I’m writing this on the plane on the way home from the inaugural Midwest Craftcon in Columbus, Ohio.
I flew from Boston to Columbus on Friday and Grace Dobush, one of the three event organizers, picked me up from the airport. It was terrific to meet Grace. Last February we spoke on the phone when she was doing research for an article she wrote for Wired about Etsy and we hit it off. Grace was one of the first people I told about Craft Industry Alliance when it was still just an idea. She’s a writer, a crafter, and an event organizer and I was really touched when she emailed me over the summer to ask if I’d deliver the keynote at Midwest Craftcon.
The weekend was organized by Grace, Megan Green, and Brit Charek. So much work goes into creating a weekend like this one and they did a truly terrific job.
Alison Rose was silk screening event t-shirts on site. So cool!
I loved that this event took place in Ohio. Until now there haven’t been many craft business conferences located in the Midwest (although SewPro will be in Chicago in September). Lots of people who had never been to a craft business conference were able to attend this one because they could drive.
I also appreciated the diversity among presenters. It’s all too easy to book a full roster of straight white women teachers for an event like this, but that wasn’t the case here which was a breath of fresh air.
We had unseasonably warm weather and on Friday afternoon I went on a long run around the park near the hotel which was totally lovely.
I gave my talk in the evening right after the opening ceremonies. This was my first time giving a keynote address. It was a really good experience and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity. I spoke about how to make a job for yourself doing what you love and I told lots of stories from my own life and business. I showed a photo of myself in 8th grade with very impressive hair sprayed bangs!
Mei Pak teaching about social media.
Saturday and Sunday I attended workshops, talked with so many people, and learned a lot. I taught my email newsletter class and was on a panel about the future of craft. I met Kate McKean and Rae Hokstra and Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood. I reconnected with Lisa Congdon and spent time with Mei Pak and Tara Swiger and so many other friends.
Lisa Congdon gave a wonderfully inspiring keynote on Saturday night. Lisa has so much wisdom to share and her slides were gorgeous. The biggest takeaway for me was to “sail your own ship.”
My favorite workshops were presented by Annal Vyas, a lawyer and law professor at the Akron School of Law. The longer I’m in business on my own the more I crave a legal education, but it’s hard to get one if you don’t go to law school. I learned about indemnification, non-solicitation clauses, joint and several liability, and so much more. It was incredibly valuable.
Going to a conference like this does many things for you. It gives you a sense of communal effort, of togetherness and unity with other people who value handmade. It sparks new ideas and motivates you to get back in the studio and push yourself to do more, grow your skills, and share more. And, at least for me, it affirms that what I do is important to people. There is nothing better than meeting my readers and customers and podcast listeners in person and just talking together. That connection is the most valuable thing of all.
I’m so glad that you had a wonderful time – how could you not at an event like that? My husband is an attorney, and as I try to figure out what kind of handmade business I’d like to start, I am SO glad I am married to someone who can give me legal advice and representation! 😉
Wish I could have been there. Sounds like an awesome experience. It would have been so cool to hear your talk about business. I just found your podcast last week and I’ve been listening to it while I sew, which is almost daily. I love the way you do your interviews, they are so relaxed and natural. You ask really good questions too. I’m learning from your podcasts, so thank you so much for providing them!!
Sue Sillano says
Hello Abby, I enjoy your newsletter so much! You have the balance, interest and effort for life that is just, so, wonderful. Thank you
Tammy White says
So nice to receive your newsletter, Abby. Thanks for all you do, all you share! I enjoyed your report from the Midwest Craft Con and the other goodies in the newsletter, the IG promo video with the potter was lovely to watch. Happy Wednesday to you!
That’s great to hear, Tammy. Thank you!
Thank you for the report. It is always interesting to know what these events are like when one doesn’t or cannot attend. The sense of community must have been great!
It really was wonderful.
Laurie Sharp says
Congratulations on a successful conference. I would’ve loved to hear your keynote. Probably took some guts – good for you! What a great opportunity to meet interesting people and learn new things!