have you at #craftcation15!
Yay! Thanks for inviting me! It was wonderful
Isn’t it amazing the connections you make at these types of events!? I’m glad you jumped off the deep end and discovered the water is just fine 🙂
Emily McDowell says
Such a great recap, Abby! I was so happy I got to meet you!
Hi Abby, I was a first time Craftcation attendee and saw an accomplished, confident and talented woman. You’re fabulous and my new hero!
Aw, thank you! It was such a fun time.
Such a treat to finally meet you in person and spend time with you!
Tsoniki Crazy Bull says
That sounds amazing! I am glad to read that you had such a wonderful time. I hope to be able to attend at some point. 🙂
tisha @ quiltytherapy says
Sounds amazing. Can’t wait to see what this conference inspires you to do in your career. This conference has been on my radar for a bit and now I really want to go next year.
Tara Swiger says
I loved this recap, Abby! It perfectly reflects the kind of frenetic-and-yet-fulfilling experience of the whole thing. THANK YOU for totally being yourself, it’s an indescribable gift you gave us, to just show up as yourself.
Leanne Parsons says
That sounds amazing! Someday I’d love to be able to take part in an event like that too.
It was so great to meet you at Craftcation 15 Abby! I have admired your softie work for a long time and it was awesome to finally meet you in person! Thanks for letting me join you for breakfast! I hope our paths cross again someday!
Thank you for taking pictures of me teaching, Jeni! It was so wonderful to meet you.
Ashley Nickels says
What a lovely write-up, Abby. I love your writing. I was the quilter you sat with on Friday morning at breakfast, and it was also such a pleasure to chat. It was one of my favorite memories from the conference! I hope to run into you again. Thank you, Ashley
Hi Ashley! I’m so glad you found me. I really enjoyed talking with you and I hope to see you at Market. Maybe in the fall?
I loved reading this! It makes me excited to go back again next year. I chatted with you for a few minutes while waiting for the bus from Union Station to LAX and it was one of the highlights from my trip, since you’re kind of famous and all. 🙂 I also took your email marketing class and it was the best class I took without question. I’ve sent out 3 emails since getting back and you helped give me the skills and confidence to finally do it! 🙂
I’m so glad you found me here! I should have asked you for your business card so that I could see your shop. Your products are so lovely! Thanks for chatting with me despite the fact that I was so exhausted. I’m really glad to hear that your email newsletter is up and running!